Sunday, September 25, 2022

The Soccernostalgia Interview-Part 37- Interview with Italian Author and former Freelance Journalist Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota on Vittorio Pozzo’s era as Italy National Team Manager, 1931 /32 Season)

 

For this interview, I continue to look back at Vittorio Pozzo’s era as Italy National Team Manager, with the 1931/32 season.

This will be a semi-regular and continuous series.

The Interview in in English as well as Italian.

The Interviewee is:

Italian Author Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota

 

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota is a former freelance journalist in Biella (Italy), living in Odense (Denmark) from 2013, working as a Language teacher.

 

He is the author of “Danmark (1908-2018)” chronicling the history of the Danish National Team.

 

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s contact info:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/davide.rota.311

 

Link to his book:

https://www.soccer-books.co.uk/acatalog/Danmark-1908-2018-Landsholdets-Historie--Denmark-National-Team-Statistics--10493.html

 

 

Interview conducted in English and Italian:

 

Soccernostalgia Question: What were the state of the affairs of the National Team in the beginning of 1931/32 with Vittorio Pozzo at the helm?

 

Soccernostalgia Question (In Italian): Qual era lo stato delle cose della Nazionale all'inizio del 1931/32 con Vittorio Pozzo al timone?

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response: Italy was now a consecrated power of European football. After being the best European team at the 1928 Amsterdam Games and winning the 1930 International Cup, the Azzurri from Pozzo were called upon to confirm themselves. However, the season was characterized by some injuries, which prevented the coach from always fielding the best team. In any case, Italian football, above all thanks to the benefits resulting from the introduction of the single round, continued to provide players of excellent level, in all roles. A great weight was played by the increasing number of "natives", or players born or raised in South America by families of Italian emigrants and returned to their homeland.

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response (In Italian): L´Italia era ormai una potenza consacrata del calcio europeo. Dopo essere stata la miglior squadra europea ai Giochi di Amsterdam del 1928 e aver vinto la Coppa Internazionale 1930, gli azzurri di Pozzo erano chiamati a confermarsi. La stagione sarebbe stata pero´ caratterizzata da alcuni infortuni, che impedirono al ct di schierare sempre la squadra migliore. In ogni caso, il calcio italiano, soprattutto grazie ai benefici conseguenti all´introduzione del girone unico, continuava a fornire giocatori di ottimo livello, in tutti i ruoli. Un gran peso lo ebbero i sempre più´ numerosi “oriundi”, ovvero giocatori nati o cresciuti in Sudamerica da famiglie di emigranti italiani e rientrati in patria. 

 

Soccernostalgia Question: The first match of the 1931/32 season for the National team was a Dr. Gerö Cup match vs. Czechoslovakia at Roma on November 15th, 1931. Italy seemed headed for a win before Czechoslovakia tied the score (2-2) near the end. How was a tied match at regarded by critics?

Soccernostalgia Question (In Italian): La prima partita della stagione 1931/32 per la Nazionale fu una partita di Dr. Gerö Cup contro la Cecoslovacchia a Roma il 15 novembre 1931. L'Italia sembrava diretta alla vittoria prima che la Cecoslovacchia pareggiasse (2-2) verso la fine . Come è stata considerata dalla critica una partita in parità?

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response: The criticism was quite satisfied, considering the value of the opponents, who fielded authentic champions such as the goalkeeper Planicka and the star Svoboda, as well as the other forward Nejedly. Despite the draw, Italy still dominated their opponents in terms of both play and goal chances. Pozzo himself, who wrote in La Stampa, spoke of unfortunate situations regarding the actions of the two Svoboda goals.

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response (In Italian): La critica fu abbastanza soddisfatta, considerando il valore degli avversari, che schieravano autentici fuoriclasse come il portiere Planicka e la stella Svoboda, oltre all´altro attaccante Nejedly. L´Italia, nonostante il pareggio, aveva comunque dominato gli avversari sia sotto il profilo del gioco che quello delle occasioni da rete. Pozzo stesso, che scriveva su La Stampa, parlo´ di situazioni sfortunate sulle azioni delle due reti di Svoboda.

 

Soccernostalgia Question: Italy’s next match was once again part of the Dr. Gerö Cup. On December 13th, Italy faced Hungary at Torino. Italy won the match (3-2) with Cesarini scoring in the dying seconds. This gave birth to the expression of ‘Zona Cesarini’. Julio Libonatti also scored in his final match for Italy. What can you say about this match?

Soccernostalgia Question (In Italian): La prossima partita dell'Italia è stata ancora una volta parte della Dr. Gerö Cup. Il 13 dicembre l'Italia ha affrontato l'Ungheria a Torino. L'Italia ha vinto la partita (3-2) con Cesarini che ha segnato negli ultimi secondi. Nasce così l'espressione di "Zona Cesarini". Julio Libonatti ha segnato anche nella sua ultima partita con l'Italia. Cosa puoi dire di questa partita?

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response: It was a lively match from the competitive point of view, with many fouls and daring situations. Italy played well in the first half, but not in the second half. Many criticized the use of Ferraris in the median and in his place they would have wanted the more technical Bernardini, but the facts, three years later, proved Pozzo right. Cesarini scored by pushing away two teammates (Costantino and Libonatti) and someone said that his action, according to the regulations, would have been a foul. But the referee validated the goal anyway, which went down in history, even though Cesarini himself had already scored in the final match in some championship matches.

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response (In Italian): Fu una partita vivace dal punto di vista dell´agonismo, con molti falli e situazioni rocambolesche. L´Italia gioco´ bene nel primo tempo, ma non nella ripresa. Molti criticarono l´impiego di Ferraris in mediana e al suo posti avrebbero voluto il più tecnico Bernardini, ma i fatti, tre anni dopo, diedero ragione a Pozzo. Cesarini segno´ spingendo via due compagni di squadra (Costantino e Libonatti) e qualcuno disse che la sua, secondo il regolamento, sarebbe stata un´azione fallosa. Ma l´arbitro convalido´ ugualmente la rete, che passo´ alla storia, anche se Cesarini stesso aveva gia´ segnato nel finale di gara in alcune gare di campionato.


