Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Chelsea and Mourinho Re-enacting An Illusion

Jose Mourinho's widely speculated return to Stamford Bridge is a heartbeat away, now his services at the Bernabeu has been officially designated to come to an end after Real Madrid plays it's last league game of the season this weekend against Osasuna.
The history of the game is replete with reunions of such dimensions - amongst many notable ones would be UDO LATTEK who had two very successful managerial spells at Bayern Munich, straddling the 70's and 80's. GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI likewise had a double spell of glory with Juventus ( incidentally both men share the record as the only ones to have won the three major UEFA Club competitions) ; and not to forget HOWARD KENDALL who managed Everton in three spells in the 80's and 90's. It is a given that only special managers who have brought a Club landmark achievements, and share a deep bond with the club and it's supporters would ever get the privilege of a sequel.
Jose Mourinho put Chelsea on the map with back to back premier league titles in 04/05 and 05/06 seasons, and his footprints remain a rallying point for the chelsea faithful. It would not be a hyperbole to state that club and coach have flirted with one another during their estrangement, and there is a sense of unfinished business.

Frank Lampard (left): Won the Premier League twice under Mourinho

REUNION : IF Chelsea and Mourinho do indeed get hitched for a second time, it bears paradoxical undertones for both. It's not just that the relationship has gone full circle, it is an implicit admission of a lack of fulfillment in their unilateral endeavours over the last six years, and as much a desire to relive those shared glories. Could it be a project not just to win trophies, but to take Chelsea to the next level ? Whichever, if those temperamental flaws, systemic malformations, and illogical objectives remain entrenched in Chelsea and Jose Mourinho, as history suggests still does, then my prognosis is a part 2 shall be unsustainable, short lived, with a bitter ending. Here's what Jose Mourinho said of Chelsea in 2010 :

          "Chelsea have suffered in the last two years, and it's no coincidence their decline
           happened after i left "...........

CHELSEA: Strange will be the apposite characterization of the Club. Roman Abramovich set out to spend hundreds of millions to short circuit unprecedented success in the absence of a history. To date, nine managers in ten years, eleven trophies won (excluding the community shields)  and still in search of an identity. The Club remains an epicenter of volatility. I hear a chorus of dissent to that... yes, they have an expensive collection of talented players, and have won six different titles including the Champions League since they sacked mourinho in 2007, but still do not possess the confidence to concoct a post-Mourinho blue print, and truly move on. Has the vast sums spent on players by their owner Roman Abramovich got them playing with flair and attraction ? the jury is still out..... moreover when managers change virtually every season, and speculation hovers constantly, how can the team harness a style, under such stifling conditions. A good majority of the managers sacked by the current Chelsea regime are not doing badly elsewhere either, which proves what ever failings that occurred at Chelsea, was ambience related. Chelsea have got to further reinvent themselves from being a club in emergency, needy, and short-term in approach, to be mentioned in the same breath as the true giants of European Football.  Without a stadium befitting of it's ambitions, reliance on a benefactor, carrying unsustainable debts , a sclerotic youth system, an absence of  continuity and a coherent-harmonious plan, it hasn't the gravitas, nor the proper foundations needed..... I just wonder if Mourinho is the character to sort out the rowdiness, engender regeneration and a vision the Club remain oblivious to.

Chelsea celebrate their Europa League success this year

THE SPECIAL ONE: A magnet for trophies, charismatic, a great motivator, and an adept counterintuitive strategist. Sadly, Jose Mourinho has a pugnacious, parochial and wildly egocentric persona. A peripatetic manager looking to rejoin forces with a club he was sacked in acrimonious circumstances. Mourinho's loftily crafted reputation as a winner is going to face some severe scrutiny from hereon. High profile clubs make or mar you.... His spectacularly tempestuous time in Italy with Inter Milan, and Real Madrid in Spain has defined another layer to Mourinho as a manager. Controversy and trophies seem to be his  abiding shadows;  Coaches, the media, and fans in both countries were happy to see the back of him. He has brawled with Barcelona, the Spanish media, and his own players. After his TKO in Spain, a return to London could not come quickly enough for him. He is effusive about his "love" of England, and wanting to be where he is "loved", perhaps referring to Chelsea.  The media in England have rolled out the red carpet, seeing him in box office terms; and the Chelsea players are sucking up to him in droves with their publicized endorsements of his return. When the high-fives finish, the canoodling is over, and the frenzy surrounding Mourinho's re-appointment subsides, his contentious and caustic effect shall return to football in England. Let's see how it's taken to this time around.  

