Arsenal and Barcelona: A comedy of Errors

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By JAMES CURTIS Whether or not it’s you, we’ve all experienced those moments where somebody becomes the brunt of a joke. You try your best to see the funny side, and on most occasions that’s possible. Sometimes though, and not very often, those good times turn into uncomfortable moments when a person can’t help but feel insulted through oversensitivity. One tender spot where the Brit gets easily hung-up is football, so it’s no wonder a few of us are feeling a little sour about Cesc Fabregas publically being forced into a Barcelona shirt. 

The British have always found a way to satirise themselves and take in good spirits their own comic flaws. The British are good at being the brunt. Dad’s Army; classic comedy about the Home Guard during World War II, overly serious about their trivial role which never sees combat or confrontation. Derek Trotter; the Cockney market trader and star of Only Fools and Horses, bent on making cash and who thinks he’s sharper than actuality. The Vicar of Dibley reveals the meaning of the English countryside’s village idiot, while One Foot In The Grave tells the story of England’s grumpy senior citizenship. Perhaps being brought up with the world’s finest comedy helped me realise Carlos Puyol, Gerard Pique and Pepe Reina lack the class.

I attempted to see the funny side. Also, Spain had just won the World Cup, so why should they care about what anybody else thinks? Half the team are Barcelona anyway. Put Puyol and Pique into British comedy and they’d come out as Edina and Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous, driving people mad with their outrageous selfishness. This was their stage. Still though, the only people laughing are Barcelona fans and players. Their cackles grow louder every time they ruffle Arsenal, and their followers bask in its workings, gloating at how our prized asset wants to play for their club. Every time an angry comment becomes the property of the internet and appears on the monitor screen of a Barca fan, they laugh. If they are reading now then I suspect they’ll be laughing too! 

Arsenal were the real brunt of the joke, not Cesc. Before the World Cup final a mate and I were holding seats for others. Along came the big man of the pub with his girlfriend on the look out to show off his brilliance. He asked if they could sit down but we told him friends were coming shortly. “You’ve got friends?!” he said, with a quick glance to check if his girlfriend was impressed by his wit, just like Alan Partridge would. Naturally, awkward silence followed, as did the embarrassment of his girlfriend behind him. Like Barca, he was trying to disparage people who he quickly came not to like. He and Barca were the same, why? Because both wanted something to which they had no access. 

To Cesc’s credit he felt awkward and embarrassed. There was even potential for it to be a classic moment from The Office. I’m thinking of the scene where David Brent keeps slapping Malcolm’s bald head and calling him Kojak. Quickly the joke wears thin and an angry Malcolm bats away his hand. There is stunned silence and the viewer is left cringing at the hostility. Cesc couldn’t create any sort of Ricky Gervais slapstick magic though, instead – and again to his credit – he behaved with reservation, just like Arsenal have over the whole tapping-up affair that has become the biggest joke of all this summer. Cesc was Hyacinth Bucket, Keeping Up Appearances! 

Barcelona may have the last laugh when they sign Fabregas. Most likely that will be next summer. Maybe Barca have made so many publicity errors Arsenal won’t sell at all. Maybe Arsenal do trade and Cesc becomes used goods, just like those who went before him. That will reveal itself in time. At the moment however, I’m happy to play the role of cantankerous seaside hotel owner Basil Fawlty and dislike anybody who attempts to unsettle the running of Arsenal FC. Or perhaps more like Police Inspector Raymond Fowler from The Thin Blue Line, who attempts to run a tidy and honest ship. I guess that makes Barcelona the bitter Derek Grim who runs the yobbish CID team. Simply put: loudmouthed!

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  • midnightmoor

    excellent article

  • harper

    Their tactic is to wear the owning club down and alienate the fans from the player to the point where the fans have had enuf and just say “go already, if that’s what you want!” And it works because I’m at that point right now. I’ve had enuf. I know the shirt incident wasn’t Cesc’s fault but it’s clear he wants to go.

    Cesc’s father comes out confirming that right after the season ended, Cesc had asked AW to look into him leaving for Barca this summer so AW would’ve had time to replace him. And Cesc says nothing, he just allows his father to talk and talk for him. The BBC has a quote from Cesc dismissing the shirt incident as just a joke, which of course it was. But it was planned. And by a bunch of players from a club who do not know what it is to treat another club with respect and class, with dignity. Cesc was embarrassed but he just comes out with statements like “I don’t know what’s going to happen” re his transfer to Barca.