Photo From: Azzurri, Storia della Nazionale di calcio tre volte campioni del Mondo, 1910-1983

(Renato Cesarini goal, December 13, 1931, Dr. Gerö Cup, Italy 2-Hungary 2)



Photo From:  Calcio 2000, Issue 10, July 1998

(Final cap for Julio Libonatti)



Photo From:  Calcio 2000, Issue 10, July 1998

(International debutant  Ezio Sclavi)



Soccernostalgia Question: The next match was another Dr. Gerö Cup match vs. Switzerland at Naples on February 14th, 1932. Italy won comfortably (3-0) with Francesco Fedullo scoring a hat trick in his debut. Pozzo selected Napoli’s Colombari, Vojak and Sallustro. Did he just select these players to satisfy the crowd or did he believe in them?

Soccernostalgia Question (In Italian): La partita successiva fu un'altra partita di Coppa del Dr. Gerö contro la Svizzera a Napoli il 14 febbraio 1932. L'Italia vinse comodamente (3-0) con una tripletta di Francesco Fedullo all'esordio. Pozzo ha scelto Colombari, Vojak e Sallustro del Napoli. Ha selezionato questi giocatori solo per soddisfare il pubblico o ci credeva?

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response: No, it was only because there were many absent due to illness or injury. However, the substitutes did well, even if some mistakes in attack by the Swiss must be considered, which also presented a weak formation, without full-back Weller and the midfielder Fatton.

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response (In Italian): No, era soltanto perche´ c´ erano molti assenti per malattia o infortunio. I sostituti fecero comunque bene, anche se vanno considerati alcuni errori in attacco degli svizzeri, che peraltro presentavano una formazione debole, senza il terzino Weller e il mediano Fatton.

 

Photo From:  Calcio 2000, Issue 10, July 1998

(International debutant  Francesco Fedullo)



Photo From:  Calcio 2000, Issue 10, July 1998

(International debutant Antonio Vojak)


Soccernostalgia Question: In this match vs. Switzerland, Many regulars such as Combi, Bertolini, Ferrari and Meazza were missing. Were they injured or did Pozzo want to experiment?

Soccernostalgia Question (In Italian): In questa partita contro la Svizzera sono mancati molti habitué come Combi, Bertolini, Ferrari e Meazza. Si sono infortunati o Pozzo ha voluto sperimentare?

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response: No, he was forced by the absences of the various Combi, Caligaris, Pitto, Costantino, Meazza, Cesarini and Ferrari. They were injured or suffering from the flu.

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response (In Italian): No, fu costretto dalle assenze dei vari Combi, Caligaris, Pitto, Costantino, Meazza, Cesarini e Ferrari. Erano infortunati o colpiti da influenza.

 

Soccernostalgia Question: Pozzo handed an International debut to Brazilian Oriundi, Anfilogino “Filho” Guarisi. He would be part of the 1934 World Cup squad. What can you say about his selection

Soccernostalgia Question (In Italian): Pozzo ha debuttato in nazionale al brasiliano Oriundi, Anfilogino “Filho” Guarisi. Farà parte della rosa dei Mondiali del 1934. Cosa puoi dire della sua selezione?

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response: He was one of the fittest players in that position (right winger) but later on, making only 5 more appearances, never in high-level games. The owner, for Pozzo, was Enrique Guaita.

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response (In Italian): Era uno dei giocatori più in forma in quel ruolo (ala destra) ma in seguito raccogliere´ solo altre 5 presenze, mai in partite di alto livello. Il titolare, per Pozzo, era Enrique Guaita. 

 

Photo From: Гольдес И.- История чемпионатов мира 1930-1962+

(International debutant Anfilogino “Filho” Guarisi)



Soccernostalgia Question: The next match was the most important Dr. Gerö Cup match of the season. Italy faced Hugo Meisl’s Austrian ‘Wunderteam’ at its height at Vienna on March 20th, 1932. Italy lost (2-1) with Matthias Sindelar scoring twice for the Austrians. Surely, this Austrian team would have been the benchmark for Italy at this point. How was this close loss regarded at the time?

Soccernostalgia Question (In Italian): La partita successiva è stata la partita della Dr. Gerö Cup più importante della stagione. L'Italia ha affrontato il "Wunderteam" austriaco di Hugo Meisl al suo apice a Vienna il 20 marzo 1932. L'Italia ha perso (2-1) con Matthias Sindelar che ha segnato due gol per gli austriaci. Sicuramente questa squadra austriaca sarebbe stata il punto di riferimento per l'Italia a questo punto. Come è stata considerata questa perdita ravvicinata all'epoca?

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response: A little unavoidable. Pozzo, having finally beaten the Austrians in Italy, knew well that it would be very difficult to overtake them in Vienna. It would take some more time. It is no coincidence that these two national teams played the semifinal at the 1934 World Cup, which many considered the "real" final between the two strongest teams at that time. Furthermore, Caligaris, Cesarini and Ferrari were still missing. The blues played as a throw-in, aiming for 0-0, but were punished by the class of the great Sindelar.

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response (In Italian): Un po´ inevitabile. Pozzo, dopo aver finalmente battuto gli austriaci in Italia, sapeva bene che sarebbe stato molto difficile superarli a Vienna. Ci sarebbe voluto ancora del tempo. Non a caso queste due nazionali giocarono la semifinale ai Mondiali del 1934, che molti considerarono la “vera” finale tra le due squadre più forti in quel periodo. Inoltre mancavano ancora Caligaris, Cesarini e Ferrari. Gli azzurri giocarono di rimessa, puntando allo 0-0, ma furono puniti dalla classe del grande Sindelar.

 

Photo From:  Calcio 2000, Issue 10, July 1998

(International debutant  Raffaele Sansone)


Soccernostalgia Question: Italy traveled to Paris to face France in its only friendly match of the season on April 10th, 1932. Italy won (2-1) in a match that Angelo Schiavio made his only appearance of the season. Why was he not called up regularly this season?

Soccernostalgia Question (In Italian): L'Italia si recò a Parigi per affrontare la Francia nella sua unica amichevole della stagione il 10 aprile 1932. L'Italia vinse (2-1) in una partita che Angelo Schiavio fece la sua unica apparizione della stagione. Perché non è stato convocato regolarmente in questa stagione?

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response: Schiavio hadn't played in the national team since 1929, three years away, despite being one of the most prolific strikers in the league and just 26 years old. Sometimes he was called to the selections, but he declined Pozzo's invitations because 'he knew that the coach preferred Meazza in the role of center forward, but over time Pozzo would find the right formula, placing Schiavio in the middle and Meazza as a mezzala. However, it seems that there were also some problems with Luisito Monti: the two were enemies and did not speak to each other after problems in the league matches between Juventus and Bologna. Pozzo made them make peace.