Jose Mourinho: Will be departing Real Madrid at the end of the season

CAN A DEAL BE SEALED ? I am persuaded Chelsea and Mourinho are at the wrong place at the wrong time. These two cannot get it : deep inherent flaws pre-exist.... no, not in the relationship, but in the individual make up of the parties. Most collaborations of this kind tend to be conflict prone. A Club owned and financed practically by a single, wealthy individual run on his whims, with no technocrat of repute who has his ears.....  Little wonder the energy around the club tends to be raw and undeveloped even after all the trophies won. The last one year exemplifies that - Champions League winners, Europa Cup winners, almost £100 million on new players, and yet a return to Mourinho. That is volatility and a lack of vision. For Mourinho, what shape would he arrive in from Madrid ? battle weary and exposed as lacking in tact and diplomacy when there is troubled waters; primarily interested in protecting his authority, winning and  self-exhibiting. There is no doubt more trophies will arrive, and mutual egos stroked, but it won't be too long before tension and strife re-visits. The stage may not be big enough for a Club and Manager who potentially create a dynamic of drama and attention. The parts can never exceed the sum in any construct. This reunion is a  re-enactment of a blissful illusion they need to wake up from.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Substance Behind Wayne Rooney's Blustering

England Striker Wayne Rooney seems to be at an impasse with his Club Manchester United for reasons that are misty, and the subject of quite a bit of speculation at the moment. The fundamentals of the story in all probability began the very minute Robin van Persie signed for £24 Million from Arsenal last summer. One can conjecture a percolation of strain over the months till it reached a watershed in Manchester United's Champions League, 2nd round, first leg clash against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu last February : Wayne Rooney was on the bench, Alex Ferguson opting for van Persie and Danny Welbeck in attack. You needn't be a fly on the wall in the home side's dressing room at Old Trafford to gain insight to the knowledge something was amiss between Wayne Rooney and Sir Alex Ferguson all this long.
A week ago, Alex Ferguson, in what I judge to be pre-meditated, after all these months of prevaricating, told the World, the Red Devils' number 10 had asked for a transfer, and was not in the mood to be involved in the Club's last home game of the season. A game laced in significance, as it was Fergie's last at old Trafford, before his retirement, and a day the Premier League championship trophy was to be presented.

READ : The Man Utd Dynamic Guarantees Continuum

Alex Ferguson would  not have had enough time to deal with the Wayne Rooney issue whilst prosecuting the re-capture of the league championship he knew was to be his last ; so, he must have blanked Rooney for bigger matters, but let the state of affairs with the player be known at his earliest convenience, before retiring, and washing his hands of it, allowing new manager David Moyes to deal with the issue

DISAFFECTION : From Mark Hughes to Eric Cantona, Andy Cole to Ruud van Nistelrooy, Dimitar Berbatov to Robin van Persie, Alex Ferguson was never scared to hire and fire his strikers. For good measure, leaving a few to rot in the reserves when the situation calls for it. Wayne Rooney is one case that he perhaps never quite got clean strike of. Wayne Rooney signed for almost £30 million at the age of 18 in 2004. The move bore all the hallmarks of Fergie's swashbuckling style when capturing marksmen he knew could do the job for him. I'll never be clear as to how Fergie saw Rooney's long term place in attack, but one thing that can never be denied is how Rooney played with versatility for Manchester United to accommodate the likes of Louis Saha, Carlos Tevez, Cristiano Ronaldo in the past. Rooney not only played out of position, he worked damn hard for the team chasing back, and tackling. If you check his goal scoring stats, it's only in the last 4 years it 's begun to look anything like that of the player of his goal scoring potential. That's more or less a consequence of him being the knob for tactical variations in United's attack. There is no question Fergie loved his utility. Wayne Rooney also evolved remarkably at a technical level in the last two to three years: Being a link between midfield and attack, dropping into pockets, giving diversity to attacking angles in his passing and positional play. Ever capable of scoring all types of goals..... ditto setting them up for team mates. I can affirm only a handful of top strikers who can compare to Rooney's ability as a multi-dimensional attacker / striker. That makes him one of the best of a rare breed.
As Wayne Rooney has approached his late twenties after all his toil, selflessness for the cause, and the added value of his positive transformation as a player, perhaps like his contemporaries Ronaldo, Messi, Falcao, Luis Suarez, he ought to feel trusted by his manager, and empowered to play the starring role in Manchester United's attack.  I personally believed that moment had arrived in the 2011/12 season when he scored 27 times in 34 league games ( 34 goals in 44 games for the season ). He looked to be enjoying his game, but United lost the championship race to Man City, then Alex Ferguson recruits Robin van Persie, and that in my analysis would have evoked consternation with Wayne Rooney, because it meant in spite of the wonderful goal scoring season he had, the club bought another striker, and placed him on a similar salary.

