Pep Guardiola, this Sunday in England, had a few words of compassion for FC Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde. Did he feel responsible, despite himself, for the trial of each of his successors for never having approached the harmony of “his” Barça? The sign of affection had no effect on the board of directors of the Catalan club: Ernesto Valverde was sacked Monday, January 13, after the club leaked information all weekend that he was looking for him a successor. Inelegance that Guardiola and Andrès Iniesta, former masters of Camp Nou, have publicly deplored. Perhaps it’s the lack of habit: Barça had not dismissed a coach during the season since Louis Van Gaal, in 2003.
Accord trouvé entre le FC Barcelone et Ernesto Valverde pour la résiliation de son contrat.
Merci pour tout, Ernesto. Bonne chance pour la suite.
In the process, the Catalan club announced that it had reached an agreement “until June 30, 2022” with Quique Setién , ex-midfielder of Atlético Madrid (three selections for the Spanish team in 1985-1986), which has notably coached Las Palmas and Betis Seville in recent seasons.
Like “Tata” Martino and Luis Enrique before him, Ernesto Valverde never really convinced despite the trophies, conquered in difficult conditions. Barça, less than any other, accept no hesitation on his style of play. It was not easy either, in the last century, to succeed Johan Cruyff on the bench of a club that thinks above itself of the pack.
Valverde, discreet and appreciated coach, leaves Barça in a comfortable position on paper: leader, tied with Real Madrid, of a Liga of which he is the title holder, and qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League where he will face Naples. But appearances do not deceive many people: the last convincing match of Barça goes back to moons. The fragility exposed against Liverpoolin the semi-final return of the last Champions League – 4-0 defeat after a Catalan success 3-0 in the first leg – becomes usual.
What was almost acceptable in Anfield is less acceptable in Leganes, Prague or Pamplona. “The blow to Liverpool touched us, even if we didn’t want to or couldn’t recognize it,” Valverde admitted in a club media interview on December 24, adding that Anfield’s trauma was itself a replica of Rome, a year earlier – 3-0 elimination after a 4-1 first leg victory in the C1 quarter-finals.