    Arsenal are no saints in the transfer market but we do not behave this way – we do not wage media circus campaigns to force another club to sell us a player, we do not try to drive a wedge between the player and the fans/manager, we do not conduct media circus campaigns with the intent to create hostility and resentment. We treat Barca with far more respect than they treat us.

    That’s why it’s hard not to get angry with this. Because we behave with comparatively more class and dignity than they do. We take contracts seriously. None of our players or directors publicly boast about convincing a player from another club to come to us, saying he should come to us because we’re a better club.

    I actually found myself angrier with Reina than Puyol/Pique. Barca have no money of course, their finances are shot to hell. So they can’t come up with a good bid, and Cesc won’t buy out his contract. So they wage this vulgar, boorish, low-rent media campaign to wear us down. I just wish we’d never ever deal with them again after this.

    What would be hilarious of course is if, after Cesc leaves, his career goes the way of other former Arsenal players sold to Barca. It’s not as if they’ve had a lot of luck with players they’ve bought from us.

  • Jimmy

    Nice reply harper. Your first paragraph was very good. You might say Barca are Men Behaving Badly and in the financial position of The Royle Family.

  • Andy Mack

    I think this was a step too far. I suspect that next summer Farca will need to come up with over 75m now, whereas someone like Inter or Juve could probably do a deal at 55m. That’s how bad Farca have handled the situation!

  • james the special 1

    oh shut up Harper u no nothing as Ive always said before just look wat u write “after Cesc leaves, his career goes the way of other former Arsenal players sold to Barca”LOl nonence u idiot, Cesc is a different player to Hlebb overmars and Henry when he left. u really pertent u have knoweldge u are a joke my friend all u do is write ur stupid essay’s

  • embryo

    i was at the arsenal shop today getting my son the new away strip, at the checkout i asked how many Cesc shirts they were selling, she told me that they have been instructed not to sell any!!!

    when i proceeded to the shirt counter i was chatting to the guy there and he sadi they’d done loads of Cesc shirts, and when i told him what i’d been told he rushed over to shut the woman up, when he came back he said we all know Cesc is staying, stupid cow!

    so there you go, even the Armaoury don’t know what’s going on.

    by the way, does anyone know why we can’t report the Barca scum for tapping up, if this isn’t trying to unsettle a player what is?

  • Jimmy

    Lol embryo, interesting story. The woman’s name tag didn’t read Mrs X Hernandez, did it?

  • Jaygooner

    Love the analogys. I see Wenger as Stanley Norman Fletcher, the wise lag who has seen it and done it, Cesc is Godber, unsure what to do, but ready to listen to the advice of his cellmate. Sandra Rosell is Mackay, totally insane and deluded, and Peter Hill Wood is Barraclough, kindly but senile. Nice post!

  • king gooner

    i for one ain’t treating the latest incident as a joke-it’s a wind up of monumental proportions,and why?because forget cesc..it’s DISREPECTFUL TO ARSENAL..it’s a f**k you& that my friends is why i’d love to see a barca shirt burning ceremony outside the emirates (televised of course)to see if the barca scumbags find that funny hey!!

  • Jaygooner

    A shirt burning ceremony would be fun but to be honest I aint wasting money on a shitty, more than a joke clubs shirt.

  • Jimmy

    Nice. I always had Pat Rice down as a closet Frank Spencer. Oooh Betty !!

  • Jimmy

    How I’d like to see that king gooner. If you hear of anything let me know, I’ve got an excellent video cam!

  • colin

    james the special 1, you’re the fcking joke, what is it james hunt you fcking mug!

  • colin

    shirt burning whilst james is wearing it??

  • Berg10

    Maybe TH14 will donate his as he’s got no use for it going to the MLS

  • CescBarcelona

    First of all good article. Thank you for writting.

    Let me introduce myself. I’m from Barcelona and Barça’s fan. I like Arsenal and I watched all the AFC`s matches I can. I think Arsenal has a special style (pass and move) and it’s very similar to Barça style. That’s probably why Barça is trying to sign AFC players. Not only they are good they can play this style. But remember it is not only in one direction. Arsenal scouts are going many times to “La Masia” (childs or boys from 9 to 17 years old)to find out a new Cesc and get it for free.

