Barcelona are the envy of the football World. Their brand of relentless pressing and audacious attacking is unrivalled, considered by many the most beauteous spectacle of the beautiful game. They also possess a world class first team nucleus, born and bred from their highly acclaimed youth academy. Taking all these qualities into consideration, I would argue they are indisputably the best club in the World at present and perhaps even the greatest team there has ever been.
The club’s structure off the pitch emulates and sustains the superior standards set on it. They are light-years ahead of the competition with regards to their whole club infrastructure, which is one that many English Premiership teams could benefit immensely in replicating.
Barcelona have a Worldwide membership scheme (one of the largest of its kind) where millions of fans are registered members and with that status they receive certain unique benefits. They are actively seen as a core component in deciding the club’s direction, members are not only free to express their opinion on club matters, with the club happy to offer various outlets as sounding boards, but they actually listen and response to feedback which then effects decisions at the top level of the club. Presidential elections are held every four years for presidency of the club and the members are allocated a vote for who they think is the ideal candidate. All this means the club is unlike those in England and the rest of Europe, given the fact it can never be sold to an outside party or foreign billionaire, and if ever the fans don’t like the guy in-charge, they can simply choose to exhibit their power and influence, voting to elect a new president every four years and vote on a change of directors every two years.
Some might argue well that’s all great, but football is like any other business, it’s about making money and Barcelona are also one of the richest clubs in the World. To compound matters further, they do all this without ever receiving any money from shirt sponsorship, in-fact they currently choose to do the exact opposite and instead pay the charity UNICEF to sponsor them!
Barcelona’s club structure and philosophies differ considerably from other major clubs such as Manchester City Chelsea or Real Madrid. They have all enjoyed recent successes, courtesy of mammoth transfer spending, but in comparison to Barcelona any win is a hollow one, as they have exclusively bought the success by allowing millionaire business men to make the club their plaything and distort the club in their own image. Manchester City haven’t bought well and with all their spending ripped out the beating heart of the club by allowing their talented youth products to become bit-part players . This is a hefty price to pay, especially given their failure to achieve the minimum pre-season objective of fourth place in the Premiership. Stephen Ireland, who was fantastic the season before last, has been completely overlooked since Mancini arrived. Fellow youth graduate Wright Phillips who was always the club’s main creative force, has also been displaced by new signing Johnson. Micah Richards is solid and has shown huge promise has also been outed by players who aren’t significant upgrades. Most criminally of all, young striker Daniel Sturridge who has already shown enough promise to suggest he will be an England regular, was recently released by the club without being given enough game-time and has since gone to Chelsea who also continue to ostracise him.
Chelsea and Real Madrid are just laughable clubs really, spending gigantic sums carelessly on seemingly abitrary names that are the flavour of the month. like something out of a virtual football management game. In my opinion you lose something really valuable when your club has little youth representation, your club identity and mentality are disfigured and become lost, which ultimately effects performances on the pitch.
I hate everything about Chelsea in particular, right from the player’s arrogant attitude on the pitch, Drogba’s diving, Terry and co. harassment of referees, and Ashley Cole and Terry’s antic off the pitch. They are rightfully champions and I usually would adore any team that wins and plays and scores as freely as they have this season, but I just feel nothing but contempt for them really, they are such an easily hateable team. Given the players character, the smugness of the average Chelsea fan and the way they have acquired their wealth and trophies. It’s just not honourable, they have not won by playing on a level playing field and by fair means. They have won purely because a random billionaire shafted a lot of people in Russia and then randomly chose Chelsea over another London club, it all feels so soulless.
Whereas Barca’s model is surely the pure and ethical way to run a club. They have a more pronounced club identity which translate to a deeper understanding and cohesan on the pitch and ultimately success. They don’ t mercfully poach the stars of tomorrow, like so many others, but create and mould their own players, in their own image. This deep club identity has been highlighted most recently with the promotion of untried ex-player Guardiola from the B team to first team manager.
They all play as one knitted compact web that attack as one, press as one and defend as one. They are taught to be humble, and play as a team, expressive themselves and be tactically and technically aware. If you analyse the first team games this is exactly what you see, but it is instilled right through every level of the playing and coaching staff, blue prints handed down by Barca’s dream team of the 90′s marshalled by Johan Cruyff. They don’t just play to win, they want to entertain and be universally accepted as the best irrespective of results. It runs so much deeper than your average player-club connection, so deep, that they almost feel an obligation to go back and an affinity to stay. As evidenced by Pique’s immensely impressively return from Manchester United and Fabregas’s clear desire to return home, after deciding to depart Barcelona’s academy at 16 in favour of Arsenal’s fast tracking system for talented foreign youth. This kind of relationship with Barcelona’s graduates is testament to the bond. No pre-madonnas, no egos, no me! me! me! like some *cough* Real Madrid/Mourinho/Ronaldo*cough*. This family like relationship at Barcelona is further highlighted by their Catalan identity, embodied by the club motto “mes que un club” (more than just a club) which amplifies the fans viewpoint on what Barcelona means to them. It is a way of life, a Catalan philosophy that differs from the rest of Spain and that is the mirror image of Barcelona’s arch rivals Real Madrid style. Barca are Luke Skywalker to Real Madrid’s Darth Vader, if you will.