Sir Alex Ferguson: Wayne Rooney not his issue anymore

FACTS: A lot of folks in the media have made mischief of Wayne Rooney's demotion this season, and I see that as unfair. The lad reserves the right to some misgivings, and perhaps some outright sulking. No doubt Robin van Persie has been dynamite this season, but a closer look at the stats tells you his presence actually had a detrimental effect  on the other strikers in the squad as this blogger had suggested last August

READ: Man Utd's Dilemma or Collateral Damage ?

Javier Hernandez played  22 times in the league ( most as sub ) in the 2012 /13 season, scoring 10 goals, having scored 10 in 28 league games in the 2011/12 season. Six games less, and treading water; while England striker Danny Welbeck scored once in 26 league games last season, a shortfall of 4 games and 8 goals on the 2011/12 campaign. It goes unnoticed Robin van Persie who got 26 from 38 games this finished season actually scored four less  than in same number of games in his last season with Arsenal. It can hardly be denied Robin van Persie was selected more than any other striker in the team to enable him bed-in, and the decision brought in the added value - his goal scoring feat. It could also be argued that he did not necessarily need to monpolize that platform, given he is an established premiership goal scorer, fight for his place like everyone else. In the final statistical analysis, Rooney had a better goal ratio of 27 in 34 league games in the futile 2011/12 season when he was the main striker than the Dutch striker's this season ( figures above ) Is that wrong were it to be a bone of contention for Rooney, and his reason for disaffection ? If all three strikers - Rooney, Hernandez, and Welbeck  did not empirically register an up-tick in the stats in like for like seasons, you need not be a Rocket Scientist to fathom the root cause reason for that if Robin van Persie was Manchester United's star man in attack this season. I'll reiterate my argument from last summer and that is you cannot keep four relatively young international strikers happy at the same time, in a high profile club like Man United, in today's game. The motivation / De-motivation theories are bound to conflict as winners and losers emerge from the prevailing circumstance, even if the consequence was unintentional. It's basic human nature.

Danny Welbeck: Appreciates the support of Wayne Rooney on and off the field.

END GAME; Rooney drove a hard bargain a year and half ago in attaining a pay rise. It's open to interpretation if that influenced Fergie's determination to bring in a rival or a compliment, which ever way you view the capture of van Persie, and the primadona attacker's position he occupied in the season gone by. On the other hand, Wayne Rooney's request for a transfer is a game of chicken, and the sort of posturing designed to turn the screws on the club and manager. I do not believe he resents United so much he wants leave with immediate effect, but rather a screech of frustration at his nascent alpha status coming under jeopardy by Fergie's design. New Manager David Moys takes the situation fully in the face, and would have to come up with a tactical plot to accommodate Rooney and van Persie in tandem. Quick solutions have to be espoused to avert an unforced error on the part of Club and player. Nice introduction for Mr. David Moyes.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Mancini takes the Bait in City's Smoke and Mirrors

Manchester City, this time last year, looked a cool outfit, as they were on the verge of being Champions of England for the first time in over four decades. The calibre of players on their roster, the optimism and euphoria at the Etihad Stadium, got me thinking they were in a position to rattle cages, not just in the Premier league in England, but in the Champions league as well. Sadly, though, the whole Club has  handled it's post-championship triumph worse than amateur actors auditioning a clown's role. Blue Moon has transcended into a pervasion of blue frustration. The ill  advised plutocrats who own the club have created a bureaucratic mess with their lop-sided  appointment of Ferran Sorriano ( Chief Executive) and technical  director Txiki Bergiristain, after City became champions, and suddenly the air is foul. The pair may have been great for Barcelona, but once they got on board, there was a strangeness about how the club went about their dealings in last summer's transfer window. It's odd for league champions to lose out on all their major transfer targets - in this case Robin van Persie and Eden Hazard. Do I sense the new Men had a different agenda from the manager !

