We’re months away from a decision and already I can’t stand it. The Cesc Fàbregas transfer saga that is. The “will he or won’t he” has become an annual ritual in recent seasons. I’m heartily sick of it. It’s become a cheap, lazy standby on slow football news days. I have no idea whether he’ll stay or go in the summer. Only Cesc himself does and he may well not have finally made his mind up.
What’s for certain is a) he’ll make the decision and nobody else. That’s how football rolls these days b) we’d get a decent transfer fee for him as he’s contracted to us until 2014 and c) the issue will run and run in the media as there are presidential elections at Barcelona this summer.
Balagué is Catalan himself and is thoughtful and informed. I’ve always thought he’d go back to Barcelona at some stage in his career. It’s always been a question of when not if for me. I hope we can keep him for at least two more seasons. The current crisis of confidence at the club, particularly amongst supporters can’t be helping to tip the balance in favour of staying. I don’t see him going to Real Madrid, considered the ultimate betrayal by Catalans, but I wouldn’t rule it out. Luís Figo made the move, although he’s Portuguese and not Catalan he is still a figure of intense hatred amongst the Barça faithful.
On his first return to the Nou Camp with Real Madrid there was a huge banner saying “¡TE ODIAMOS TANTO PORQUE TE AMABAMOS TANTO!” (WE HATE YOU SO MUCH BECAUSE WE LOVED YOU SO MUCH!). Figo was an established star at Barça whereas Cesc left as a young teenager, nevertheless he can expect the bird to say the very least if he signed for Real Madrid. I’d imagine the hurt could be soothed if he were to be offered a large enough sack of €500 notes however. This will be the last I time I shall blog on this issue until and if we have some firm news one way or the other. I’m already sick of it. We have more pressing issues to concern ourselves with, like Stamford Bridge on Sunday. That’s all I’m worried about right now.
A belting at the Bridge would put a very large hole in our already fragile confidence. It would all but certainly put the final nail in the coffin our chances of the title, which are already slim, despite Chelsea dropping two points out of what seemed like a certain three at the KC Stadium during the week. A win on Sunday and we’d only be three or four points behind the leaders, depending on Manchester United’s result. A win for us on Sunday doesn’t seem very likely at the moment I confess but that’s got to be our objective. A look at the goals against column reveals the problem. We’ve conceded 28, 14 at home and 14 away. Chelsea has conceded just 20, 8 at home and 12 away. Manchester United has an identical defensive record to Chelsea. Just think back and remember how many of the goals we’ve conceded have come not because we play an open attacking style but because of stupid schoolboy defensive and goalkeeping errors. As the old football cliché goes attack wins games but defence wins trophies. This is the most pressing issue we have to address, followed by our continuing tendency to allow ourselves to be bullied in the middle of the park. Particularly in this league, you have to earn the right to play.
Let us however retain a sense of perspective. We’re third in the League and still in the Champions League. No, we shouldn’t be content with being perennial contenders. We all want to win the game’s biggest prizes. It isn’t as if we’re light-years away from being a very good team though. We need to keep that in mind.