    About the joke you’re right some Barça’s fans laughed. Not me. It was a bad joke. We wouldn’t like to see our players with other shirt. It wasn’t funny but not enough for a war. Some people spend their time insulting others and finally they are severely affected with a joke.

    I noticed AFC blogs are “Everybody hates Barça” so I prefer not to write again because some of you guys like to read only one-sided version.

  • Ajayan

    I’m happy Henry left.. Now i can curse all of them collectively without guilt 😆
    Hope he murders the Spurs on debut!

  • Damien

    Absolutely fantastic piece.

  • Notoverthehill

    I am somewhat surprised that the Spitting Incident (not Spitting Image by the way), has not cropped up.
    The Spanish press is full of the supposed jape played by Mr Gerard Piqué, egged on by Cesc and another player, Valdes: on an innocent Pedro Cortés. Pedro Cortés is a delegate of the Spanish Team and a former President of Valencia FC.
    The jape ocurred on the ceremonial open bus tour in Madrid, before the Barça shirt prank. Everyone knows that Mr Gerard Piqué is a joker in very bad paste. Henry describes Piqué’s jokes as being like a pimple on the arse. What Henry said in Spanish is much more eloquent, from a frequent butt of these “pranks”.
    It reminds one of a certain Newcastle, Sxxxx, Rangers and England player. Or perhaps Ian Botham.
    OMG, he is Cesc’s best mate in the Barça camp. I do not yet know if Cesc is still renting Deco’s old flat in Barcelona. Cesc did “joke” about raising a family in the flat!

  • John in Norfolk

    I would really like to see our chairman appear on national television and give a definitive statement on the Barcelona/Fabregas situation.

    Is the player for sale or not? Simple.

    We are hearing nothing from the club or from Fabregas, we get only newspaper “reports” which are mostly speculation.

    It’s time for the truth!!

  • Notoverthehill

    JIN
    The Arsenal have made their position clear – NO SALE! End of story.
    BUT Cesc?

  • Monktash

    [quote name=Andy Mack]I think this was a step too far. I suspect that next summer Farca will need to come up with over 75m now, whereas someone like Inter or Juve could probably do a deal at 55m. That’s how bad Farca have handled the situation![/quote]
    If only. Next season is Wenger’s last and I don’t think he’ll sign a new contract because it will be another trophyless season following his failed experiment. This will be followed by transfer requests, including Cesc’s. Players values will then drop.

  • Ramzi

    Not all Barca fans are having fun in this transfer Chaos. If you want to know how this Barca fan feels about all this crazy circus just read my rants on my blog in the past two days. I am sick of Barcelona, Arsenal, and Cesc at the moment. Here I said it!

    This is a briefing about the circus taking place at the moment:

    “We’re more than a club”

    Hymned the Cules’ crew.

    On the same blogging pub

    The Gooners yelled “F**k you!”

  • Gunnerian

    embryo
    I could not understand your story!
    Did you tray to buy Cesc shirt and you were not allowed or what
    Regrading this incident and so many incidents that happened and will happen , I think Barsa is doing is the right thing since Arsenal is accepting to be bullied

  • Berg10
  • Monktash

    [quote name=Monktash][quote name=Andy Mack]I think this was a step too far. I suspect that next summer Farca will need to come up with over 75m now, whereas someone like Inter or Juve could probably do a deal at 55m. That’s how bad Farca have handled the situation![/quote]
    If only. Next season is Wenger’s last and I don’t think he’ll sign a new contract because it will be another trophyless season following his failed experiment. This will be followed by transfer requests, including Cesc’s. Players values will then drop.[/quote]To people who have given a thumb down score I’m interested in what you disagree with. Do you think that Wenger will sign a new contract or that we will win a trophy, that Wenger can do no wrong or that Cesc won’t hand in a trasfer request if AW goes?

  • Jimmy

    Of course all are possible Monktash. I guess you just made it sound like fact. I’d say the least likely is Wenger leaving. Could he stay for life?

  • Jimmy

    Good to hear not everybody is Ramzi although I’m sure alot of Catalonia thought Pique and Puyol were our Reeves and Mortimer.

    I met some Barca fans in Mallorca who said they don’t think Barca need Cesc …

  • Monktash

    Jimmy, he could and I’d welcome it if only he or the club changed their policy a bit. He can’t keep claiming that we’re near to being a great team when we can all see that some players are not good enough, ie the Denaby duo.

    Good article by the way.

