There is a Legacy

Lush green turf sweeps majestically before him. It’s his domain even if there are others involved. It’s where he operates. He doesn’t rush, he strolls. The blue and the red providing his vivid colours. The noise and colours that surround him blur into the background. He’s the primary actor. The focus of our attention. We sit in front of the TV. He comes from another world. And we watch.

I’ve toyed with this for a while, delaying unnecessarily if I’m honest. The answer was easy which often makes it the most difficult situation to act upon. My own reluctance to accept the outcome yet simultaneously being the outcome that I actually want. Is it really that time? Already? Did I achieve all that I wanted to? I had no targets when I began but did I achieve anyway? It was always a hobby that became increasingly regular. One, sometimes two, articles per week. It was sustainable. For a while.

And so, this will be my final article on my blog (for the foreseeable future anyway).

I still intend to write for a few other websites just no longer here. There’s no disappointment involved. Only relief. Which is pretty unusual given I’ve only written 3 or 4 articles over the past 12 months. This brings clarity though. Definition. This is the final article. I’ve said it. No more delays and false promises of future articles if only you wait that little bit longer. This is it.

I simply no longer have sufficient time to watch an entire game and analyse it properly before writing an article. And if I’m honest with you, I don’t want to do that anymore either. Maybe my unknown subconscious targets were achieved after all? Maybe my targets have changed. My priorities certainly have.

And the big question, is of course, How? (Note in Glasgow, you don’t say Why? you say How?)

Step forward, or perhaps I should say crawl forward, little Chalk.

With his first birthday just past, it’s time to admit that I cannot continue running this blog any longer. And I don’t want to. I don’t want to watch games and write reviews when I could be playing with my son. Or watching the TV with that central dominating figure present. I’ll be honest, I’d never seen him before but I’m a huge fan now. Around 6.20pm on a midweek night, I no longer watch Revista de La Liga anymore. It’s In The Night Garden now. Xavi has been substituted. For Iggle Piggle. And I simply don’t care.

The obligatory thank you is necessary at this point. As custom dictates, there are simply too many to mention so I’ll keep it to a minimum for those few people who have helped with my blog in one way or another. Some have managed to tolerate me this long and still do whilst others reacted to the urge to avoid me some time ago. Firstly, Iain McMullen who discovered this literary genius and unleashed me via, the now sadly neglected, elcentrocampista.com. Amit at ThinkFootball.com who provided me with a platform at the outset. Gags at EPLIndex.com for the offer of support when needed and providing technical assistance on my blog. Even Ruhi too, who should be happy with my confession below even if my customary ambivalence thereafter will not.

Donald Rumsfeld once spoke about there being known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns. I’d actually like to agree with him even if it makes me feel temporarily dirty. I’ll clear up two things immediately. I’m male as quite a few people apparently thought I was female early on (probably owing to my inner bitch). And I have never supported West Brom either.

Thereafter, some of you will be aware of my known knowns. My fondness for chocolate cookies and muffins. That I favour managers and their ideas above teams. Therefore it is Rayo Vallecano in Spain above all others due to the tactical and sartorial genius that is Paco Jemez (although I do have an extremely soft spot for Athletic Bilbao principally due to Bielsa and now Valverde) A few people are aware some of my known unknowns. In England my team always was Arsenal. Nowadays I’ve grown weary of Arsene Wenger and his apparent inability to adapt. Despite my incessant mocking of Wenger and Arsenal these days, there was, is and hopefully will continue to be much to admire at the Emirates.

The unknown unknowns? Well, they’ll stay that way. For a while longer at least. Maybe one day they’ll be revealed. Maybe.

My final thanks goes to an unusual fellow who has suffered considerably at my sarcastic hands over the past couple of years. Step forward young Mr Gene Oliver. Perhaps one day he’ll even learn my name but then, if he did, he would be half as clever as me. And we simply can’t have that now, can we?

And so in this particular battle, little Chalk wins. Iggle Piggle is now the dominant figure on the television. Xavi Hernandez finds himself relegated both at Barcelona and in my home.

Xavi once spoke of there being something greater than the result. That there had to be a legacy.

He was right.

Barcelona vs AC Milan: 3 short observations

Three short observations on the Barcelona vs AC Milan game last night.

3 Man Defence

Guardiola has used a 3 man defence on occasion at home this season particularly against weaker opposition but this was the first time they have used it against a strong opponent. It allowed an additional man to play in the midfield area which is important against a narrow Milan side who strength lies in the central midfield area and gave Alves the freedom to start very high up on the right.

The 3 man defence still provided Barca with a spare man against the Milan front two of Robinho and Zlatan.

Guardiola talked at the press conference afterwards about the flexibility of Alves and how this assist’s the team.

Width

Both Alves but especially Cuenca played high and wide, staying on the touchline to stretch their opponents. In the first game at the San Siro, Barca were far too narrow probably a combination of line up and pitch quality (remember Arsenal had also struggled to gain any width at the San Siro).

Cuenca had little influence on the game but by being permanently stationed on the touchline it pulled Milan’s back 4 across the full width of the 18 yard box. The success that Milan enjoyed at the San Siro had been forcing Barca narrow.

With the back 4 stretched, the midfield dropped deeper to prevent Barca exploiting the gaps in the defensive line.

Fabregas

Recalled to the starting eleven after injury, Cesc alternated between playing in and around Messi often moving beyond him on occasion but also dropped deeper than Messi to collect the ball. This led to Messi being isolated on occasion with Alves and Cuenca very wide. This was the exact problem Barca faced in the clasico last season early on when the role of Cesc was confused and he strayed too far from Messi but too close to Xavi.

Perhaps there is still a little bit more work required on the training pitch to iron out the small problems on how Messi and Fabregas should link against better opposition.