READ : Man City Charred in Jose Mourinho's Firestorm

THE MANAGER: Roberto Mancini came into the season with a feeble mindset : his tactical dogma in-indefensible, his utterances ridiculous  and pathetic at times. Go back to what he said about his team's wobbly defending at the beginning of the season ; then the public criticism of Samir Nasri, and Captain Vincent Kompany ! That dreadful performance in the away loss to Southampton..... strange he never sorted out the immobility, and lack of application in attack. That lack of incisive creativity cost City their title. Mancini was sleep-walking through the season. Perhaps he never got over the snub of his transfer requests by his bosses. His demeanour was all wrong, and his team mirrored it. Too many of his players had a flat season. David Silva and Carlos Tevez the most notable culprits. The manager never gave an explanation for all of this.

Roberto Mancini: Sacked a year to the day he won the Premier League title with Manchester City

MISMANAGEMENT: My view is that the whole club ought to have coalesced, and built incrementally for this season.  The divergence in means to objectives between the echelon in authority and the manager resulted in a dysfunctional and bland sort of season for them. If success was awfully managed,  then sacking the manager is predictable hubris. Fixing the latent cause of what went wrong would have been a smarter choice. Those issues were primarily the result of a foul atmosphere. As earlier stated, there was a chain of events that sparked it. If it is said Mancini failed with the objectives for this season, why give him a contract extension a year ago without a proper evaluation ? by the way, when has football results ever followed a written script ? No amount of money can ever guarantee anything in football. Yes, a bit more could have run for Manchester City, especially in the champions league, but is it not logical that experience is needed, and that includes failing, and learning !
Mancini's rumoured replacement, Manuel Pellegrini of Malaga is a fine specimen of a coach. His teams have played attractively, but was he not sacked by Real Madrid three years ago after one season in charge, and winning zilch ! And how do you reconcile his limited English speaking skills, a multi-national dressing room, and the cut throat demands of the wise men who run the club. Let's cut through the fog, and say Mancini was bundled out for political reasons. A Spanish chief executive, a Spanish technical director, and a Spanish speaking coach now linked to the club is enough reason for my assertion. Something does not add up, it's politics, it's about congeniality,  control and authority,  and I see the shadows of Sorriano and Bergiristain in a room  covered in blue smoke and mirrors.

CLASSY MARTINEZ : What ever happens to Wigan this season, Roberto Martinez journey to becoming a coach held in high esteem has gained traction. When the Pep Guardiola mania has run it's course, there will be another classy and intellectual Spaniard on the lips of the Soccer community.  This young, and decorous manager shall go places. He is going about his business the right way with his playing style, and man-management skills. His credentials have been further burnished by Wigan's FA Cup victory last saturday. I am the last person to be surprised about that. This blogger had predicted from the semi-final stages, the finalists and the winners.

Ben Watson: Lost for words after scoring FA Cup winner

You want to know ?

READ:  Paulo Di Canio A Rebel in Re-invention

Congratulations to Wigan and it's chairman Dave Whelan. Relegation or not, Wigan should be applauded for bringing back real romance to the FA Cup. We had not seen such drama since Coventry's 3-2 win over Spurs 1987, and Wimbledon's 1-0 victory over star-studded Liverpool in 1988. It's refreshing to see a small but well run club with a heart and soul win something over sides that are bursting with multi-millions, but have a messed up agenda. A team that cost £11 million gains victory over another where one single player costs £25 million, is a triumph of logic over exuberance. And how about Roberto Martinez sumptuous feign at tossing the FA Cup in the direction of Wigan fans : To do that in the first instant he holds the trophy aloft is old fashioned, and a touch of class. Nothing, not even relegation can wipe away those magical scenes.

