It’s hard work watching Barcelona at the moment.
A few weeks into the season all that was being talked about was how it was their worst start for 25 years, but a few big wins at home switched the narrative to some extent.
Unfortunately for the Catalans, that didn’t last long.
Used to powering ahead of the chasing pack, Barca seem to be treading water most weeks, and a prime example of their funk came against Leganes a short while ago in La Liga.The Madrid-based club were rooted to the bottom of the table with the worst defence in the division, and yet they made Barca look second best for long periods.
Not only that, it was a Blaugrana side that had all of Dembele, Griezmann, Messi and Suarez in the starting line up.
If not quite a chicken shoot, the visitors to Butarque should’ve left with a much more comfortable scoreline than the 2-1 win they eventually managed.
That the winner came from the boot of Arturo Vidal in what was a very lucky break for the visitors tells you just how poorly Barca played.
But who gets the blame for this continued poor showing, despite the fact that they are still very much in the title race at this point?
Clearly, Ernesto Valverde has to take most of it on his shoulders. His style of football has long disappointed the Barca faithful, but this season the level of urgency seems to have dropped even further.
The players too, need to take on board criticism. There are one or two who can exempt themselves, but in the main, those who’ve pulled on the Blaugrana haven’t performed to anywhere near the level required of such a storied club.
One person who appears to have escaped the wrath of just about everyone is Eric Abidal.
Barca’s former player, and now sporting director, has certainly had a hand in matters arising since his appointment, chiefly because of his approval of certain players – Griezmann for example.
By not moving on other players, the French World Cup winner like Philippe Coutinho before him has barely had a chance to prove his quality and has been played out of position often.
So the question has to be asked as to whether he was truly needed in the first place, or whether it was a strategic buy in terms of marketing and the like.
Bringing Neymar back doesn’t seem like the wisest decision either, but Abidal has admitted that it could happen.
And an interview where he suggested that the losses against Roma and Liverpool in the Champions League were ‘accidents’ hasn’t gone down well.
It smacks of an individual out of his depth and out of touch with his staff.
Time will tell if he can finally get things right behind the scenes so Valverde and his side can get it right on the pitch.