2020 has been a rollercoaster of a year – full of ups and downs. Unfortunately, for us FC Barcelona fans, 2020 has been mostly downs. We had to endure the never-ending shenanigans of the club we love the most, along with the list of restrictions and limitations posed by the COVID pandemic. However, despite all that, we now know that things can only get better from here…Right? Regardless, in this article, I will summarize the key events that occurred for Barça in 2020 and reflect on the few things we can look forward to.
The Managerial Shake-up
Barça started the year like they ended it, with a draw and shambolic performance against a struggling team. After a series of underwhelming performances, like the 2-2 result against Espanyol and Super Cup semi-final loss against Atlético, Bartomeu faced immense pressure to find his new scapegoat. He abruptly fired Ernesto Valverde and hired Quique Setién to take his place and, although Culers rejoiced after this long-awaited moment, our hope blindsided us from the nasty reality.
With an unbalanced and limited squad full of aging players and huge personalities, it was tough for Setién to impose his ideas and gain control of the locker room. These factors created greater tension amongst the club and led to worsening results, like the losses to Real and Athletic Bilbao. These strings of matches left Barça only two points on top of the league and caused them to crash out of the Copa del Rey. As all of this happened right before the Spanish authorities announced a nationwide lockdown.
BarçaGate & Other Scandals
Even if the world was in the midst of a global health crisis, Barcelona’s problems and chaos did not stop. In early April, it was officially notified that 6 executive members had resigned and decided to part their ways with Bartomeu. This announcement created more ambiguity and uncertainty, leaving the board incomplete, with only 13 members.
If this news wasn’t enough to signal troubling times for the club, it got worse when Emili Rousaud, former Barcelona Vice President, spoke out against Bartomeu and re-opened the wounds of BarçaGate. Rousaud stated how acts of corruption were involved when the club diverted funds to hire a company called I3 Ventures to tarnish the reputation of Barça legends like Pep and Messi, and presidential candidates like Joan Laporta and Víctor Font. The company created multiple fake social media accounts and pages to defame such figures and promote the board’s agenda.
However, it doesn’t stop there – the scandals and shady deals continued. Culers witnessed how the board blamed the players for refusing to reduce their salaries due to the economic effects of COVID-19. Their desperation for financial stability and balanced accounts even made them force out Arthur Melo to join Juventus and swap Miralem Pjanić in return. These types of transfers and decisions under Bartomeu’s regime signified ethical incorrectness and how Barcelona have strayed away from their core values of – “Més Que un Club”.
More Than A Trophyless Season
When Messi said that we will later realize the value of winning 8 La Liga titles in 11 years and cherish it forever, we realized it pretty soon. Due to the lack of fitness, cohesiveness, and planning, we were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Bilbao, lost the league to Real Madrid, and thrashed by Bayern Munich.
The trophyless end to the season not only showed that Barcelona has become a mediocre team, but has also become a club with serious institutional and sporting crises. The 8-2 thrashing against Bayern was Barça’s biggest defeat in their club history on the European stage. And even if the 4-0 loss against Liverpool was a humiliating one – considering the context – an 8-2 scoreline was incomparable.
This closure to the 19/20 campaign was a nightmare for all Barcelona fans around the world. However, it surely wasn’t an ending that many didn’t see coming.
After the wild 19/20 season, I am pretty sure that every single Barça fan wanted to forget it and move on, but it wasn’t that easy for everyone. On August 25th, Lionel Messi sent a burofax to the club, notifying that he had exercised his contractual right to leave Barcelona for free. Even the biggest Barça supporter was tired and fed up of the wrongdoings and lack of a sporting project, citing that in the groundbreaking interview he went on to publish with GOAL.
Messi desired to start a new chapter in his life and possibly benefit Barcelona by lowering the wage bill. But Bartomeu broke his promise and blocked Messi’s move. This mess, along with the mistreatment of his good friend, Luis Suárez, heightened the climate in Barcelona and set an ugly precedent for the start of the new footballing season.
The Successful Vote of No Confidence – Bartomeu Out, But Tusquets In
The summer madness at Barcelona made hundreds of thousands of fans go insane. However, it did highlight the strength and power of democracy. Messi’s burofax to the club and Bartomeu’s mishandling of the situation triggered socis and presidential candidates. People like Víctor Font and Jordi Farre, initiated the vote of no confidence. They aimed to get Bartomeu out of the club.
Regardless of being in a pandemic, the socis and hardworking volunteers broke the 16,500 vote threshold for the first phase of the motion to pass. Even if the referendum remained, this pressure alone was enough to have Bartomeu and his goons finally resign.
Though Bartomeu’s resignation led to massive celebrations and cheers from the Barça fan base, grunts and cries soon followed. It was notified that Carlos Tusquets, an interim club president, will be in charge of the club until the presidential elections. But he later postponed them till January 25th, 2021, based on the sole excuse of COVID-19. This news brought great disappointment and anger for many, but gladly one thing was for sure – that Bartomeu was out!
Koeman’s Disastrous Tenure (So Far)
Messi’s burofax and the vote of no confidence generated all the external noise. So it was almost like Ronald Koeman’s appointment as the new manager went under the radar. Koeman decided to risk his progress and potential with the Dutch National Team for a club that’s in absolute turmoil. And it is extremely commendable.
Culers can be appreciative of Koeman’s love and passion for Barcelona. However, it should be clear that he has expectations to fulfill as well. Unfortunately, as of now, those set expectations have not been met. As Barça are currently in 6th place, trailing the league leaders by 10 points!
This dreadful half of the season means that Koeman’s job at the club is in limbo. But we hope that the players and staff find the rhythm and consistency. They can have a joyful start to the new year.
The Future Is Bright
Albeit the negatives and disappointments of this year. Here is the list of things we can look forward to next year and be optimistic about:
- Presidential Elections: Joan Laporta versus Víctor Font
- The Next Cycle: Ansu, Riqui, Pedri, Dest, Araújo, Mingueza, and more…
- Dembele’s growth and time to shine
- Messi’s connection and bond with the youngsters
- A Possible Xavi Era?