Frank Lampard: Hero for Chelsea as he breaks goalscoring record

FRANK CONGRATS : Congratulations to Frank Lampard for becoming Chelsea's all time leading scorer. I must confess I have been an enduring critic of the player, but the way he has handled the adversity that has come his way in the last two season reflects the exemplary character of the man, and I respect that alongside his unquestionable professionalism. Last season he looked to be in the scrap yard during the short tenure of Andreas Vilas Boas. Once he got back in the side under Roberto Di Mateo, he never looked out of place. In the Champions league semi-final, second leg clash against Barcelona at the Nou Camp, last season, he delivered an awesome and powerful display. After helping the club win the champions league, and going into the final year on his contract, Lampard has continued to deliver for Chelsea, scoring vital goals when he plays, in what's been stop-start playing time. We all know the man deserves recognition and respect for his contributions, and has openly desired an extension of his stay at Chelsea, but the wise folks who run Chelsea have left him in the dark. Frank has been exceptional in conduct despite the merry go round in Chelsea's mickey mouse club house management style. He may be over-rated in the technical sphere of midfield play, but his fitness, strength, motivation, resilience, and goal scoring from midfield  makes him one of the best . England's all time top scorer from midfield - 28 goals in 95 games for country ; 141 premiere league goals for Chelsea in 12 seasons, their record goal scorer with 203 goals in 607 games, for a midfielder, is magnificent. I doff my heart. He deserves more time at the highest level..... and who says it has to be Chelsea !

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Man Utd Dynamic Guarantees Continuum

Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United's legendary manager draws the curtain on his unprecedented reign at Old Trafford. His accomplishments and career length guaranteed to be unparalleled  in the wider world of soccer. The execution of events leading to his departure was carried out with military precision - strategic, and a public relations success. It was fitting of the great man to have out-foxed us once again with the timing, and control of his destiny.
I still remember Manchester United sacking Big Ron Atkinson in the winter of 1986, announcing his replacement as Alex Ferguson. I found it an incredulous decision. Then a youngster, I could not fathom Martin Edwards and the board's visions at the time in bringing Aberdein's very successful
manager to the club. Maybe United should have recruited a better known manager from the English league would  be the more refined way to reprise my frame of mind from 1986.

Ferguson: Merson says his team will thrash Swansea in his honour!

l: : LEGACY: Alex Ferguson is a freak of nature, an inimitable phenomenon. His twenty six years as manager at Old Trafford would be read repeatedly in football's folklore. For all his achievements, what stands out for me is not the trophies he won, but his character, drive, passion, determination, and hunger : and how those incredible characteristics he combined never waned with victories and landmark successes. A Club's stature and history is the beginning and the end. Managers are brought in to immortalize the club's narrative. Sir Alex diffused himself, his work, and his objectives into the Manchester United frame work. It is often loosely construed the great man built the club in his image. That argument does not hold water in my opinion, and is anachronistic. It's been a symbiotic relationship. The Manchester United story-line is, and always will be the platform. Sir Alex Ferguson was strong and relentless at how he conditioned his teams over the years in the values and history of the club. That was the lightning rod in the counter insurgency to Liverpool's dominance of the late 70's and 80's. Liverpool only won two league titles in sir Alex's reign. That has deep connotations. He no doubt was a key figure in engendering and the enlargement of the Manchester United dynamic.

SUCCESSION APPREHENSION : Some fans are hung up on Alex Ferguson, and he personified  the club's dominance. Their present consternation and apprehension is understandable. Whatever the name of his replacement, doubts would hold. Solace ought to be taken from the fact that Alex Ferguson was active in the process of anointing his successor. He would have known all that is needed about David Moyes before his stamp of approval. I am certain his character and temperament would have been assessed and analyzed  from A-Z. He more than anyone else would know that to be a strong currency of David Moyes. The fans have got to trust his judgement as always, and remaining as a director is an insurance policy for club, the fans, and the new manager in the transition period. I think they got that spot on. 