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response (In Italian): Schiavio non giocava in Nazionale dal 1929, tre anni di assenza, nonostante fosse uno degli attaccanti più´ prolifici del campionato e avesse appena 26 anni. Qualche volta veniva chiamato alle selezioni, ma declinava gli inviti di Pozzo perché´ sapeva che il ct gli preferiva Meazza nel ruolo di centravanti, ma col tempo Pozzo avrebbe trovato la formula giusta, schierando Schiavio in mezzo e Meazza come mezzala. Pare pero´ che ci fossero anche alcuni problemi con Luisito Monti: i due erano nemici e non si parlavano dopo problemi avuti in gare di campionato tra Juventus e Bologna. Pozzo li fece riappacificare.


Photo From: La Nazionale Italiana, 1978

(April 10, 1932, France 1-Italy 2)



Soccernostalgia Question: This season ended with another Dr. Gerö Cup match as Italy traveled to Budapest to face Hungary on May 8th, 1932. The match ended as (1-1) tie. How was this result regarded?

Soccernostalgia Question (In Italian): Questa stagione si è conclusa con un'altra partita della Dr. Gerö Cup quando l'Italia si è recata a Budapest per affrontare l'Ungheria l'8 maggio 1932. La partita si è conclusa con un pareggio (1-1). Come è stato considerato questo risultato?

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response: Well, despite the adversity of the environment and the terrain of Budapest. Still without Ferrari and Caligaris, the Azzurri played a good match, but protested against the Danish referee Sophus Hansen, for some controversial decisions. Combi scored a penalty Costantino, author of the initial goal, together with the returning Meazza, was the best of the Azzurri, who at the end of the match were forced to flee to the locker room after the invasion of the field by the Hungarian public.

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response (In Italian): Bene, nonostante le avversita´ dell´ambiente e del terreno di Budapest. Sempre senza Ferrari e Caligaris, gli azzurri giocarono una gara di buon livello, ma protestarono contro l´arbitro danese Sophus Hansen, per alcune decisioni controverse. Combi paro´ un calcio di rigore Costantino, autore della rete iniziale azzurra, insieme al rientrante Meazza, fu il migliore degli azzurri, che a fine gara furono costretti a fuggire negli spogliatoi dopo l´invasione di campo del pubblico ungherese.

 

Soccernostalgia Question: In this match vs. Hungary, Mario Magnozzi played for the last time for Italy. What can you say about his International career?

Soccernostalgia Question (In Italian): In questa partita contro l'Ungheria, Mario Magnozzi ha giocato per l'ultima volta per l'Italia. Cosa puoi dire della sua carriera internazionale?

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response: Magnozzi was one of the greatest strikers of that period. He was among the first mezzalos to do a job of defensive cover, shuttling between midfield and attack. In his best period, when he was at Livorno, he was a bit closed in blue by the turned Rossetti and in 1932, now at Milan and on the way to finish his career, he was sacrificed to make way for Schiavio, with Meazza and Ferrari mezzali.

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response (In Italian):  Magnozzi e´ stato uno dei più grandi attaccanti di quel periodo. Fu tra le prime mezzali a fare un lavoro di copertura difensiva, facendo da spola tra centrocampo e attacco. Nel suo periodo migliore, quando era al Livorno, fu un po´ chiuso in azzurro dal tornita Rossetti e nel 1932, ormai al Milan e avviato a finire la carriera, fu sacrificato per far posto a Schiavio, con Meazza e Ferrari mezzali.

 

Photo From:  Calcio 2000, Issue 10, July 1998

(Final cap for Mario Magnozzi)


 

Soccernostalgia Question: This season, Pozzo maintained his confidence in Combi, Rosetta, Attilio Ferraris IV and Eraldo Monzeglio. Umberto Caligaris was absent for this season. The 1934 defense is complete in Pozzo’s mind?

Soccernostalgia Question (In Italian): In questa stagione Pozzo ha mantenuto la fiducia in Combi, Rosetta, Attilio Ferraris IV ed Eraldo Monzeglio. Umberto Caligaris era assente per questa stagione. La difesa del 1934 è completa nella mente di Pozzo?

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response: Caligaris would recover in 1932-33. The others were untouchable and Ferraris IV often met with criticism, but in fact, yes, the defense, completed by Bertolini, would have been the same as in 1934 he would have won the world title in Rome. In reality, for the role of goalkeeper, Pozzo was thinking of fielding Ceresoli but, as we will see, in 1934, the latter´s injury forced him´ to brush up on the "old" Combi.

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response (In Italian): Caligaris si sarebbe ripreso nel 1932-33. Gli altri erano intoccabili e Ferraris IV spesso andava incontro a critiche, ma in effetti, si, la difesa, completata da Bertolini, sarebbe stata la stessa che nel 1934 avrebbe vinto il titolo mondiale a Roma. In realtà, per il ruolo di portiere, Pozzo pensava di schierare Ceresoli ma, come vedremo, nel 1934, l´infortunio di questo´ultimo, lo obbligo´ a rispolverare il “vecchio” Combi.


Soccernostalgia Question: Pozzo continued to select Luigi Bertolini and Meazza, Orsi and Ferrari upfront. The 1934 squad was nearly complete at this point?

Soccernostalgia Question (In Italian): Pozzo ha continuato a selezionare in anticipo Luigi Bertolini e Meazza, Orsi e Ferrari. La squadra del 1934 era quasi completa a questo punto?

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response: Yes, and it was one of the strongest blue teams of all time, complete in all departments. The block was that of Juventus, which won 5 championships between 1931 and 1935. In addition to their class, the Juventus players formed a solid and close-knit group.

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response (In Italian):  Si, ed era una delle più´ forti formazioni azzurre di tutti i tempi, completa in tutti i reparti. Il blocco era quello della Juventus, che vinse 5 campionati fra il 1931 e il 1935. Oltre alla loro classe, gli juventini formavano un gruppo solido e affiatato.

 

Soccernostalgia Question: In closing, what is your analysis of this season 1931-32 for the National Team?

Soccernostalgia Question (In Italian): In conclusione, qual è la tua analisi di questa stagione 1931-32 per la Nazionale?

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response: Not a brilliant season but still with only one defeat in 6 games. Many absences to undermine continuity, but in any case an Italian national team always among the best 4-5 in the world. A good business card approaching the World Cup, which would soon be assigned to Italy.

