Wednesday, March 7, 2012

When the season started smiles and polite optimism were gone… Weissweiler and Cruyff clashed, indeed. The team backed up their captain and it was clear that Cruyff ruled the locker room. Weissweiler was resisted and disrespected. And came to impasse: Weissweiler insisted on unconditional following of his requirements. He wouldn’t imagine mear players arguing, refusing to follow orders, and questioning his authority and rightness. ‘I am the best coach in the world!’, he snapped. ‘And I am the best player in the world!’, Cruyff immediately responded. In a way, it was fantastic situation – Weissweiler had no problems with free-willing and opinionated Netzer; Cruyff had no problem with dictatorial Michels. What was different to each of them now? Nothing worked… the prophesy of the pre-season photo came true: Weissweiler needed Fogts, not Cruyff… and he was not getting any Fogts, for, as the season progressed, the result of the battle with Cruyff was also progressing to conclusion – the coach lost it. ‘Saint’ Cruyff was to stay, and Weissweiler was to look for employment. Barcelona finished second – in Catalunia, second place means unforgivable and miserable failure. The failure may had been orchestrated by Cruyff, but Weissweiler was to pay for it.
‘Disastrous’ Barcelona: practically, the very same team who won the 1974 championship. Built by Michels. Seemingly, there was no imput by Weissweiler… in fact, the only faint similarity with Borussia Moenchengladbach came in numbers – like Weissweiler’s Borussia, Barcelona scored the most goals in the Spanish league, but had exceptionally leaky defense. From what I saw of this vintage, Barca was uninspired team, sometime looking lost, desperately depending of toughness. Cruyff was pale shadow of himself and Neeskens – not even that. Weissweiler paid at the end and Cruyff fumed a little longer, just to have the final word… may be Weissweiler would have been better off in the ‘German’ Real Madrid… but they did not need a coach.
Real still had Milan Miljanic, perhaps more difficult person to deal with than Weissweiler, but the difficult egos of Netzer and Breitner somehow never clashed with Miljanic’s one. Real Madrid ended champions, just like in 1975. They finished 5 points ahead of Barcelona, but were by no means overwhelming victors: the attack was measly, for instance, scoring only 54 goals in 34 games. Less than 2 goals per match average… the defense was best in the league, though, giving the impression that Real played untypical for its tradition defensive football. But Miljanic was no fan of defensive tactics, so most likely it was not new tactics, but rather mediocre form, or something not quite working on the pitch. May be not the best bunch of players, who knows… those were not the greatest years of Real anyway. Business as usual for Real – another title! But it was the same squad of the last few years… unlike Barcelona’s, with more future, for it was younger. The club was not rattled by scandals, but nobody was really happy and satisfied either – Miljanic’s contract was not extended, although his record was perfect – two titles in two seasons. Netzer was to go… Breitner was to go… not right away, like Miljanic, but their days were numbered. And the days of Santiago Bernabeu were numbered… his age made his departure certain… any day, really. Barcelona and Real were like negatives of each other this year…suggesting fundamental problems of Spanish football, but at least Real ended champions. The ironic spell… a suspect winner in 1976 became the suspect coach of world champions 35 years later… Vicente Del Bosque.