WHY MOYES WILL DO WELL : fans would  have envisaged Fergie's replacement to come on board with a track record for laurels.  David Moyes comes  to old Trafford with a blank sheet in  that department. History tells us that does not need to  be an issue at very big clubs like Manchester United. Fabio Capello was an unknown quantity when he replaced the widely respected Arrigo Sacchi at AC Milan  in 1991. In his first season in charge, he guided Milan to the league championship. Marcello Lippi was not a household name when he took over the Juventus Manager's job in 1994 from the revered  Giovanni Trapatoni, who had managed Juve' in two spells for a combination of thirteen years, winning so many trophies. Yet, Lippi won the championship in his first season in charge 94'/95. Bill shankly plotted Liverpool's renaissance in the late sixties, and even after he retired in the early seventies, the club enjoyed it's brightest spell under a succession managers - Bob Paisely, Joe Fagan, and Kenny Dalglish. All three winning at least the League championship in their different spells as manager. When Pep Guardiola took charge of Barcelona in 2008, he had no pedigree as a manager, but look at the outstanding  success he produced. The heart of the matter is that great clubs like Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus, and  Manchester United have  Core Values, Stature, an Apparatus, the Best players, and tremendous Financial leverage. These five qualities are riveted, and almost certainly guarantee a continuum of the Club's elite status and brand. David Moyes would be fostered in these pre-existing conditions, and it should dissipate the pressure. His job is not necessarily more difficult, neither does he have to replicate Fergie. The key thing is to merge his talent and hard work towards the Manchester United ethic, trophies shall arrive, and the club will go on to the next level in it's impressive journey. 

David Moyes: Departing Everton boss bound for Manchester United

UNSIGHTED:  David Moyes might have not won a trophy at Everton, but if you walk the story back to Everton's position when he took over in 2002, and to the club's position now, then David Moyes must know a thing or two. Lets not forget, He took over from a one time Alex Fergusson assistant, and a respected name, Walter Smith. Ferguson had affiliations with  Walter Smith, and his time as Everton's manager was one of the worst in the club's recent history. When Moyes took over form Walter Smith, the team were in the lower rungs of the premiership, but re-established it as a stable, top seven club it is today. That is a feat. A lack of champions league experience ? Man United have players and coaching staff with that sort of experience. Players egos?  Moyes could not have survived for eleven years as a premiership manager without being able to deal with such.  On the tactical side, he got Everton solid and hard to beat ;  with the layer of attacking talent at his disposal at Man United, there is enough reason to suggest he can make his new team even stronger. It takes a really bad coach to reverse a good team. That seldom happens in football. As Alex Ferguson said, he wanted to leave with the club in a strong position. David Moyes inherits a team that are champions, and is at a club with enormous tradition, history, and financial powers. The Manchester United dynamic would lead the way for Moyes as it did for Sir Alex Ferguson.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Barca must now tinker with Tiki-taka

In the wake of Barcelona's exit from this season's Champions League at the hands of Bayern Munich, many commentators have opined Tiki-taka,  Barcelona's widely acclaimed, and ultra-successful tactical concept is moribund. Another school of thought have it to be the end of an "era" - such was Bayern's superiority in play over the two-legged semi-finals, and the siren aggregate score line of 7-0. Who would blame anyone one for their assertions Barcelona and Tiki-taka are washed up. Others say a shift has now been recorded, and German Clubs now hold the balance of power.
There is no doubt Barca and their flamboyant style have been stymied somewhat in the last two champions league semi-finals by Chelsea, and recently Bayern Munich, but what we must not forget too quickly is how successful and attractive this tactical formula adopted by Barca over the last twenty years has been. Johan Cryuff's ( manager from 1989 - 1996 ) dream team featuring the likes of Romario, Hristo Stiochkov, and a certain Pep Guardiola played to the concept of total football winning four straight spanish titles, and the champions league in 1992, beating Sampdoria 1-0. When Barca got beaten 4-0 in the '94 champions league final by AC Milan, the outcry then was similar to current trends:The magic is gone!! Frank Rikyaard won back- to- back Spanish titles 04/05 and 05/06, plus the champions league in 2006
playing the Barca way. Pep took the reins in 2008, modified total football into what it is today - tiki-taka and won three successive titles plus two champions league triumphs between 2008 and 2012. Another La liga title beckons in 2013 for his successor, Tito Vallanueva. The ethos behind this revered system is enduring, and it's application still evolving, even though it has hit a brick wall at the moment, it's foundations are resilient, and it's further success a given.

