After watching Barcelona last night, I went to bed with a smile

I watched one of the best football matches I've seen for a very long time last night and it was very simply, a joy. It made me think about what was possible if you do it the right way and if anyone doesn't know this; Barcelona do it the right way.

You can act like Real Madrid and buy in all the talent you want and a new manager every few seasons and it might work, for the short term or bring intermittent success, but if you could pick, wouldn't you do it the Barcelona way?


Barcelona started with eight players from their youth system last night and while there is no simple answer as to why they are so good together, you can make a very short list.

But making a list to try and explain why Barcelona are the team they are seems a little disrespectful, so I'm not going to, but there are a few factors.

It could be that they start playing football, the right way, from such an early age and that they have played together for so long. You can also not take away the fact that they are all talented players and that they know each others game inside out.

Another important factor is that they they mostly all play for their club - not just any old football club paying them money. They play for their football club and I fancy that counts for something too.

If we could take anything from the above factors, it would possibly be continuity and if you look at any truly successful team, they've all had it.

Romance isn't dead

I'm a romantic at heart, but I believe, to my core, that the way Barcelona do it is the only way to really achieve success at a club and the only way for any football club to move forward.

It isn't about bringing in players for large amounts of cash when you can, if you are willing to put in the time and effort, develop your own. Yes, the short term solution is to buy it in, but behind the scenes, you have to develop and you have to create that winning mentality.

Adding spice to the pot

David Villa is a finisher and if you give him the ball in the box, three times a match, with a little bit of space, he'll score for you. You either have that natural instinct or you don't. Barcelona didn't have that at the club, so they brought it in. Sometimes you have to break the bank for that player and sometimes you just have to wait a season or two until that player is ready to make the step up.

It is also sometimes about the core ingredients and in Xavi and Iniesta, Barcelona have the best central midfield partnership in football, but it separate those two and put them in Manchester United and Chelsea, we will never see the best of them again and it isn't just about those two, it is about the players that they've played with for years and years around them.

My point is, the value isn't just them, the value is in the team and them playing together. Xavi is 30, but he has spent 19 years at Barcelona, while Iniesta is still only 26, but he has played with or around Xavi for 12 years and they've both learnt how to play football the simple way; keeping the ball, making space and passing.

Aston Villa

I know I've harped on this morning and that nothing above has anything to do with Aston Villa, but there is little to talk about in terms of Aston Villa at the moment. We have a big match tomorrow and important that we win and not just because of the competition or who we are playing, but because we need a win and losing tomorrow might push some over the edge.

But we do have some speculation and it centres around the usual suspects. First, Stephen Ireland is generating interest from Newcastle and Liverpool and I say, if we can get anything remotely close to his perceived value of £10mn then we have to take it, as I think it's clear he isn't interested in playing for us and I'm not really surprised either.

In further speculation, we are apparently interested in 19 year old Swedish striker Robin Soder, currently plying his trade at IFK Göteborg. I'll ask a buddy what he's like, but according to reports, he is very good.

We also have the regular as clockwork £6mn Robbie Keane rumour which is £5.5mn too much for a 30 year old player that can not get a start for Spurs and it isn't going to happen anyway as the manager has put an age requirement of 32 on his wanted list.

So, with nothing else, I'm going to put the Barcelona match on my second monitor, sit back with my coffee and watch it all again and probably again after that.

While watching, I'm going to romanticise about what it would be like to have an Academy system generating talented players that have all played together for many years and won things season after season, because if we ever got that at Aston Villa, then surely we would be closer than we could ever imagine to having a team moving very much in the right direction.

Question of the day

Another question not related to Aston Villa, but I'm just asking because my answer is I suspect will be in the minority as I think Real Madrid will win La Liga this season.

Barcelona drop silly points while Jose Mourinho won't allow that to happen with Real Madrid. Mourinho knows it is the silly points dropped that cost you the title.

We wont see better from Barcelona this season and quite possibly better from this team again, but I just see Real Madrid winning the title and Mourinho taking over at Manchester United next season or the season after that.