Mr. Davide Eskelund Rota’s response (In Italian): Stagione non brillantissima ma comunque con una sola sconfitta in 6 gare. Tante assenze a minare la continuità´ma comunque una nazionale azzurra sempre tra le migliori 4-5 al mondo. Un buon biglietto da visita in avvicinamento al Mondiale, che presto sarebbe stato assegnato proprio all´Italia.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Soccer Memories-Part 44 (The New Annoying Trends of Modern Football (Soccer))

 In the recent years it feels like I am becoming an old man, as I look with disdain to the changes on and off the field regarding the game.

Nostalgia is always strong for fans of my age and there is always a tendency from every generation to look at the past in rose-tinted glasses.

I can look through my old magazines from 70s and 80s and there is a common thread in fans and even players of past generation looking back at the good old times.

A common complaint is usually about commercialization ruining the game.

If only these players (if still living) could see the changes of these last years.

 

As for myself, I do not exactly remember the reference point where I started noticing changes that disturbed me.

For my own amusement, I have tried to make a list. These could be major changes or even minor banal things that somehow rub me the wrong way.

 

Free Kicks with one player laying down horizontally

If you have seen any matches in the last few years, you have surely noticed this new trend on free kicks. Behind the wall, one of the players lays down across horizontally, to prevent any ground level shots, when the players in the wall automatically jump up.

This is a minor thing, but somehow it looks strange to someone used to the Football of a different era.

 

Photo From: https://news.paddypower.com/football-news/2021/05/14/taking-it-lying-down-how-to-find-the-perfect-player-behind-the-wall/

Players interrupting a winning Manager’s press conference

A new trend from these last years, the tournament winning Manager is giving his press conference and his players barge in and interrupt the press conference and pour champagne on him, etc. I don’t remember when or how this started, but I definitely do not remember such a trend in the past.






Initiation of new players

An initiation ceremony for new signings is that they have to sing a song in front of all the teammates. Maybe this tradition has always existed, I am not sure. However, filming this initiation and releasing on social media is definitly new.




Ruining of the Ballon d’Or

France Football magazine’s Ballon d’Or used to be the pinnacle for individual awards for a player. The winner would be announced the day of the magazine’s release. One of the appealing aspects of the voting was some of the odd selections by certain jurors, which always made it interesting.

This was changed when it was decided in the 90s to have a chosen selection of 50 players that the jurors could only vote for.

The award ceremony become a gala event akin to the Academy Awards and now there are additional awards associated with it: The Young player, Yashin,Award, etc.

Photo From: France Football, Issue 3837, December 3, 2019



Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo debate

One of the many ridiculous debates of the Social Media age is the comparison between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Eager fans of each camp, young or old, will post the merits of one and denigrate the ‘shortcomings’ of the other. The truth is that we should be lucky that there are two players of exceptional quality who have marked their Generation.

Most of us lived in the age of Maradona and I barely recall comparisons of Maradona with other contemporaries in such a manner.

 

Devaluation of Magazines

I am from the generation that grew up with Football magazines. One of the greatest joys as a fan was rushing to newsstands in anticipation of the new issue of your Football magazine. This is an excitement that younger fans will never understand. At times, these magazines were the greatest source of knowledge and information. The internet changed this in the 90s and with the evolution of this medium and social media, magazines became secondary and not as influential as before. Nowadays, most people get their magazines on PDF and that’s not the same thing.

 

Photo From: https://www.facebook.com/Soccerretromag



The Expansion of UCL

I grew up in an era when European Cups were in knock-out format. There was such excitement with the Champions Cup, the Cup Winners Cup and the UEFA Cup.

Because of Economic reasons, the Champions Cup evolved into a Champions League. It grew to such an extent that the Cup Winners Cup was disbanded in 1999 and the UEFA Cup became a meaningless Tournament.

Personally, I felt something was not right during the 1999/00 season. This was the first season of the expanded Champions League with two Group phases and for the first time I felt too many matches were being played and it was getting difficult to follow and keep up like the old days. Alas, it seems like a Super League is on the horizon.

 

The Ruining of International Football

International Football was a favorite part of the game. We looked for anticipation for lineups, looking for new caps, etc. Friendly matches used to be exciting and fun to watch as much as qualifiers. Back then, you maybe had one match per month or so.

The expansion of the UCL took the shine of International Football. In addition, the increase in number of matches that Nations have to play has made it less interesting. Nowadays, some fans look upon with disdain to ‘International Breaks’, where Nations play up to three-four matches in the space of ten days or so, and look forward to the resumption of League play.

In addition, the creation of meaningless Tournaments like the ‘Nations League’ has further increased the slow death of International Football.

 

The Ruining of the Euros

The UEFA European Championships were once upon a time a quality Tournament only second in importance to the Word Cup. When the number of participants was increased to 16 for the 1996 Edition, it seemed like a fair balance. However, for the 2016 Edition, the number of participants was increased to 24 teams with predictable drop in quality. The 2020 Edition (played in 2021) was even more chaotic with venues spread across the continent and no actual host.

 

Team Group Photo in the Dressing Room

This new trend of a Group Team Photo in the Changing Room released in Social Media after an important win. This is a trend that is representative of the Social Media age, somehow you can’t imagine teams doing this in the good old days.

 

Photo From: https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/row-zed/cristiano-ronaldo-dressing-room-photo-10324269



The Walk of Honor

I could be wrong about this one, but from what I remember, the Walk of Honor, was a tradition in Spain, whereby the opposing Team would lineup and applaud the League Champions as they entered the field. It was a sign of respect and Fair Play. Nowadays, it seems everyone from the kit man on is given a walk of honor in various Nations. I repeat this is a topic I might be wrong about, but I have noticed this trend more and more in the last few years. (Please, no insults if am wrong, just correct me)

 

Children mascot holding hands with players and players high-fiving before matches

I grew up in an era where the two teams would enter the field and the captains would shake hands at the beginning. Then after the match was over, the players would exchange kits, etc.

I cannot pinpoint when this trend started but I think it was in the 90s. You have the two teams coming on the field with each player holding hands with a child mascot. Then like in a high school game you have the players in a row high-five and embrace one another before the match. It’s just a cheesy ploy from ‘the suits’ to show they believe in Fairplay, etc. Of course, five seconds later the same players are kicking the lumps out of one another.

