It’s over now, any hope for pursuing a back-to-back European run is now diminished. It’s sad because at times you’d see how much ambition this team had to try and achieve the impossible. But to call it a failure would be to degrade Barça’s efforts all season up until now. We gave it a shot. We’re still in the final of the cup, and we’re still leading la Liga. This time around though, the Barça machine is gravely out of gas, and out of luck.
As well all know, the FIFA break always has a hyperbolic effect on the media outlets that mainly focus on club football. Suddenly, 90% of the squad of every team is either unhappy, being offered insane amounts of money to move elsewhere and, generally, every one wants a change. We get it, everybody needs to make a living, newspapers/tabloids included. But every once in a while a rumor comes along that shows up enough times in the news that you start to take it at least a little seriously.
As expected, tonight’s Copa del Rey semi-final felt more like a friendly fixture. A tremendous performance by FC Barcelona a week ago at the Camp Nou rendered the tie moot, providing Luis Enrique with a rare chance to rest his key players. Gary Neville, the man fighting hard to keep his job, also saw the game as no more than a chance to rest his players as well. There was no way Valencia were ever going to comeback from a seven-goal deficit against the treble winners, and Neville’s acceptance of that reality could potentially serve him better than a useless attempt at restoring pride.
At the time of writing Gary Neville is still the manager of Valencia. This won’t change before his side fruitlessly attempt to salvage a seven goal disadvantage tomorrow night and won’t change regardless of the result afterwards. That sounds snarky but actually I will always stand by a strategy that gives managers time when patience in football appears abhorred. That all said, the Neville experiment continuous to explode in Peter Lim’s face – he has overseen no wins in 9 league games now, been behind in every occasion, oversaw the heaviest cup defeat since 1928 and Valencia now lie just 4 points from relegation. Mixing friends and business is renowned risky business, Mr. Lim.
Post today’s game, a good friend of mine who watches football from time to time sent me the following message:
“How is the communication between the front three so good? Poor Valencia, it should be illegal for ‘MSN’ to play that well”. I think those sentiments sum up yesterday’s game, from a neutral point of view at least, quite well.