The Return of The Ego
The Return of the Ego
For three years, the Barcelona fans had the indulged in the attitude of their team. It was a team with few egos or where egos where able to co exist and one of the traits of the team was just humbleness and self-scarification of the other.
It only took three years for it to disappear; only a few months after the European cup had been won the first warning signs were there. It all started with Joan Laporta boasting that the team would win all seven titles, the exact opposite of what were the staples of the board, the coach and the team in the beginning, but I guess that is what happens when you have not won anything for five years. I choked on Laporta’s comments and thought that the Karma would come back to haunt him, to haunt us.
So far all titles (but one) have been lost.
Sevilla in the European super cup final trashed Barcelona, who had not taken off their smoking from the night before, where they received many awards in a spectacular gala. While Sevilla had been preparing for the game in all seriousness Barcelona were jetting around America in a Globetrotter fashion, believing it would be an easy match. After all they were the European Champions.
Laporta’s comments have hurt, like Rijkaard has reminded us so many times, you cannot even think such thoughts, on occasions you can rely on pure talent, but will also goes a long long way, especially if the opposites teams thoughts are elsewhere.
The warnings have been there all season, while the team has been playing poorly in all but perhaps 45 + 90 + 45 + 30 minutes this season, there have been all kinds of excuses, the world cup, the lack of pre season training, injuries, but the fact is that the team has lost all principal values: humbleness, self scarification for the other and self criticism.
The egos have taken over and for the first time there are camps in the dressing room. Those on the Brazilians side and the other ones. Those who train hard and those who hardly train at all. Those who breathe football and those who breathe life.
Over these years Deco’s ascendancy over the dressing room has been prominent, he is a magnificent player who was one of the chief reasons for Barcelona’s success, but as his influence at the time was positive, it has now turned negative. He is very clever, has an astute technical sense, but he is also very manipulative and has that charismatic leadership that can be so constructive, but also so destructive. It is called the Rise of Deco Power. He has imposed the Brazilian way of working, that proved to be successful, but like so many methods has an expiry date. It is a working method that bases itself on joy, freedom and individuality. While it lasted it worked wonders, but what should have happened is that during success the team should have worked harder on becoming even better, there were signs even then: the lack of corners scored, the difficulty in defending corners and free kicks, the lack of killing off opponents etc. The team has simply not become better, it has stagnated and that plus lack of fitness, plus lack of hunger, self criticism, over belief in one self as an individual (not as a unit) is what we are seeing this year. Why has Deco not been stopped, how come he has been allowed this immense power on the dressing room (some even say he dictates who plays and who does not), well one reason is obviously Frank Rijkaard, a man who believes in flexible authority, rather than authority through fear, and it did worked for some time. Lets not forget he had Ten Cate on his side last year, who took on the part of authority. What does Neeskens do apart from Sudokos? Perhaps when the ego rises to unbearable proportions, no method works. Once a player believes he is more important than the team, it is time to go. I sincerely hope that Rijkaard’s way is the way to go, as I always believed in self criticism, or as Xavi puts it “How do you feel when the coach comes to you and asks, looking you deeply in your eye – you did not follow my instructions”, but like so many other members of the team (board, players, coaches etc) he will have to do some serious reflection on how to affront the situation and if he has the hunger to affront another season. I am sure in the summer some players will arrive, as so far the players have sensed their position is secured however badly they play, and others have sensed that whatever they do they can’t enter the team, there will be both additions of serious threats to first team and squad members, as the group will have to be shaken up from complacency.
The situation is simple: It has no solution. It is the behaviour of a Nouveau Riche, of spoilt kids. It is such a shame as last year I felt so proud over my team, the effort everyone put in, the will of going in the same direction, the hunger in their eyes, but also the kindness in their eyes.
Like they all learnt to gain success, the transformation of losers into winners, they will now learn to digest success, the co existing of humans, rather than clash of egos each looking for their self-gain.