 

Teams having a multitude of kits

Until the mid-90s, teams used to have a home kit and an away kit. I would say for up to 70-80% of their matches (please don’t hold me to this percentage), teams would wear their home kit and only in rare cases, the away kit would be worn. For example, a team like Juventus would have worn their away kit, for perhaps a handful of matches in a season. Naturally, all this changed when replica kits became a big business and teams started having three or more kits per season. In some cases, special kits were worn specially for a particular competition. To justify the existence of these kits, teams started wearing their away and special kits on more and more occasions. Needless to say, to maximize profits from sales, the designs had to change, in some cases, from season to season.

Photo From: World Soccer, April 1994



Over-exposure of Friendly pre-season matches

For most of my time as a Football fan, pre-season friendlies were meaningless matches not taken seriously.  In fact, I don’t even remember if they were covered in print, much less television (exceptions for Unicef charity matches, prestige friendlies, etc).

However, we now live in age where clubs’ Pre-season Tours in USA are dissected by analysts and covered as important events. This is bearing in mind, that the transfer ends by the end of August and many of the players will have moved on from their clubs anyway.

 

VAR

VAR was introduced to correct refereeing errors for the good of the game. Its use has been controversial and has only increased complaints from the public. In some ways, refereeing errors were considered as part of the game and were rare. These errors were sometimes discussion points about the history of the game. Irrespective of its intentions, its disastrous application has made the public reminisce of the pre-VAR days.


Johnny-Come-Lately Football (Soccer) fans

Football (Soccer) is a game that gets in your blood when you’re young. Therefore, most real fans of the game have a disdain for people who magically become Football fans as adults just because the game has become trendy now. Globally, most of these fans ‘become’ massive English Premier League fans (due to its marketing strength) with no knowledge of the history of the game and the clubs.





Hollywood Stars ‘liking’ Soccer

Similar to the complaint above, nothing angers real fans of the game more than watching celebrities jump on the bandwagon and start liking the game, etc. It’s even more annoying when you see Hollywood celebrities who never grew up with the game and have no concept of its history, suddenly, become fans and start wearing the kits and will even go to matches (when on promotional tours in Europe).

 

Conclusion

I am sure if I think hard enough, I can come up with other examples as well. Some of these examples are minor and really meaningless in the grand scheme of things. They are the result of Social Media trends and will probably run their course.

As a long-term fan I always look to the Football of the past with fondness. One has to accept that there is always an evolution to the game. I imagine, someone else in thirty years will look with Nostalgia with the examples that I cited.

 





Sunday, September 18, 2022

The Soccernostalgia Interview-Part 36 (Interview with Spanish Journalist Mr. Albert Valor on Barcelona, 1985/86 season)

For this interview, I continue to look back at past Barcelona seasons and ask the opinions of knowledgeable Barcelona observers.

This will be a semi-regular and continuous series.

This interview is about Barcelona’s 1985/86 season.

The Interviewees is:

 

1- Spanish Journalist Mr. Albert Valor @PLF_2008

 

Mr. Valor’s contact info:

On Twitter: @PLF_2008

 

  

Soccernostalgia Question: Let’s start off by describing the state of the affairs. At the start of the 1985/86 season. Barcelona had finally won the League title for the first time since 1974. Barcelona’s English Manager Terry Venables was popular for the triumph and there was a backbone of a team for the next few years. What were the expectations of the fans and the press going into the season?

Soccernostalgia Pregunta: Comencemos describiendo el estado de las cosas. Al comienzo de la temporada 1985/86. Barcelona finalmente había ganado el título de la Liga por primera vez desde 1974. El entrenador inglés de Barcelona, Terry Venables, era popular por el triunfo y había una columna vertebral de un equipo para los próximos años. ¿Cuáles eran las expectativas de los fanáticos y la prensa al comenzar la temporada?


Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: I'm going to start by saying that I didn't live through that time, since I was born in the summer of 1986. From what I've been able to learn through consumption and documentation about Barcelona throughout my life, winning that league greatly increased the expectation of the hobby. As you say in the question, the 1974 League and that of Venables were the only leagues of the club in 30 years, something that would be unthinkable today. The Barcelona player had a much lower level of demand than today, but after feeling champion, the expectation for the following year was high. At the very least, they wanted to repeat the national success and, why not, win the European Cup.

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: Voy a empezar diciendo que no viví aquella época, puesto que nací en verano de 1986. Por lo que he podido saber a lo largo de consumo y documentación sobre el Barcelona a lo largo de mi vida, ganar aquella liga aumentó mucho la expectativa de la afición. Como bien dices en la pregunta, la Liga de 1974 y aquella de Venables fueron las únicas ligas del club en 30 años, algo que en la actualidad sería impensable. El barcelonista tenía un nivel de exigencia mucho más bajo que hoy, pero tras sentirse campeón, la expectativa para el año siguiente era alta. Como mínimo, se quería repetir el éxito nacional y, por qué no, ganar la Copa de Europa.


Photo From: Mondial, new series, issue 68, November 1985

(Barcelona squad, 1985/86)



Soccernostalgia Question: Let’s look at the transfer activity in the off-season. Paraguay-born striker Raul Amarilla joined from Real Zaragoza and Angel Pedraza and Esteban Fradera were promoted to the first team. The departures included Periko Alonso (Sabadell) and Salva (loaned to Hercules). How did the public and press view the transfer activity? One would assume Venables was satisfied with the squad at hand?

Soccernostalgia Pregunta: Veamos la actividad de fichajes fuera de temporada. El delantero paraguayo Raúl Amarilla se incorporó procedente del Real Zaragoza y Ángel Pedraza y Esteban Fradera ascendieron al primer equipo. Las salidas incluyeron a Periko Alonso (Sabadell) y Salva (cedido al Hércules). ¿Cómo vieron el público y la prensa la actividad de transferencia? ¿Uno supondría que Venables estaba satisfecho con el equipo en cuestión?

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: I understand that the coach's objective was to maintain the block that had won the League so comfortably. The template had worked well, so Venables thought a couple of tweaks were good. There were no big signings, but let's remember that the fan had recent memory of Maradona passing through the club, a great signing that did not win any important title.

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: Entiendo que el objetivo del entrenador era mantener el bloque que había ganado la Liga con tanta holgura. La plantilla había dado buenos resultados, por lo cual a Venables le parecieron buenos un par de retoques. No hubo grandes fichajes, pero recordemos que el aficionado tenía reciente en la memoria el paso de Maradona por el club, un gran fichaje que no logró ningún título importante.

