A sideways look at Spanish football
Despite not appearing to enjoy one micro-second of his job – then again, no manager in la Liga seems to get any fun out of a season in Spain at all, aside from Joaquín Caparrós, and he isn’t right in the head, quite frankly – Pep Guardiola has stopped yet another soap opera in its tracks in the Catalan capital for a good six months by agreeing to renew his contract with his Dream Boys until the end of the 2011-2012 campaign.
LA LIGA LOCA, 9 Nov 2010: The only coach who loves La Liga life
Pep prefers to take things one year at a time in the Camp Nou, leading to an annual crop of headlines from the local sporting press predicting that “He’s going to sign!”, “He’s going to sign soon!” and “He’s going to sign! No really! Any second now! Just hang on one minute more! Please! Fine, up yours then!”
It was no different this season – hence the big saggy gasp of relief on Wednesday’s front covers of both Sport and Mundo Deportivo screaming “Renewed!” after the club announced that Guardiola was set to formally extend his contract later this week.
As well as Barça fans being happy bunnies, the club’s ‘B’ team coach Luis Enrique must also have been doing the dance of joy, considering the former culé would have been the probable manager at the Camp Nou should Pep have opted to spend the next few years in the Caribbean furiously rubbing Rogaine into his scalp.
CONFESSIONS OF A CORRESPONDENT, 4 Feb 2011: Ironman Enrique following in former team-mate Pep's footsteps
Sport's Josep María Casanovas is pleased as punch with the news, opining that “Guardiola is a distinct coach, even in the way he renews [his contract]. They offered him four years and he preferred one, a formula that works well and we have become accustomed to. I hope it is the same again next year.”
Atlético have also dropped into Wednesday’s headlines with the club’s two comedy owners Enrique Cerezo and Miguel Angel Gil up in the studios of radio station Cadena Ser to explain themselves, their conflicting statements to the press and the mess that the Rojiblancos find themselves in with the team nearer the relegation zone than the Champions League places.
After doing reasonably well attempting to convince listeners that they do in fact speak to each other and are not dysfunctional to the core of their DNA, the pompous pair showed that they held a very different point of view on the future of Quique Sánchez Flores.
Cerezo praised his coach, claiming that “over the past few years he’s the only manager to have brought two titles to the team.” Gil, on the other hand, managed to immediately contradict his partner by warning that it would be “very bad if we have to go without qualifying for Europe.”
In a sure sign that Atleti’s star player will next season don Real Madrid's No.10 shirt ( a shirt that Marca grumbles that it has been “devalued” over the years – hence the need to sign someone shiny and famous), Gil assured the listeners that Kun Agüero would not be moving up the hill to Mordor.
“Agüero is not going to Real Madrid, not this year nor next,” warned Miguel Angel, son of Jesús Gil. “The clause being paid won’t happen as the player doesn’t want to go and Atlético won’t let it happen.”
Despite the abundance of such tittle-tattle in the press, there's still a game taking place on Wednesday with Spain facing Colombia in a friendly clash in the Bernabeu. However, having all of the country’s big stars gathered together has merely given an excuse to the press to bombard the footballers with the current hot topics of who is better, Messi or Ronaldo, and whether Real Madrid can catch Barça.
One player who was probed throughly on a different topic was Fernando Torres, who went on Cadena Ser to explain his move from Liverpool to Chelsea which, according to LLL’s sources, has stirred up a bit of a controversy in that there England.
“My intention was to see out the campaign, to have a good year and do the best possible in this season of transition,”explained Torres. However, the departure of Javier Mascherano to Barcelona appears to have turned up the dial on the former Rojiblanco’s rage.
“I lost a bit of my desire and patience when seeing the level my Spain teammates at Real Madrid and Barcelona were at, winning titles. Days became longer and going to training when a large part of the season was spent near the bottom of the table made everything feel slow,” complained Torres, who said that the Chelsea train was the one that he had to ride.
However, LLL reckons that after Wednesday’s game, Torres will have even more explaining to do... as well as being asked about who the century’s new Di Stéfano is, of course.
Your blogs are always brilliant Tim , well done !! . Is Pep not being a coward by signing one year contracts at a time? Maybe he is afraid of having to be sacked ?
i don't think he's being a coward, kilotwatt. i'm pretty sure he's using the leverage the uncertainty his one year contracts bring to make sure all his transfer requests & crap like that are met. not a bad tactic when you're dealing w/sandrusco, a guy that sells players out from under your nose i.e. chygrynskiy.
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