The following is a translation of Johan Cruyff’s weekly article in El Periodico. The original can be found here.
Johan Cruyff’s key points.
With the current state of their game and the results that Barca enjoys, the board has alternatives to the idea of selling the shirt
I always write my articles from my reflections. This past year a lot of things have happened in Barca. Of these, three times, three decisions, which are above all else. One, the election of the new president; two, to bring to justice the former [president] for economic reasons; and three, sell the shirt. I respect the majority decision of the socis to elect the new head of the club. But if for nothing else, I just want to talk about the other two points.
Five goals against Espanyol, another five for Madrid, and this, and that since that other one. In football this Barca team treats everyone equally. It pleases and they enjoy it. It is like never before. But in this great team, as in any, is a past. Nothing is spontaneous. And less than a cog is in the many elements involved. The brutal success of this team is also responsible for dragging the person in charge [of it] to the courts, the former president, and all because he endorsed the decisions of others. When I say that before this great team there has to be a past, I am talking about the decisions made by the technical department.
The changes of the ‘nine’
In his day, Txiki, Guardiola, and me, when they asked for my opinion, we supported the idea of finding an exit for Eto’o. Though unconvinced, Laporta accepted it, and everybody knew that for him Eto’o is a special player. If he had been the kind of president that likes to get personally involved in sporting decisions, Eto’o would not have left. And yet when Txiki and Pep decided that the change of Eto’o for Ibrahimovic was what the team needed at the start of the new season, he endorsed it. We convinced the president to make this huge investment and later we saw that we were wrong.
Pep [later] found out that Ibra was not going to make the team better, and that it was necessary to find another type of player that can complete the eleven that, in his mind, is the perfect team. The next decision made was to sign Villa – a move that had to be made quickly because of the then upcoming World Cup, for his price could have multiplied after that. Besides we all knew that it was not just getting Villa to sign and that’s it, we also had to get rid of Ibra. We all know the final outcome is a burden on the economy, and yet absolute success in sports. So we now have the best team in the world but we have also taken the president who lets Pep and Txiki the freedom to assemble it to the courts. But then even those justices must be going crazy watching this team play!
If it is only numbers that we care about, that can easily be wiped clean. Just don’t buy Villa, and stay with Ibra. And today, we might not have Villa nor do we have the best team in the world. Add into that account the income from the sale of Yaya Toure, and sell one more (without touching the three Balon d’Or candidates), today we would not have all this foul-up.
I doubt there would be one, not even one, Barcelona fan that is willing to exchange the latter [scenario] to what it is now. The team is impressive, and it is due to the decisions, some successful, others wrong, made by the coach. And Laporta… all the losses were attributed to him, when the real culprits are Txiki, Pep and me.
We convinced him into selling Eto’o. The idea is that, to have success, would be to change him for Ibrahimovic, and when we realised we made a mistake, he supported us in the sale of the Swede. And he again supported us with the purchase of Villa. We took a step backwards to make two forwards – just one more, then we’ll see. The only certainty is that to overcome the problem faced by [football teams] the world [over], one must look at how this team is now performing in matches, every one [of them], beyond any specific display.
I’ve said it and I’ll stand by it. To me it does not merit the excuse given is that mistake, and because of that, we are forced to put advertising on the shirt. If five years ago I was at first certain, I later found out there are other formulas that can be used for the club to remain distinct and unique in that regard. Today, they should have followed this line of thinking. Dedicate this year and even the next to see and analyse all the options they can use to increase their income by €25 million annually.
The best inheritance
I’m sure they could have done it as this board has something wonderful that nobody else has. They have inherited the best team in the world. They got it without having to do anything, a team which can become the best of all time. They have the best player on this planet, the number two, and three. Everyone wants their name to be associated with this team. They are for sure able to generate the same amount of money they got out of the shirt deal. I’m sure they can achieve it. So… was it that impossible for them to wait?