How could you hate this face? (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)
Streams of Consciousness is a weekly feature wherein Gareth Simpson writes about pretty much whatever comes to him. This week, he's going to prattle on about things that have been bothering him recently. One of them might even be tangentially related to Aston Villa.
I understand that it's become rather popular to hate on FC Barcelona recently. Now it should be noted that Barcelona is a club that I like quite a great deal. I won't bother you with any attempts to prove my culé credentials, because quite frankly, I don't care if you think I'm a bandwagon fan or not. One thing that I have established, is that I love a really talented club. And Barcelona are, without question, one of the most talented club sides of the still-young millenium. They've won 4 league titles, the Spanish Cup, 4 Spanish Supercups, 2 Champions League titles, the UEFA Super Cup, the FIFA Club World Cup. And there's a pretty good argument that suggests that Barcelona pretty much won this year's World Cup for Spain. God knows Joan Laporta won't stop talking about it.
But here's the thing I really like about Barcelona. Sure, they don't shy away from splashing cash around, but have you seen how many of their players came through their academy? Of their typical starting XI, eight spent at least part of their early career in Barcelona's youth system: Valdes, Pique, Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Busquets, and Pedro. So you'll have to forgive me if I don't quite understand why they come in for so much stick for high-spending transfer activity. I don't understand what makes them worse than Real Madrid and their galacticos or Manchester City and their swollen squad.
Perhaps it's simply because Barcelona, unlike Citeh and los Hijos de Franco, have been so successful. And there's this thing, that I'll never understand, where people dislike teams and players because they have the audacity to be good at what they do. This is similar to the attitude that some people have where they think "too many people like this things, so I have to hate it." Which is basically the dumbest thing in the world. It reminds me of people, particularly over here in North America, who support Manchester City. The reason these people give for supporting what is basically the shittiest high-spending club that currently exists is that "well, I just wanted to root against Manchester United, so I picked their nearest rivals."
Is this you? Have you ever thought something like this? Well, then. STOP IT. JUST STOP. If you can't like something on its own merits, then maybe it's not something worth liking.
A few more quick hits:
- I visited Toronto recently, and let me tell you something. Anyone who says that Toronto is the best city in Canada is an awful liar. The correct answer is Vancouver. Unless you're French, in which case I will skeptically accept Montreal. The main reason that I bring this up is because I am sick, as a Canadian soccer fan, of being told to give a shit about Toronto FC. I'm sorry, I don't. I don't care about Toronto FC, and it's absolutely reprehensible that the Canadian men's national team has only played twice in western Canada in the last five years. Toronto, as a city, quite literally stinks, and for God's sake, if you want to visit New York, just go to New York. There's no reason to accept a substitute that is dirtier, meaner, and generally less interesting.
- Here's the Aston Villa note for you, and we better sprinkle this with a liberal dose of "allegedly." Before Nigel Adkins got the job managing Southampton, speculation had it that our very ex-manager Martin O'Neill was the frontrunner to replace the outgoing Alan Pardew. According to sources known to Lukey Moore, erstwhile Portsmouth supporter and presenter of the estimable Football Ramble, O'Neill was ready to take the job until he discovered that Southampton had the gall to consider other candidates. His subsequent haughty refusal only adds to my growing suspicion that old MON was a bad-tempered prick that we should perhaps be glad to see the back of.
- JOURNALIST ON NOTICE: Grant Wahl seems to think that Xavi deserves the Ballon d'Or over Messi. Now, Xavi is one of the very best midfielders of his generation, but I think you pretty much have to say Messi should win this. It's worth mentioning that I'm a massive hypocrite, because none of us said that Messi should win it. But to snub Messi on the grounds of his performance at the World Cup is borderline nonsensical. First of all, anyone who actually watched Argentina's matches should understand that a dearth of goals does not necessarily mean that Messi did not play well. Perhaps, just perhaps, the blame lies with the Argentinian Football Association for being so blinded by legend that they didn't realize that they'd hired an inexperienced manager who doubles as a coke-addled sociopath to lead a team that should have been contending for the title. If this award is about celebrating the best player in the world, rather than the best player on a team that happened to win a big trophy, you can't really look past Messi. Even though, as I've said, we totally looked past Messi.