  • Monktash

    [quote name=Jimmy] I guess you just made it sound like fact. [/quote]
    That’s cos I’m always right ! 😉 Far too many years spent in the pub with Eldo rubbing off !

  • Jimmy

    I still think JIN in right in saying that it hasn’t been definitive enough.

    If it is that clear then more could be done. Like a ‘Cesc day’, which begins with loud noises of jubilations when you go on the Arsenal website, or some kind of ironic Spanish fanfare, and huge flashing writing on the home page saying CESC IS NOT FOR SALE TO ANYONE FOR ANY PRICE.

    Then get down to the stadium where you can have your picture taken with a wax model of Cesc, or put your head through a hole where Gerard Pique’s face should be and people can throw wet yellow sponges at you. There could be a model Nou Camp made from china for a china smash and at the end of the day the man himself could unveil a life size painting in marble of him scoring against Barca at the Amoury Square.

  • Jimmy

    That might be true that Arsenal have scouts in Barca looking for talent, although while they are not under contract, well, Barca are free to do the same.

    The problem is this constant public unsettling of Cesc which makes Arsenal look like dicks. As for the “Everybody hates Barca”, I think you’re right, we do, I do, although the sad part is Arsenal fans admired Barca for the way they play, as you say. We even did good business but now most of that has been lost.

    But do reply CescBarcelona. I guess by your name you think he will be coming to you this summer?

  • Jimmy

    Cheers. I could see Wenger staying for life. I’d say he is most likely to leave when Arsenal are on top of their game. At the moment I think Wenger can’t leave until he proves everybody wrong. As for doing that, I agree with you, we will always struggle doing it the way we do. If we win the league, the test will be keeping a winning team together, otherwise the cycle starts over again … five more years!

  • Jimmy

    Eldo? Never heard of him!

  • hasco

    Reina is nothing but a fool, i said it again he is a big fool, this show how he was an enemy of arsenal club. i was so suprise when i saw him opening his big mouth shouting cesc the feature of barca, raina are u now a barce player? or u are just an enemy of progress? or u think if cesc go arsenal will stop beating your stupid club? shame on u reina, i use to have respect 4 you before but since that day i saw u on tv introducing a player in a club u are not in man it over, i should have be happy if u said cesc the feature of livepool. let me tell u this A.W will keep cesc on the 16 when we meet with u then u see if arsenal will not beat livepool. keep on introducing players go on and said ronaldo,kaka, etc etc the feature of barca. Is better u respect your self.

  • LeBoss

    Just had this in from Berg10!! 😆

  • odu

    I use to think that puyol and co were expereinced professionals, I didnt know they are blackmailers and thugs. I now know that barcelona is team of thugs in the name of players. Shame on them

  • emmanuel ezekiel

    I think arsenal should just ignore barca if they do sell after this stunt it Should be a 100 million pounds as punishment 4 their latest stunt or sell to real madrid at a very high price. on the whole let barca fans pray they do not fall 2 bankruptcy.

  • swissgooner

    It would be fair to scout in other academies, imo. I don’t think that it’s disrespectful. Remember, Barcelona tried to sign Benik Afobe as he was still a scolar (just before he signed a professional contract with AFC). I don’t remember AFC fans having a problem with that. It would have just been good business. And i don’t think that it would be a problem if AFC sign – let’s say – Gaï Assulin, who is now out of contract. It would just be good business. No lack of respect there.

    Btw, it’s neither disrespectful to be interested in a player of another club nor to make a bid for him. What is disrecpectful is what Barcelone is actually and purposefully doing.

    I still like the Barca’s game, but not their transfer policy…

  • Remi

    What do you guys make of this video of cesc and pique

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ii387pzvyD0&feature=player_embedded

    pretty shameful behavior

  • Remi

    my bad i didn’t see it was posted before

  • Ehibaba

    I think we shouldn’t play dirty like barcelona fc. Let us keep our cool and remain as professional and ethical as ever. Hope we have the opportunity of playing them in CL this coming season. I think that will provide the best opportunity to pay back. ARSENAL FOR LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jaygooner

    Le boss
    Love that pic maybe the first Barca burning will be at Underhill on Saturday?

  • GPeace

    Nice article James. Making a parallelism between Barca’s antics and selfish, pretentious, loud-mouthed, grumpy comedy characters has proved surprisingly apt! 🙂

  • terrel85

    your existence is a joke!

  • Dano

    Fuck it! If we have to sell him, lets sell him to Real Madrid instead.