 

Photo From: Mondial, new series, issue 68, November 1985

(Terry Venables and President Nunez)



Soccernostalgia Question: Barcelona started off the season in a poor fashion and were off the pace in the early going. Why do you team the team that had won the title was struggling?

Soccernostalgia Pregunta: Barcelona comenzó la temporada de mala manera y estuvo fuera de ritmo al principio. ¿Por qué el equipo que había ganado el título estaba luchando?

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: Here several factors were mixed. The first, that after winning the championship, the team fell into a certain complacency, and the level of demand was not the same (a fact that must be blamed more on the players than on the coaching staff, in my opinion. That meant that, inevitably, the team will focus on the European Cup and leave aside the League After overcoming two qualifiers against Sparta Prague and Porto (in both won in the first leg and lost in the second leg, going through the double value of the goals in opposite field), the team saw itself in the quarterfinals. From then on, the objective was the European Cup, a title that the club had never won. In addition, in the League they also had to count on Real Madrid: ‘El Quinta del Buitre’ began its reign.

 

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: Aquí se mezclaron varios factores. El primero, que tras ganar el campeonato, el equipo cayó en cierta complacencia, y el nivel de exigencia no fue el mismo (un hecho que hay que achacar más a los jugadores que al cuerpo técnico, en mi opinión. Eso hizo que, inevitablemente, el equipo se centrara en la Copa de Europa y dejara de lado de Liga. Tras superar dos eliminatorias frente a Sparta de Praga y Porto (en ambas ganado en la ida y perdiendo en la vuelta, pasando por el valor doble de los goles en campo contrario), el equipo se vio en cuartos de final. A partir de ahí, el objetivo fue la Copa de Europa, un título que el club nunca había ganado. Además, en Liga también había que contar con el Real Madrid: la Quinta del Buitre empezaba su reinado.

 

Soccernostalgia Question: In the Champions Cup, Barcelona advanced and even eliminated Portuguese side Porto. Why the contrast in League vs. European play?

Soccernostalgia Pregunta: En la Copa de Campeones, el Barcelona avanzó e incluso eliminó al Porto portugués. ¿Por qué el contraste en el juego de Liga vs. Europeo?

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: These situations have occurred on occasion. The European Cup has this. So, it was a shorter competition and one that, in turn, was more difficult to reach (only the champion of each country qualified). It was a forbidden dream, but when it came, you had to give everything. Barcelona was a level team and, furthermore, that title motivated them a lot. More than the League, which was soon out of reach due to the high level of points of the leader, Real Madrid.

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: Estas situaciones se han en ocasiones. La Copa de Europa tiene esto. Entonces, era una competición más corta y a la que, a su vez, era más difícil llegar (solo se clasificaba el campeón de cada país). Era un sueño prohibido, pero cuando se llegaba, había que darlo todo. El Barcelona era un equipo de nivel y, además, aquel título le motivaba mucho. Más que la Liga, de la que se vio pronto fuera de combate debido al alto nivel de puntuación del líder, el Real Madrid.

 

Soccernostalgia Question: By November, Barcelona recovered its form and were just behind Real Madrid. However, Barcelona could not close the gap and fell behind, despite consolidating the second place position. By December, the title seemed Real Madrid’s and in the end Barcelona finished 11 points behind. Were Real too good that season, or were Barcelona just concentrating in Europe?

Soccernostalgia Pregunta: Para noviembre, el Barcelona recuperó su forma y estaba justo detrás del Real Madrid. Sin embargo, el Barcelona no pudo cerrar la brecha y se quedó atrás, a pesar de consolidar la segunda posición. En diciembre, el título parecía del Real Madrid y al final el Barcelona acabó 11 puntos por detrás. ¿El Real Madrid fue demasiado bueno esa temporada o el Barcelona solo se concentró en Europa?

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: A mix of both. The ‘El Quinta del Buitre’ marked an era in Spanish football, winning five consecutive leagues between 1986 and 1990, something that has not been repeated (and that previously only Real Madrid had achieved between 1961 and 1965. Barça focused on Europe by inertia Seeing that the qualifying rounds were passing, it saw it as more feasible to be European champion than to fight against a team that was further and further away in the table.

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: Una mezcla de ambas cosas. La Quinta del Buitre marcó una época en el fútbol español, ganando cinco ligas consecutivas entre 1986 y 1990, algo que no se ha vuelto a repetir (y que anteriormente solo había logrado el mismo Real Madrid entre 1961 y 1965. El Barça se centró en Europa por inercia. Viendo que iba pasando eliminatorias, vio más factible ser campeón de Europa que luchar ante un equipo que estaba cada vez más lejos en la tabla.

 

Photo From: Onze, Issue 125, May 1986

(Barcelona squad, 1985/86)



Soccernostalgia Question: In the Champions Cup quarterfinals, Barcelona eliminated the defending Champions Juventus of Michel Platini. Was there a belief afterwards that they were on their win the Champions Cup after this?

Soccernostalgia Pregunta: En los cuartos de final de la Copa de Campeones, el Barcelona eliminó al campeón defensor Juventus de Michel Platini. ¿Hubo una creencia después de que estaban en su victoria en la Copa de Campeones después de esto?

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: Eliminating Juventus triggered the euphoria. At that time, Juventus was the best team in Europe. Current champion, it had in its ranks the Ballon d'Or, Michel Platini, the excellent Pole Boniek, a young Dane who would later dazzle in the World Cup in Mexico like Michael Laudrup, it was trained by a benchmark like Giovanni Trappatoni, it had level Italian players like Cabrini and Scirea… a great team, go. Leaving them on the road was the definitive signal for Barça to see paved the way to the first European Cup.

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: Eliminar a la Juventus disparó la euforia. En aquellos momentos, la Juventus era el mejor equipo de Europa. Vigente campeón, tenía en sus filas al Balón de Oro, Michel Platini, al excelso polaco Boniek, a un joven danés que luego deslumbraría en el Mundial de México como Michael Laudrup, la entrenaba un referente como Giovanni Trappatoni, tenía jugadores italianos de nivel y raza como Cabrini y Scirea… un equipazo, vaya. Dejarlos en el camino fue la señal definitiva para que el Barça viera allanado el camino hacia la primera Copa de Europa.

