The sacking of Ernesto Valverde by Barcelona on Monday was inevitable, but their hunt for his successor indicates that the mess at the Nou Camp is about more than just the head coach.
Before Valverde was eventually dismissed late on Monday, the Barca bigwigs had seemingly been on a tour of wildly different potential replacements: Xavi, Ronald Koeman, Mauricio Pochettino and even Thierry Henry, before finally settling on Quique Setien.
“Going for so many candidates,” said Alvaro Romeo on this week’s European edition of the Totally Football Show, “and some of them are different, shows that because Barcelona don’t have a sporting director, so they don’t know exactly who they want or the profile of manager they really want.
“They don’t know what to do. They don’t have a direction: they tried to go for Xavi, and he said no. Then they tried to sign Ronald Koeman, because he used to play for Barcelona, but there wasn’t any reason behind that.”
Was it even the right decision to get rid of Valverde? Julien Laurens was not a fan: “He came in and did an OK job for a club in crisis, won a couple of leagues – but he’s destroyed Barca’s style of football, destroyed Frenkie de Jong’s game this season. He never fitted the Barca DNA.”
Alvaro then detailed the job he did during his two-and-a-half years: “When Valverde arrived, Andres Iniesta and Neymar were still there. Neymar left after six weeks, so Valverde had to alter his plans about having the ‘MSN’ up front. He invented something – playing a 4-4-2 and ignored the left wing, giving it to Jordi Alba. He won the title that season and didn’t lose a [league] game until May 13.
“Valverde got some credit from the board for winning the league, but what happened at Anfield, and Rome as well, left a very strong mark. Obviously if Barcelona this season were worse than this season and the season before, he was going to be in danger, so I understand why he has been sacked.
“There are a number of things he hasn’t done well. The style is not as good as it was, academy players haven’t been promoted and Barcelona have lost the eagerness to produce heavy wins – as soon as they have 1-0 or 2-0, they are satisfied. In La Liga that is enough, because usually it’s difficult for teams to beat you if you score first, but in the Champions League that’s not true.
“The club hasn’t been respectful of a manager who won two league titles.”
Could this mess potentially prevent them from winning La Liga this season, despite currently sitting top of the table?
“Potentially, yes. Especially with Real Madrid doing well. Leo Messi can win games on his own, but he can’t win a whole competition.”
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