I had to post this because it sounds like the old Legends versus the rest argument that we know and love so well! You’ll see that the “Barney” in this argument sees things from the opposite point of view.
PS: Here’s the link if you’d like to see all the opinions: Guardian page about Barca
By Barney Ronay
The Guardian, Saturday 22 May 2010Why are Barcelona so annoying?
Mainly it is the manner in which they paint themselves as 'més que un club'. Yeovil Town are more than a club. Get over it
This week two of the most bizarrely bloodless major transfers you could hope to see were decisively entrained. Amid scenes of absolutely no acrimony whatsoever, David Villa (already gone) and Cesc Fábregas (off soon) both pledged themselves to Barcelona, leaving Valencia and Arsenal looking a little bit like a man whose girlfriend has just been pinched by some entirely charming and handsome beret-sporting poseur who also manages to do a really good job of assuring them they should be feeling terribly flattered by all the attention. Barcelona are good at this. The most widely fawned-over of all clubs, theirs is a peculiar kind of velvet-glove imperialism. It is time someone took a stand on this. Mainly by breaking the omertà and pointing out that Barcelona are by some distance the world's most annoying football club.
Mainly it's to do with that sense of swooning self-love; not so much the idea but the manner in which they paint themselves as "més que un club". The fact is all football clubs are "more than a club". Yeovil Town are more than a club. Get over it.
Even more annoying, but related, is Barcelona's unshakeable conviction that they are intrinsically good. We are the ewoks here, they shriek. We are the Dukes of Hazard. Never mind that as a regional powerhouse they have such economic might they can even self righteously abjure shirt sponsorship (the Bono-style Unicef endorsement is also annoying. You keep thinking: just get Carlsberg on the phone and buy a proper centre-forward). No other football club anywhere insists with such needy, weepy fervour that you love it. This is cloying and I refuse to swoon.
Then there is Barcelona's cultural imperialism, a more subtle form of consumer home invasion than a shirt flogging friendly in China, whereby Barcelona instead style themselves as an elite product: the kind of brand adopted by people who feel they are above adopting brands. Barcelona are an iPod team, a vintage Japanese denim team; something undeniably good but also somehow tarnished by an accumulation of gloating approval. Naturally, with this in mind, it is easy to feel irritated by the manager Pep Guardiola, who is clearly bright and even nice but spoils this by looking like a swanky graphic designer, someone who might own a coffee table made out of barbed wire.
Above all I dislike their non contact tippy-tappy style of play, often deemed, like Barcelona themselves, to be intrinsically "good". I have a theory the popularity of this style owes a lot to the fact that it looks good on TV: a televisual style, suited to the armchair rhythms of possession-foul-replay-pundit-blather. It is so obviously and demonstrably high end. Oh look – a backheel! A dinky one-two! This is good football even if you don't really know that much about football, accessibly high spec like a £40 bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.
But perhaps the most annoying thing is that so many players now feel bound to emote that it is "their dream" to play for them. It makes you wonder why Barcelona don't just franchise themselves in every country, a global Barcelona brand that might finally turn the world an annihilating shade of Barcelona; and where they can all play each other endlessly, untouchably good and pure. While the rest of us, Fábregas-less, are left to get on with our everyday bad football with its scruffiness and spikiness and enduring imperfections.A response from the same page by “Bobeto”
You've been saving that one for a while haven't you Barney? It's a fairly subjective argument, so allow me to be fairly subjective in my response.
I'll preface this by saying that while I admire Barca, I'm not a die-hard fan. So while I disagree almost entirely with what you're saying, I'm not doing so from partisan one-eyedness. That's not a word is it? Basically I'm not writing this through the peculiar specs of Jimmy Burns
"Barcelona instead style themselves as an elite product: the kind of brand adopted by people who feel they are above adopting brands. Barcelona are an iPod team, a vintage Japanese denim team; something undeniably good but also somehow tarnished by an accumulation of gloating approval"
Just because everyone else likes them doesn't mean you shouldn't. I admit here that saying this makes me a something of a hypocrite: there are players I really like like Sinisa Mihajlovic almost entirely because everyone else was going on about how he was the devil incarnate and forgetting that he was one of the best players in the world. I love Rensenbrink, despite being born a half a decade after he stopped playing, purely because he isn't Cruyff.
However in both instances this is me going against popular opinion in a positive way - they don't like him/he is ignored, so I will champion both. You're going against popular opinion in a negative way: everyone goes on about how great x is so I'll go against them.
When I watch sport I find myself generally supporting the underdog. Except on the few occasions where I believe that the favourite is doing something so amazing that I want the history books to reflect how incredible I believe they are. Sometimes I get my wish (I always support Federer and have been rewarded), sometimes I don't (Greece beat the Czechs, Liverpool beat Milan - two defeats that left me heartbroken because the underdog story paled into insignificance compared to the beauty of what the favourites were doing).
With Barca, I want them to be the first team to win back to back Champions League titles, because they are an astonishing team with brilliant players who play football that is beautiful beyond any football I've seen before. Speaking of which...
"Above all I dislike their non?contact tippy-tappy style of play, often deemed, like Barcelona themselves, to be intrinsically "good". I have a theory the popularity of this style owes a lot to the fact that it looks good on TV: a televisual style, suited to the armchair rhythms of possession-foul-replay-pundit-blather"
Isn't it often repeated that English style 100mph football is the best suited to TV hence the massive TV ratings around the World? Barca's style looks good on TV because it is aesthetically pleasing generally, regardless of where you watch them from, be it the Camp Nou or Shanghai.
I have a theory too - that this is a very English position to take. The single most annoying comment from the fallout of the Barca Inter 1-0 that I saw on these pages was about how "arrogant" Barca were in still passing the ball about the area with a minute to go. Because launching it into the box - which had been so successful up until then hadn't it? - is somehow the honourable, decent thing to do... There is an animosity to Barca here that I don't see anywhere else - although I'd happily be corrected on this point.
But nonetheless the fact that Barca's style is so alien to English football culture surely contributes to the animosity accorded to them. And while I accept that there is no 'right' way to play, surely the fact that Barca as a team have a philosophy that isn't limited to spending money (although obviously economics comes into it), and that that philosophy is an appealing one - youth system, aesthetically appealing football, supporter owned club - is admirable, even if it's not an inherently 'good thing'.
An analogy: I know the World Cup is now a brand. I accept that it's commercialised. I accept that the football in the Champions League and European Championships is of a higher standard. But it's still the World Cup, the biggest competition of any kind - only the Olympics and Nobel prizes are in the same post code as to what the World Cup means. So despite it's faults it still leaves me in awe of what it means, and I get more excited about the World Cup than anything else.
I know that Barca are commercialised. I know the Unicef thing is as much a look-down-the-nose sneer as much as a philanthropic gesture. I know Clive Tyldsley goes on about them almost as much as that night in their stadium. I know that they got knocked out by an Inter team that was better over the two legs. I know that people go on about how great they are even though they know sod all about football. But they're still the best team in the World. They still play football better than any team I've seen in my lifetime. They play football in a way I doubt I'll ever see again.
They should be celebrated.