 

Photo From: Onze, Issue 124, April 1986

(March 5, 1986, Champions Cup, Barcelona 1-Juventus 0)



Photo From: Onze, Issue 124, April 1986

(March 19, 1986, Champions Cup, Juventus 1-Barcelona 1)



Soccernostalgia Question: The semifinals against Swedish side IFK Gothenburg are part of Barcelona’s folklore. Barcelona were behind (0-3) from the first leg, In the return leg, the relatively little-used Pichi Alonso scored a hat trick and the match went into overtime and penalty kick shoot-out and Barcelona were through. There is the image of a young ball-boy Josip Guardiola on the pitch celebrating. This must rank amongst the most memorable matches of Barcelona history because of the Drama?

Soccernostalgia Pregunta: Las semifinales ante el IFK Gotemburgo sueco son parte del folclore barcelonés. El Barcelona iba perdiendo (0-3) desde el partido de ida. En el partido de vuelta, el relativamente poco utilizado Pichi Alonso anotó un hat-trick y el partido se fue a la prórroga y a la tanda de penaltis y el Barcelona estaba clasificado. Hay la imagen de un joven recogepelotas Josip Guardiola en el campo celebrando. ¿Este debe figurar entre los partidos más memorables de la historia de Barcelona debido al Drama?

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: Definitely. The fans who were at the Camp Nou that day say that it is one of the most spectacular matches they have experienced at the Camp Nou on a European night, at the same level as the comeback in the Cup Winners' Cup against Anderlecht in 1978 (also coming back from 3- 0) or the most recent against PSG in 2017. The biggest difference is that that comeback against Göteborg led to a spot in the European Cup grand final. But yes, without a doubt, it is among the best European games in the history of the Camp Nou. It may be the most memorable.

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: Sin duda. Los aficionados que estuvieron aquel día en el Camp Nou dicen que es uno de los partidos más espectaculares que han vivido en el Camp Nou en una noche europea, al nivel de la remontada en la Recopa frente al Anderlecht en 1978 (también remontando un 3-0) o la más reciente ante el PSG en 2017. La mayor diferencia es que aquella remontada frente al Göteborg supuso el pase a la gran final de la Copa de Europa. Pero sí, sin duda, está entre los mejores partidos europeos de la historia del Camp Nou. Puede que sea el más memorable.

 

Photo From: Onze, Issue 125, May 1986

(April 16, 1986, Champions Cup, Barcelona 3-IFK Gothenburg 0)


Soccernostalgia Question: Barcelona would lose the Copa del Rey Final vs. Real Zaragoza in April. Was there disappointment or was everyone just thinking of the Champions Cup Final?

Soccernostalgia Pregunta: El Barcelona perdería la final de la Copa del Rey contra el Real Zaragoza en abril. ¿Hubo decepción o todo el mundo estaba pensando en la final de la Copa de Campeones?

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: As with the European Cup, Barça also focused on the Cup, a competition for which it is the club with the most titles historically. As with the continental competition, the team looked more likely to hoist a trophy as the qualifiers progressed. The Cup final was ten days after eliminating Göteborg and ten days before the European Cup final. It always hurts to lose a final, but at that time, the only thing that mattered to Barcelona was the final in Seville against Steaua.

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: Como con la Copa de Europa, el Barça también se centró en la Copa, una competición de la que es el club con más títulos históricamente. Del mismo modo que con la competición continental, el equipo se fue viendo con posibilidades de alzar un trofeo a medida que pasaban las eliminatorias. La final de Copa fue diez días después de eliminar al Göteborg y diez días antes de la final de Copa de Europa. Siempre duele perder una final, pero en aquel momento, al barcelonismo solo le importaba la final de Sevilla contra el Steaua.

 

Soccernostalgia Question: The final at Sevilla vs. Steaua Bucharest seemed promised to Barcelona. After the loss in a penalty kick shootout (with all the attempts missed), there was a feeling of a curse on Barcelona since Bern in 1961. How was this loss viewed by the Catalan press and do you think Barcelona took Steaua lightly?

Soccernostalgia Pregunta: La final del Sevilla vs. Steaua Bucarest parecía prometida al Barcelona. Tras la derrota en la tanda de penaltis (con todos los intentos fallados), el Barcelona se sentía como una maldición desde Berna en 1961. ¿Cómo fue vista esta derrota por la prensa catalana y crees que el Barcelona se tomó a la ligera al Steaua?

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: I don't know what it was like at the time, but today Steaua is spoken of as a sidekick, when at that time they were one of the best teams in Europe. The generation of Romanian players was very good. In addition, the Ceaucescu regime did everything on its part to make that team strong, since it served to project a good image of the country. After winning the final in Seville, Steaua reached the semi-finals in 1988 and the final again in 1989. So they weren't just any team. They did not have the name of Liverpool, Juventus or Bayern, and that made them more dangerous.

In addition, it is likely that yes, that after eliminating Juventus and coming back against Göteborg, Barcelona believed that the job was done. Also, the final was in Seville. It seemed everything was ready for Barça to pick up the cup, but…

Also, that disappointment, together with that of Bern 1961, made many young Barcelona fans believe that their team would never win the long-awaited European Cup.

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: No sé cómo sería en la época, pero en la actualidad se habla del Steaua como una comparsa, cuando en aquellos momentos era uno de los mejores equipos de Europa. La generación de jugadores rumanos era buenísima. Además, el régimen de Ceaucescu puso todo de su parte para que aquel equipo fuera fuerte, ya que servía para proyectar una buena imagen del país. Tras ganar la final de Sevilla, el Steaua llegó a semifinales en 1988 y de nuevo a la final en 1989. Así que no era un equipo cualquiera. No tenía el nombre del Liverpool, la Juventus o el Bayern, y eso le hacía más peligroso.

Además, es probable que sí, que tras eliminar a la Juventus y remontar contra el Göteborg, el Barcelona creyera que el trabajo ya estaba hecho. Además, la final era en Sevilla. Parecía todo preparado para que el Barça fuera a recoger la copa, pero…

Asimismo, esa decepción, unida a la de Berna 1961, hizo creer a muchos jóvenes aficionados barcelonistas que el su equipo jamás ganaría la tan ansiada Copa de Europa.

 

Photo From: Onze, Issue 126, June 1986

(May 7, 1986, Champions Cup, Steaua Bucharest 0-Barcelona 0)


Soccernostalgia Question: Describe Bernd Schuster’s feud with Venables on the day of the Champions Cup Final that sidelined him for the following season/? Were there ongoing problems throughout the season between the two?

Soccernostalgia Pregunta:¿Describa la enemistad de Bernd Schuster con Venables el día de la final de la Copa de Campeones que lo dejó fuera de juego para la siguiente temporada? ¿Hubo problemas continuos a lo largo de la temporada entre los dos?

