It feels like it’s an end of an era for Barcelona. It might be a week of losing three titles one after the other, and Gerardo Martino doesn’t seem to be someone who’ll stay for another year. It’s time for a change, in concept, and maybe even is style. Players, most likely, won’t be coming because of the transfer ban enforced on them. Jurgen Klopp of Borussia Dortmund might be the best thing for them to hire.
Borussia Dortmund beat Bayern Munich 3-0 in a garbage time match, but it probably wouldn’t have happened under a different manager, and a different style. Marco Reus said after the game that it is the only way to beat Bayern these days. That, and having Bayern go into the match with the league season practically over, and with nothing to play for. But Klopp is one of those managers with his fingerprint on almost everything his team does.
Klopp, not alone, built this team from financial shambles and mediocrity bordering on failure, not to mention looking sheepishly at relegation. It took him a few years to get the right talent from the youth system and start signing the right players – the Polish invasion, Shinji Kagawa and others. It ended with two league titles, something almost unheard of in Germany in 15 years unless your name is Bayern Munich, and then a Champions League final, which ended dramatically, not in his favor.
It’s almost like a lost fight against Bayern. The money and eventually players quality is incredibly in their favor, no matter how you flip it. It can be battled with the right tactics and creating the right kind of team atmosphere, but in the long run, the richer team that also has a capable front office and manager, will prevail. Unless Klopp has some lifetime bond with the club, a step up in European football’s hierarchy is coming.
So why Klopp to Barcelona? Because Tiki-Taka in its purest form is no longer effective. Barcelona make it work because Lionel Messi is beyond a system, and the same goes for Andres Iniesta and Xavi, while having players like Pedro and Alexis Sanchez as the fourth and fifth best players on your team doesn’t hurt. But a concept needs to be changed and brought from the outside. Because teams know how to play against the possession-only style. Because Barcelona are heading towards a year of being the underdogs.
No one is Guardiola, not in the eyes of Barcelona fans. A player who grew up in the club, won the first European Cup with them, and became the manager of the probably the finest team in the history of European football. Klopp isn’t that, he’ll never be. But he is a manager that seems to be about more than just one or two seasons with one team. His football has proven itself in more than just one stage, and wasn’t too far from winning it all in 2013.
Relying on Lionel Messi can’t go on forever. Barcelona have made mistakes over the last few years concerning their team-building decisions: Not bringing in new centre backs, to giving up on playing with a striker, and even going back to selling Yaya Toure or signing Cesc Fabregas while giving up on Thiago. Something that can’t be fixed now, but carrying on expecting success with this style and the same squad that is declining is stubborn and foolish. Klopp means a change, and probably the right one, even if it’ll take more than one season.