The British philosopher and thinker Edmund Burke reportedly said that fear is the most ignorant, harmful and cruel of counsellors. It's very likely that the president of FC Barcelona, Josep Maria Bartomeu, has never heard of Burke, but he's been leading the club since last Thursday's Supercopa defeat by Atlético de Madrid in Saudi Arabia in a way closely bordering on the ridiculous. We were legion those of us who, at the end of last season, argued for changing coach since it was more than evident that Ernesto Valverde didn't have enough about him to face another year.
Bartomeu ignored all the advice, including that from many of his colleagues on the board of directors, thinking, perhaps, that after the humiliating defeats by Roma (2018) and Liverpool (2019) there wouldn't be a third. It was the time to turn over a new leaf, to recover the Barça model that has been slowly being lost and set a new course. Fear and mediocrity blocked everything.
But nothing of that which has happened during the last two seasons has reached the extreme of this one and of what has happened in the last 72 hours when there's been a live broadcast of the auditions to find a substitute for Valverde without firing him. First they were looking for the charisma of Xavi Hernández, the mythical midfielder from Terrassa. If he'd accepted, it would have been a perfect lightning rod for Bartomeu, but he rejected them, as Carles Puyol a few months ago rejected being the club's sporting director. They also say Ronald Koeman snubbed them in the last few hours and that they're looking against the clock for a trainer who could take their place on the bench immediately for a few months.
Those who have much to lose have much to fear, Burke said too. The season is still in very early days and as football is fickle, Barça could still end it well. And hopefully they will. But they have to do their homework and it makes no sense for Bartomeu to finish out the last year of his mandate. The best thing to do would be to call elections for the start of the summer and for a new president, with the backing of the members, to face up to a new mandate without anything holding them back.