Condemned by Fans, Lauded by Players- Ernesto Valverde

Barcelona announced the renewal of Ernesto Valverde on Friday for another season (2019/2020) with an option for another year (2020/2021) much to the dismay of the fans who wanted the coach to leave at the end of this present season because of his style of play and approach to games which is far away from how Barcelona should play.

Ernesto Valverde has led Barcelona in 96 official matches, winning 65, drawing 22 and losing just 9 times in his one and half year at the Catalan giants, so far winning the LaLiga Santander, Copa Del Ray and Spanish Super Cup. Valverde’s team has scored 233 goals, conceding 78 in the process.

Valverde took over from Luis Enrique in the summer of 2017 to build on the success of Lucho, but barely 2 weeks to the start of the season, he lost a star player in Neymar to PSG before signing Dembele (who was injured most of the season) and Coutinho in January (but couldn’t play in the UCL), He made a shock signing of Paulinho who turned out to be an unlikely hero in the early part of that season. In what was a bittersweet season for the club, winning the local double but losing the UCL (edged out by Roma in what was a disgraceful performance).

The players in recent months has come out in full support of Valverde, saying they would love him to stay and continue his good work, the team seems motivated and wants to win everything. What does every coach want? The full support of his players and the executives and hopefully the fans. Barcelona President, Josep Bartomeu has openly praised Valverde and hoped he renewed, top players like Messi, Suarez, Pique, Alba, Roberto, Busquets, Rakitic and Ter Stegenhas all pushed their weight on the renewal of Valverde as they are happy with him and want continuity. 

From the way the squad is being shaped, Valverde is building a super team with the right blend of experience, youth, La Masia. Barcelona recent signing De Jong and Todibo has shown intent by the club to start planning for the future. With already proven young players like Arthur, Alena and Dembele who has both been sensational this season.

From the look of things, Valverde’s full vision will come into fruition from next season, after the board sells off the dead weights of the team with their replacements set to arrive in the summer. Barcelona are working on bringing in a top 9 and a back up left back with Jordi Alba’s renewal still in works. The way the team plays next season will allow everyone to fullyjudge whether he has done a good job or not.

The fans from the inception has been against the appointment of the Valverde with the fans leaning towards a more possession and attacking minded coach unlike Valverde who is a more conservative coach in his approach and team setup. Under Valverde, his first season showed how he sacrificed possession for defensive and counter attacking play, switched their formation from the traditional 4-3-3 formation to 4-4-2due to injuries which worked for him in the first season.

Valverde, in his first season made mistakes when it came to squad rotation, prioritizing the league even thou he was clearly on top and could have rested key players which eventually cost him the UCL after Roma beat Barcelona in Rome 3-0 overturning a first leg defeat of 4-1 at the Camp Nou, a defeat most Barcelona fans are yet to forgive him for.

This season has seen Valverde rotate his team in all competitions keeping his key players fresh, but have lost more games already than he did in the whole of last season. Valverde has been accused of losing control in games but the truth is, the team only has two creative midfielders in Arthur and Alena (who peaked late December) with Coutinho out of form all season, having to use Vidal and Rakitic in midfield. Arthur cannot play all games, and is presently injured for about 3 weeks.

Watching Barcelona play now and comparing this team and style of play to other Barcelona teams in recent years, you can clearly see the dissatisfaction in the faces of the fans, but at the end the fans needs to throw their support for the coach as he would still be here next season. The team as a whole strives when the fans along with players and board are in full support of the team. 

Personally, I am a fan of Valverde because he has adapted to the present situation of football in terms of physicality and has convinced the players to his style of play and getting the full support of the team. It isobvious that the team needs more creative players apart from Messi, Dembele has been impressive all season after the whole issue he had with the team at the start of the season, Coutinho has been unimpressive all season which has also reduce the creativity level of the team.

In general, Ernesto Valverde has done a good job with the team, squad control, competition among players, rotation this season has improved, he has also had an underrated season so far, playing without his best defender Umtiti so far, Messi injured for about a month, Dembele injured for 3 weeks and no proper backup for Alba and having to use Roberto and Semedo without proper rest. The team needs to play with more flair which I think they can attain next season once more players comes in and adapts to the team fully.

Barcelona resume today in the league as they face Valladolid this evening in preparation for their trip toLyon on Tuesday in the Champions League. The team welcomes back a fully fit Messi and Dembele but Arthur and Cillessen still out injured.

About Oyakhi

Am an avid football fan and a Barcelona fan at heart. I give my own opinion on various trending football topics.

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