    That would be th ultimate two fingers at Barca.

    Good piece btw.

  • Stephane

    Its ok Cesc can go next year, unfortunately though that will be when his idol Guardiola comes to take over from Wenger – should wenger leave.

    Cesc is staying put this year – his supposed transfer request should react as a sign that wenger needs to buy quality to support fabregas in the back and up top, because Arsenal and Cesc deserve better than Almunia and Bendtner.

    But the most important afctor is Cesc wants first team football and if Barca dont wanna pay 50million which I think most arsenal fans would be happy with – then there is no indication that he start week in and week out. Which given Barca’s midfield and attack isnt that surprising – although im sure over a season Cesc could force the issue.

    Plus he bought a house in hertfordshire 3 weeks ago – so come back next year barca when you realise that you are ‘just a club’

  • MGooner

    I used to like Barcelona. Of the Spanish teams they were the ones that had my respect the most. Ethically fantastic, sporting the Unicef logo on their shirts and playing great football. Now, and very quickly, they have become my most hated team and, as an Arsenal fan i find it very difficult to dislike a team more than Sp*rs.
    The way Barcelona have behaved is beyond the pale and FIFA should get off their lazy arses and do something about it.
    The way they are trying to get Cesc for much less than he is worth is ridiculous, I mean, if you go into Tesco knowing that something costs £5 and say “I’m going to buy this for £3 give me it”.
    If you do that they will tell you you can’t have it, no matter how many times you say it. You will eventually be told to fuck off and get chucked out by security, unless security are your mates. In this case I guess security are FIFA so maybe we are on to a complete loser.

  • Monktash

    Great analogy.

  • realistic tony

    they all regret leaving arsenal…cesc knows that but probably feels it will be different for him. It won’t…..the novelty will wear off after a year and he will also regret it. He’s emotional about his homeclub….its normal.
    Please remember he loves and respects arsenal and AW…..the young man is in a bit of turmoil…remember he’s only human and a good one at that. Cant you see how desperate barca are? they know they wont get him and are behaving like spoilt brats…obvious to a blind man…and cesc’s reaction to the shirt?….probably he felt a bit sorry for their loss and didnt want to over-react and rub it in that theyve lost this attempt to get him.

  • TJ14

    Busquets is the latest barca w*nker to profess undying bum love for Cesc. Who is left?

    Just the foreign players who don’t give a sh*t if he comes or not.

  • CescBarcelona

    Although Barça can do the same (and I’m sure they do) still I don’t like it. Many Barça fans dislikes Arsenal because we receive the information AFC is “fishing” very young players around the world. As you said they’re not under contract so they’re no professional. Are you sure everybody agrees the transfer?. You only need to offer a job to his father and they move to your country. Is that fair?. That’s probably why some Barça fans think AFC deserve this situation. I don’t agree.

    Barça is doing wrong. Laporta did wrong and now Rosell. Rosell should say to press “We don’t speak about Cesc or any player with contract”. He spoke about Cesc before the elections and know is talking about the price of the deal. It’s very silly movement if they really want Cesc.

    My name was because I was looking for information about the transfer. I really don’t know. The name doesn’t mean Fuck you he will be our player. All Barça fans like Cesc because he is from La Masia and one of the best midfields in the world (thank you to Arsenal) but we are not all agree about the transfer. There are different opinions: we don’t need him (Xavi and Iniesta are doing well), very expensive deal, if he wants to move why he signed til 2015…etc.

    Those journalist who said is sure he will move now they say it is difficult. They’re professional liers and I don’t trust them so I don’t know.

  • CescBarcelona

    Of course Barça have scouts. I’m not trying to say “We are the good ones and you’re evil”. You don’t remember AFC fans angry about Afobe’s case because he is still in AFC. Otherwise you would have seen a demonstration burning Barça shirts :). If you had lost a child and finally becomes a great player you would have cursed who stole you because now you can’t pay his real price or you don’t want to do it.

    There is no problem with Assulin, he’s 19 and his contract expired but I don’t like child transfers. They can’t decide and not all the parents are worried about formation. I accept that happens but I prefer when everybody is happy with the business (not blind-side).

    I agree Barça are doing wrong in Cesc’s case but it is not their policy. It’s really a very special case and a special moment (elections time and a new president trying to impress Barça fans)

  • AJH

    Who’s got a brilliant Reina chant for opening day???

    Has to be absolutely horrific obviously!