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: Recently, in a BarçaTV program dedicated to the figure of Terry Venables, I was able to find out more about the famous disagreement between Schuster and the coach. Everyone knows that Schuster was substituted in the final against Steaua and that he didn't even stay to see the penalties. That he took a taxi and left the stadium. But it all started before. Apparently, during the 1985/86 season, seeing that Schuster no longer performed as well as in the past, the coach thought it appropriate to sell the German. He still had a lot of value in the market and there was money to be made for him to bring in some other young player with potential. Venables asked the president, but the president told him that at that moment, he couldn't sell Bernd. Schuster found out and was not amused. Since then, the relationship has never been the same. And everything exploded in Seville.

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: Hace poco, en un programa de BarçaTV dedicado a la figura de Terry Venables, pude saber más acerca del célebre desencuentro entre Schuster y el entrenador. Todo el mundo sabe que Schuster fue sustituido en la final contra el Steaua y que no se quedó ni a ver los penaltis. Que tomó un taxi y se marchó del estadio. Pero todo empezó antes. Al parecer, durante la temporada 1985/86, al ver que Schuster ya no rendía igual que en el pasado, el míster creyó conveniente vender al alemán. Todavía tenía mucho valor en el mercado y se podía sacar un dinero por él para traer a algún otro jugador joven con potencial. Venables se lo pidió al presidente, pero éste le dijo que en ese momento, no podía vender a Bernd. Schuster se enteró y no le hizo ninguna gracia. Desde entonces, la relación ya nunca fue la misma. Y todo explotó en Sevilla.

 

Soccernostalgia Question: Which players maintained their standards from the previous season and which players do you think were disappointing?

Soccernostalgia Pregunta:¿Qué jugadores mantuvieron el nivel de la temporada anterior y qué jugadores crees que fueron decepcionantes?

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: This is a question that I couldn't answer exactly. If I had to say some, I guess Julio Alberto kept it, for example. Also Urruti. Among those who were worse, I do not know ... maybe Schuster?

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: Esta es una pregunta que no sabría responder con exactitud. Si tuviera que decir algunos, supongo que Julio Alberto lo mantuvo, por ejemplo. También Urruti. Entre los que estuvieron peor, no lo sé… ¿quizá Schuster?

 

Soccernostalgia Question: In the aftermath, Schuster was scapegoated along with Archibald as Venables signed Mark Hughes and Gary Lineker for the following season. How did the Catalan public view the treatment of Schuster and Archibald?

Soccernostalgia Pregunta: Posteriormente, Schuster fue el chivo expiatorio junto con Archibald cuando Venables firmó a Mark Hughes y Gary Lineker para la temporada siguiente. ¿Cómo veía el público catalán el trato a Schuster y Archibald?

 

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: The Barça fan loved both of them very much. Schuster was controversial and, after leaving for Madrid, he was no longer seen in the same way, but during his time at the club he did win the affection of the fans with his charisma and his good work on the pitch. Archibald arrived the year Maradona left, and Venables requested his signing ahead of Hugo Sánchez. Time has left Archibald in a second or third place in the club's history, but the truth is that he was very important in the 1985 League. Perhaps his performance dropped in the second season...

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: El aficionado azulgrana quería mucho a ambos. Schuster era polémico y, tras marcharse al Madrid, ya no fue visto igual, pero durante su etapa en el club sí se ganó el cariño de la afición con su carisma y su buen hacer sobre el césped. Archibald llegó el año en que se marchó Maradona, y Venables pidió su fichaje por delante del de Hugo Sánchez. El tiempo ha dejado a Archibald en un segundo o tercer plano en la historia del club, pero lo cierto es que fue muy importante en la Liga de 1985. Quizá bajó su rendimiento en la segunda temporada…

 

Soccernostalgia Question: Barcelona finished second in all the tournaments it participated (they did win the League Cup though). After so many near misses, the Catalan public must have been disappointed. How was the public reaction at the end of the season towards President Nunez and Venables?

Soccernostalgia Pregunta: Barcelona terminó segundo en todos los torneos en los que participó (aunque ganó la Copa de la Liga). Después de tantos cuasi accidentes, el público catalán debe haberse sentido decepcionado. ¿Cómo fue la reacción del público al final de la temporada hacia el presidente Núñez y Venables?

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: When everything is lost it is a drama. Many people thought that Venables should have been fired at the end of that season. And it probably should have been. The following season, in which the team was again second in the League and did not go far in either the UEFA Cup (fourth) or the Cup (eliminated in the first round against Osasuna), showed that Venables' cycle was over. Not even bringing in British players like Hughes or Lineker managed to change the face of the team. Núñez still had credit among the fans, but he was also required to continue winning, which also had to change things so that the team returned to the path of success.

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: Cuando se pierde todo es un drama. Mucha gente pensaba que Venables debió ser cesado al final de esa temporada. Y probablemente así debió ser. La siguiente temporada, en la que de nuevo el equipo fue segundo en Liga y no llegó lejos ni en Copa de la UEFA (cuartos) ni en Copa (eliminado en 1ª ronda contra Osasuna), demostró que el ciclo de Venables estaba acabado. Ni siquiera trayendo a jugadores británicos como Hughes o Lineker logró cambiarle la cara al equipo. Núñez todavía tenía crédito entre la afición, pero igualmente se le exigía seguir ganando, con lo cual debía cambiar también las cosas para que el equipo volviera a la senda de los éxitos.

 

Soccernostalgia Question: In closing, on balance, how do you personally rate this season as a whole?

Soccernostalgia Pregunta: Para cerrar, en balance, ¿cómo califica personalmente esta temporada en su conjunto?

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: Seen coldly, the season meant reaching two finals. But both were lost to teams that the fans considered inferior. Perhaps it was not a bad season, but there was a catharsis in Seville that marked the beginning of the end of that project with Venables. Historically, Barcelona are not good at leaving the league aside to focus on the European Cup. It has never won it without also winning the League.

Albert Valor @PLF_2008 Response: Vista fríamente, la temporada supuso llegar a dos finales. Pero ambas se perdieron ante equipos a los que el aficionado consideraba inferiores. Quizá no fue una mala temporada, pero sí hubo una catarsis en Sevilla que supuso el principio del fin de aquel proyecto con Venables. Históricamente, al Barcelona no se le da bien dejar de lado la Liga para centrarse en la Copa de Europa. Nunca la ha