Prenote - I woud like to note that this article was written some weeks ago
It all began with Henrik Larsson, a player that was not a semi-god at Celtic, but a God. Larsson was extremely appreciated at Barcelona even well before the Champions League final, where he had a crucial impact on the game when he came on (he gave passes to both Barcelona goals in the game). It was almost a mystery to the press in Barcelona how much the fans loved Larsson, as his goal scoring record was good, but not as good to justify his status, perhaps it was his work rate, that he compared to many other players did not arrive to semi retire and live a good life in the south, but that he came there to work and work hard. He proved to be hungry to prove himself and became a real role model for both Eto’o and Ronaldinho, admired by both players and they always mentioned how much they lurnt from him.
Back to Gudjohnsen, it is never easy to substitute a semi-god (which Larsson became at Barcelona), but he was believed to be a sound signing. Someone who at least would have the same work mentality as Larsson and who had a good record for Mourinho and Chelsea (but as a midfielder). Gudjhonsen started very well, creating goals and scoring goals in his first games when he came on as a substitute. Before he had to chance to truly adjust to his new team he was thrown into the limelight, as Eto’o became injured. Eto’o is a player that who had an amazing record, scoring almost a goal every two games. A player that was not just important for his goals, but he was tactically extremely important, as the defence started with him chasing the opposite players like a lunatic. Gudjohnsen who is a very different players, was suddenly the one who had not just to be the new Larsson, but also the new Eto’o. A task impossible for any striker, only that Gudjohnsen is perhaps more suited as a midfielder.
Gudjohnsen’s track record up until Christmas last year was nothing to be ashamed of, perhaps he was crucified for missing that open goal against Madrid and the fans never really trusted him after that.
It is never easy to come to a team that has just won everything and were now showing alarming signs of complacency everywhere and I mean everywhere. The team never really got going and one title after another was lost and in those circumstances it is extremely difficult for a newcomer to adapt and it was not made any easier, having to be the player supposed to score goals and win games.
January came, and the Spanish Cup season started, in those games it is normally the opportunity for teams to play their second or third choice players. Saviola who at that point was the third striker, started scoring goals, a lot of goals, only that they were against second or third rated teams. A massive media campaign started with everyone shouting for Saviola to play. Saviola is another of those players who is or rather was (as he went to Madrid) loved like their own child by the Barcelona fans. The campaign claimed that he was not being played as he was a burden from the past, a player that was not played due to political reasons (a signing from the past board), that he was much better than Gudjohnsen, oblivious to the fact that Gudjohnsen scored against most major teams (Werder Bremen, Liverpool, Chelsea) and that Saviola had to my memory never scored in an important game. He was simply thought by the media and fans to be a much better player than Gudjohnsen.
Rijkaard seemed to have been influenced by that campaign, a
The campaign led to that Rijkaard, a man who perhaps can be influenced or rather does not want any trouble, started to play Saviola. The opinion amongst Barcelna fans has been divided between those who think that Gudjohnsen is not good enough for Barcelona, even a bad player and those who think that the title was lost when Saviola took Gudjohnsen’s place in the starting team. That the campaign sank Gudjohnsen and his self confidence and if Rijkaard would have trusted in his capabilities (as a striker) the team would have won the league. Those fans think that the club and coach have been unjust to Gudjohnsen and he was never really allowed a chance to really prove himself, that he was discarded far too soon.
When Deco was playing awfully Gudjohnsen should have been given a chance in the position that is probably his best position, an attacking midfielder, but for some reason he was never tried in that position.
From being el bacalao, he became Badjohnsen, and the club seemed to be more than willing to sell him in the summer. He might not be good enough for Barcelona as a striker, even if I am sure they could use him there, but he is definitely a player that could be important in certain games. Like the one at Ibrox Park
With Deco out and only Xavi and Iniesta available, Rijkaard had no choice but to play him. Rijkaard who had hinted at the difficulty of Gudjohnsen getting any minutes (as two teenagers were even ahead of him as strikers) had to trust all his faith in Gudjohnsen. In Glasgow perhaps as the other stars did not shine at all, Gudjohnsen was Barcelona’s best player. Football can have that beautiful turn, when one day you are a nobody and the next day you are a semi –god, or at least someone who is much needed. It is obvious by now that Gudjhonsen is no Larsson and it was a big mistake by the club to flag him as the substitute for Larsson. It won’t be easy to be Deco, but at least his qualities are better matched as a Deco type of player, or he could well be the substitute for a player that perhaps was not much appreciated by the fans, but a player that is essential in the Champions League, especially the hard physical games. A player who probably contributed more than he is grated for as an important part in winning the Champions League. Mark Van Bommel. It could well be that the club and fans will realise that Gudjohnsen is a better player than Van Bommel and that his part is much needed in the midfield, when games are both physical and aggressive.
The kind of player that all teams who aspire to win the Champions League have, look at Gerrard, Van Bommel and Seedorf.
Gudjhonsen is probably not as good as Gerrard or Seedorf, but at least he is of that profile. It is just a shame that it has taken the club one year and a bit to discover and try his real qualities and that is more due to an accident (injuries) than observation.Here is one of my favourite Bacalao recipes:
Here is one of my favourite Bacalao Recipes, for four people.
Bacalao, celery, tomatoes, diced, raisins, black olives, onion coarsely chopped, pine nuts. Salt and pepper.
De salt the fish (think for 48 hours, changing the water four times). Cut celery to slices, and parboil in boiling salted water. Sauté onion in a little oil and add tomatoes. Add fish after a few minutes and simmer for five minutes.
Add celery, pine nuts, raisins and olives. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes. If necessary, add a little wter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Labels: barça, Food, football, watercolours