There’s this saying, “Getting to the top is easy, staying at the top is the hard part”.
I do not really know how exactly it was said as I am just paraphrasing, but you get my point (I hope).
The thing with football – and life in general – is that one always has to evolve or get left behind.
We always hear things like the “Manchester United way” or the “Arsenal way”. The “Barcelona way”.
What does that really mean?
The “entertaining” way a team played that gave them unbridled success over the years?
What these institutions fail to understand is that everything happens in phases. You either evolve or you die.
Take Arsene Wenger and Arsenal for instance. Great Coach in his early years. Then teams began to catch up and he still felt that playing the same way would always yield the same positive results. Admittedly, the move to a new stadium affected a lot of things but he cannot be absolved of all blame.
Now, take Arteta who won the FA Cup. Do we really think that Arsenal fans ultimately cared how they won it seeing as that was not the way they had come to see their team play over previous years?
Now, Barcelona. Terrible signings aside, (the word “terrible” is an understatement in this regard) there would have been absolutely nothing wrong in approaching the Champions League game with a bit of pragmatism. Just in case some of us are not following, Barcelona lost 8-2 yesterday to Bayern Munich in the quarter finals in just one leg.
Now, Bayern Munich is the in-form team in Europe whether we like to admit it or not, winning all their European games and scoring at least two goals in each of them.
Playing toe-to-toe with them because it is the “way of the club” will only bring one outcome. If Barcelona had been a bit more calculated and had lost by just two goals (because the odds on them winning regardless of the set-up was so slim) the outcry would never have been this intense.
Surprisingly, this is not a one-off occurrence. But when you cannot move on from your past achievements and look for a way forward, you would ultimately be left behind.
Now, the pressure on everyone in Barcelona is through the roof and there would be knee-jerk reactions as a result of this.
Hubris does not let one see beyond his own ego.
Sometimes, all you need is a wake up call. In this case, a very bad one.
Ultimately, there is no one way to play football, there is only the winning way.