Unity needed at Barcelona to heal after Guardiola rant

Posted by Francesc Tomas

JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty ImagesBarcelona fans would like to see more unity at the club's executive level, like in this 2010 photo of former president Joan Laporta shaking hands with current president Sandro Rosell.

Thiago Alcantara's decision to join Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich has certainly shaken the Blaugrana world, causing divisions among supporters which, unfortunately, may take a considerable number of years to fully heal.

Contrary to what many believe, the whole issue is not even about the 22-year-old player himself. Personally, I feel that obtaining 25 million euros for a youngster who was never prepared to show any long-term commitment to the club that gave him the unique opportunity to find his way into professional football is not necessarily bad business.

- Hunter: Summing up Barca's summer of drama

Sure, the fact that president Sandro Rosell clumsily agreed to let Thiago's clause to drop from 90 to 18 million was a regrettable, costly mistake but, honestly, I believe the midfielder was determined to swap the Camp Nou for the Allianz Arena as soon as Guardiola took charge of the German champions anyway.

The Catalan manager (with the help of his agent/brother Pere) convinced Thiago that competing against world-class talents such as Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas for yet another season would hurt his career and, from that point on, there was nothing Barcelona could do to keep him.

The way in which the former Barcelona manager attacked the club directors, however, has brought endless debate within Catalunya and beyond. Unfortunately, supporters feel forced to take sides, as if the club had suddenly turned into a Rosell vs Joan Laporta-Guardiola-Johan Cruyff battle -- a far from ideal situation for an institution which has always shown immense pride of its 'Mes Que Un Club' values.

The situation became so hostile that even Tito Vilanova felt obliged to comment: "As you know, I like to avoid talking about personal things. But I heard what Pep said, and it wasn't true, it surprised me. I don't think that anyone on the board used me to attack him. These people have always helped me however they possibly can. I was the one that was alone, I was the one going through a tough time, I was the one who needed help."

Interestingly enough, 62% of Cules feel that Guardiola is not to blame for the rift in opinion and 60% think that Guardiola is right to complain about the way he was treated by the current Blaugrana board. However, at the same time, 74% also believe that Tito is telling the truth. The mixed opinions paint a rather gloomy picture about the club's political situation.

With the elections slowly but surely approaching, it is no surprise that the opposition has taken advantage of the situation by criticising every decision the current president has taken or is preparing to take in the near future.

Having allowed Eric Abidal to leave after recovering from life-threatening injury, having sold David Villa to Atletico Madrid on the cheap and having lost Thiago to the Bundesliga after a shameful buy-out clause blunder, it is obvious why many believe that Rosell is progressively ruining the best generation of players in the club's history and destroying Laporta's sporting legacy.

On the other hand, the current president still has a considerable amount of support from those who appreciate his continued effort to cut the club's huge debt (from €431 million when he arrived to the current €298 million). The signing of Neymar before his magnificent display at the Confederations Cup, before the price tag could have sky-rocketed, can also be considered a positive move.

If Barcelona are serious about challenging for all the major European titles next season, the team must address the need for an experienced center back as soon as possible.

Despite having chased long-term target Thiago Silva for many months, the transfer of the Brazilian captain seems nothing more than a distant dream at this moment. Qatar-owned Paris Saint Germain are certainly not short of cash and, unfortunately for Barcelona, they are not likely to sell one of their most valuable assets any time soon.

The majority of the Blaugrana community is obviously not too pleased with Rosell's recent decisions. If he does not reinforce the defensive line appropriately this summer, that failure would certainly put even more pressure on the board.

Regardless of what ends up happening in the transfer window, however, I feel Cules must stand by their players and coaches in the upcoming season. It is undeniable that the team is bound to perform better on the pitch when they are surrounded by a positive ethos, and despite the frustration fans may feel with the club directors, Lionel Messi and the rest of the squad must be supported from the very second the ball starts rolling.

If Laporta and Rosell really love the club as much as they say they do, then they should put their differences to the side for the benefit of the club as a whole -- at least until club members choose their next representative in the 2016 elections.

Time to start the healing process.

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For more news and opinion notes on Barcelona, follow Francesc Tomas at @TomasESPN and Facebook; 33,800 Cules have already joined.

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