Thursday, June 21, 2007

Barca news round-up

It's not been a vintage season, but there is one thing Barca have achieved that we didn't in the glorious 05-06 season, and that's maintain an unbeaten record at home in the league. It's the four months we went without winning away that let us down.

Club president Joan Laporta sent out a forceful statement that things will change at the club next season in a press conference, although he insisted that Rijkaard, Ronaldinho and Eto'o would be staying put.

In the same press conference, the club's stated transfer targets are said to be "A left back, a centre back, one or two midfielders and one or two forwards". Sounds good to me, although I'd prioritize the midfielders, which we desperately need.

Also mentioned: Barca C is going to be folded, given Barca B's relegation.

Speaking of Barca B, guess who's been tasked with guiding them back up to the third division? One of my favourite players of all time and former Barca idol Pep Guardiola has signed a two-year contract to coach the team, bringing him back to the youth set up which made him as a player. I definitely approve, and hope that he proves to be a success.

From Guardiola to one of his successors, both on the pitch and as a leader of the squad. Xavi Hernandez spoke frankly about the season in a recent press conference, in which he laid the blame squarely on the players for not being up to the job, backed Frank Rijkaard to continue, and insisted that the squad was a great one which was very capable of winning more titles. Also, this:
Xavi is already looking to the future and is determined to win more silverware next season: “You always get another chance in football. We can’t allow ourselves another year like this one”.
Given that Xavi is the squad member who has been in the first team the longest and therefore experienced most of Barca's last long dry spell, his words carry some weight. He knows what it was like in the bad old days. Let's not do that again.

Technical secretary Txiki Begiristain also spoke about the changes in store for next season, strongly hinting that discipline would be tightened up in all respects, including speaking to the media and training. Three guesses which two players those concerns were directed at, and the first two don't count.

There's been a flurry of teams all over Europe unveiling their shirts for next season. If you're impatient to see Barca's, the designs for the home and away shirts have been leaked already. Looks genuine enough to me. I definitely approve of the home shirt. Not too sure about that shade of blue on the away one yet, although I like the collar. Having blue on both the home and away shirts probably means another season of getting out the third kit a lot on away trips. As long as it isn't the same unpleasant shade of brown as the last time we had blue on both home and away jerseys, I'll be fine.

Yes, another Asian tour. I thought we'd been over this enough times this season with the players complaining about how much pre-season tours screw up their physical preparations for the season? Ah well, at least it's a short one. Before that, Barca have broken with tradition and chosen to conduct their pre-season training in Scotland instead of Denmark. They'll play Dundee United and Hearts while they're there.

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