The evolution of Barcelona
In May 2008, the forecast looked bleak for FC Barcelona. The Catalans had just finished the season 18 points off champions Real Madrid, who had sealed back-to-back titles for the first time in nearly two decades.
We all know what happened next: Pep Guardiola was promoted from B team duties, led the club to two Champions Leagues and three La Liga titles in four years, and revolutionised the way we thought about football.
While much focus is on the club’s change in playing style, the squad itself underwent significant changes in the first few seasons. By 2010-11, just 45% of outfield minutes were played by those in the 2007-08 squad, with players like Ronaldinho, Deco and Oleguer quickly dismissed.
In this process, the first team became younger and more dynamic. The remnants of the 2007-08 team slowly eroded, save for those players developed at La Masia. In the last five years, much of the squad has moved into peak-age territory, with no end to the succession of titles.
Now that the transfer window has closed, it’s useful to think about our own squad evolution. Of the 20-25 first team players on our books, how many will be around in 2 years’ time? In 5 years’ time? How will we need to change the age profile of the team in order to remain competitive?
Long-term planning needn’t be prescriptive, but knowing the direction of travel is essential.