Dani Alves: Brazilian defender tangles with Franck Ribery

THEORIES OF A FALL : A plethora of reasons have been espoused  for Barca's abject thrashing by Bayern Munich in the champions league semi finals.  One universal theory holds true:  the origins of today's decay emanated from yesterday's success ; as much as today's success was sprouted from yesterday's decay. The team has lost it's sparkle in the last one year to be precise, even before the departure of Pep Guardiola. As an observer, it's been due paramountly to the team's inability to attack with the intensity, and speed it formerly did. You might add that the approach play has been one dimensional, and overly orchestrated to pander to Messi's finishing prowess. In other words, not only has this slowed their attacking moves - waiting for  Messi to arrive in the box by stealth leaves the shape of the team severely vulnerable to the counter attack. Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid took full advantage of this flaw, and has used it as an antidote in meetings with Barca in the last one year.  PSG further hinted in this season's champions league quarter finals clash with the catalans that,  defending  soundly, with  an appetite to attack Barcelona is a recipe for beating them.  Barcelona's football concept is underpinned by copious ball retention, and closing down opponents  in their own half (pressing ) to regain possession. it's evident the tactic is geared towards attack, and perhaps recently, the balance has not been right with their defensive positioning  when teams counter-attack.  In addition, the team has looked jaded, lacking  sharpness, a cutting edge, and the requisite diversity in attack. Historically, Barcelona's best defense is their attack; ironically, Messi's grounding- breaking, goal scoring records actually accentuates the difference between  balanced, concerted attacking play, and goal scoring. Do not be fooled into believing the latter is necessarily  a concomitant of the first.

INCREMENTAL CHANGE : Barca's deeply entrenched playing style is pure and beautiful. However, perhaps it is due a re-calibration. Who is qualified to teach  them about what they do so well ! Who is to say they would not have been in a better position had coach Titto Villanueva not gone seriously ill for two months at the beginning of the year. Whatever you want to call it, Barca are in need of a healthier variety of defensive players. The short comings: Mascherano playing out of position in defense should been a non-starter; Puyol is in his thirties, and creaky, then Abidal has just returned from Liver transplant, and Sergio Busquests like mascherano is not a permanent solution at centre back either. PSG's Thaigo Silva recently said he almost joined Barcelona in the close season, I would definitely see the rejuvenation of their centre back positions as intrinsic to their revival next season.  Be it  with tiki-taka, or any other variant they choose to follow  subsequently, it is about time proper defending became compatible with their famous attacking play. If Messi sores so many goals, would it not make sense if they had the means to shut teams out as well ! Barca have for too long treated defending as poor relations. 
The squad is also paper thin, and what we have learned from the likes of Bayern this season is that it's pertinent to have the right options on the bench. The season is long and hard, the likes of  Cuenca, Tellio,  and Thiago are talented, but short in the regard of making the necessary impact if thrown at the deep end.  Barca need to broaden the frame work to find another level in order to maintain their recent gains. The competition domestically, and in Europe is gettimg  fiercer. Fresh impetus is needed, pragmatism  can be infused in the aesthetics of Tiki-taka. Time for calm reflection.

GERMAN FLAVOUR : The first ever all German Champions league final has given credence to the wide spread perception that Germany hold the balance of power at the moment in European Club football. I am not swayed by that analysis. It's way too early to call, or draw such conclusions. Bayern Munich are playing in their third straight champions league final, but we forget they won nothing for the last two seasons. Their vast resources enabled them augment their squad significantly in the last two years.  Bayern were traditionally not such big spenders, so we cannot under-play how that has affected their progress. They spent big to make this progress, and it would be mendacious to suggest the top echelon of German clubs have equated  Bayern's position. 

Marco Reus: Hopes players stay at Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund have been the revelation of this season's champions league. The manner and character they showed in edging past Read Madrid in the semi-finals was enthralling. The relatively young team plays very intelligently from back to front,  allied with that is a tremendous work ethic, pressing the opposition in sub-units all over the pitch. Jurgen Klopp, Dortmund's coach, must be given loads of credit for the philosophy with which they play. It's no accident, the team plays with the logic they do, and to have  reached this level of success without necessarily spending anywhere near what Bayern Munich have, is commendable. Having said that, what they have achieved this  season does not mean Dortmund have created a shift. At best you can say they have generated momentum, and maybe Bundesliga clubs are in a healthier financial state than their counterparts  across the continent, but we have to wait and see where all of this leads.