28 April 2010

Ingratitude: Wuss dan Obeah.

By Bourbon

For persons not too familiar with Trinidadian parlance, it simply says “Ingratitude is worse than necromancy (witchcraft)”. And it certainly is. Gratitude is essential in all spheres of life. Even in football, where many times the prevailing thought often is : “But what have you done for me lately?”. But to me, no greater ingratitude was ever displayed than that meted out to Samuel Eto’o Fils by FC Barcelona. Some try to spin it, burnish it, gloss it over. Fact is, it was ingratitude. Of the highest order. And I hold Senor Joan La Porta and to some extent Mr. Josep Guardiola primarily responsible.

I certainly don’t expect a player to stay at one team forever, but i certainly don’t expect a club to treat one of its faithful servants in the manner they did. Not after 107 goals in 145 games. Not after scoring in two champion league finals. Not after spending half a season injured and attending to national duty and STILL returning to be one of Barcelona’s top scorers. Not after scoring in several classicos. Not after running hard for every game he has played willing to do anything to help his team. No. And to make the matter even more obscene, using him as a deal sweetener to get an inconsistent phenom who is yet to justify his record transfer.

Let me also take this opportunity to point out that any vitriol here is not aimed at Mr. Ibrahimovic. In fact, i mentioned several times that I feel sorry for him. Sorry because the pressure is on him to perform to justify his total transfer of 65 Million euros, and he historically has not been renowned for his facing up to pressure. I feel sorry for him because he wasn’t able to be part of Barca’s rigorous preseason training, where after intense workouts, you forced to run back to the hotel. Most of all, i feel sorry for him because after a team achieves the heights of greatness as that Barcelona team did, the only direction that is likely is down, and he would be the likely target of blame. Aside from the two point blank chances that he missed that resulted in Barca being knocked out of Copa del Rey...or the disjointed nature of Barcelona’s fluidity that often occurred when he was on the pitch, Zlatan isn’t to blame.

So who is? I would blame La Porta, who never seemed to appreciate Samuel Eto’o. The striker’s outspoken nature didn’t seem to help matters, even when he spoke out about the lack of appreciation that he felt. Instead he was vilified in gossip circles as a potential disruptive influence in the dressing room who needed to be ejected. Contrasting that caricature of Eto’o with the player on the field, one would observe some discrepancy. Eto’o who was often the initiator in team huddles? Eto’o who ran selflessly to open up space for others to work? Eto’o who did everything within his power when on the pitch to win? Something doesn’t add up. Not to mention that all the pivotal Barcelona players (iniesta, xavi, messi) were all offered extensions on their contracts, earning them millions a year, contracts up to 2014 and 2016, with buyout clauses on average about 200 million euro, while Eto’o had to wait until his contract entered its final year, only to be told the increase and 1 year extension he requested would not be possible, and either he accept the deal with Inter or let his deal expire. Hmmm. Is it due to his age? Don’t think thats valid, xavi is older than he is, yet is contracted up to 2014. Is it due to the money? Well, everybody got monumental increases, even Zlatan’s final contract earns him more annually than etoo was making. Interesting.La Porta has often cast blame on the player when he has spoken out about the lack of appreciation he feels. When Ronaldinho was being lackadaisical, castigation was slow in coming. Yet, any indiscretion by Eto’o was met with immediate censure. In fact, no voices of protest were raised when the terms of the transfer came through: Zlatan = 65 Million + Eto’o + Hleb on loan ( which later became a total deal worth approximately 69 million.) No, very few were heard. Fans were busy creaming themselves in excitement salivating over the prospects of Zlatan in balungra colours. Persons even attempted to justify the amount and the disrespect to Etoo that occurred by using such fallacies in reasoning as “Zlatan plays in a better defensive league, so obviously he wouldn’t score as much as etoo does. In fact, Etoo benifits from the best service in the world from Barca, hence his figures are so high.” Really now? Up to this point in the season Zlatan’s figures are 16 goals in 26 games. ( 1 goal every 1.6 games.) Eto’o’s figures are 12 from 29 ( 1 goal every 2.4 games.) Interestingly, Zlatan lacks eto’o’s versatility, which allows him to play anywhere along the front line ( a tactic which was an overwhelming success in the champions league final), a versatility which the “Special One” has used to great effect. Also, Barca seemed to suffer from the absence of this versatility in quite a few games. But, why bench a player that you spent so much to acquire? So Zlatan was played, often with less than expected results.

There are lies, damn lies and statistics. Figures can be viewed in any way to hinder or help one’s argument. .To me, the bottom line of the figures can lead one to infer that eto’o is simply 4 goals behind, in a better defensive league, with lower quality service and playing out of position mostly, and having played more games due to the fact that zlatan was injured for quite a few spells. Interesting. However, what the history speaks to me is the brazen fact that Barcelona treated one of the most prolific strikers in the game very poorly despite his great service to the club. Ingratitude wuss dan obeah....and Barca was DAMN ungrateful.

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