Why Valverde At Barça For Another Season Could Spell Disaster
By the looks of things, Ernesto Valverde is set to remain at the helm of FC Barcelona for at least one more season. The Basque coach is under immense scrutiny at the moment. Barcelona were on course for yet another historic treble this season but the final month of the season spelt doom for the Catalans. Despite having a commanding lead over Liverpool in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals, they collapsed in the second leg. Just like Roma in the season before, Liverpool fought and successfully overturned the three-goal deficit.
A couple of weeks later, Barcelona missed out on their fifth straight Copa Del Rey title after losing to Valencia in the final. They did win La Liga but it was their lowest points haul in 5 seasons. A highly promising season came to a devastating end.
Backlash After the Copa Del Rey
The Copa final loss invoked mixed reactions from Barcelona fans. On one side was the pain of not completing the domestic double. On the other hand however, some fans were happy because they felt Valverde will leave. The Barça faithful have turned completely against the coach. Unfortunately for the fans, Valverde seems to have the complete backing of the board and some of the heavyweights in the dressing room.
After all this chaos there are a few prominent reasons as to why Valverde could spell disaster for the club’s ambitions.
Turmoil Among the Fans
Wherever one looks, there is anger amidst the Barça faithful about the Basque coach. On social media, the hashtag #ValverdeOut is spreading like wildfire. There is no doubt that so much negativity about the club will have an impact on everyone.
Backlash to the Board
The board has been under immense scrutiny for about three years now. Its been so due to the transfer policies, contract negotiations, impulse decisions, staff appointments and most of all, performances on the pitch. Along with Valverde, Josep Maria Bartomeu and Pep Segura have also been under heavy criticism from everyone outside the club. There is definitely a sense of anxiety within.
Barcelona seem to have lost their identity on the pitch. Granted that no club can keep a certain level and style forever but the basic identity that makes Barcelona who they are seems to be lost. There is no control in midfield, there is no creativity, no intent, no desire and no clear strategy. The biggest indicator of this is the fact that average possession stats are dwindling. Pass completion seems to be declining and the absence of forward passes is noticeable.
The game plan that the team sets out with seems to be give the ball to Leo Messi and he will do something with it. More often than not, he does do something with it. But this simply cannot go on week in and week out. And in the Champions League, against the best of the best, he needs his team to support him so that they can maximize the damage. Messi will turn 32 this year. He cannot do everything on his own all the time.
Players in Their Comfort Zones
The dressing room heavyweights, i.e the big players, have all backed Valverde to stay. They are all secure in the knowledge that their position in the first team is safe. Nobody wants competition, nobody wants change and nobody wants to push themselves. This kind of mentality has damaged the intensity and the hunger Barcelona players were known to have.
Champions League Failures
One simply cannot ignore the mammoth failures Barcelona have faced in Europe’s premier club competition. Blowing three-goal leads in the knockout stages and shockingly exiting the tournament is not acceptable for a club like Barça. The team is mentally weak and there is no push from the manager. This is a club where not winning the double at the very least is considered a failure and the wounds are only salted when the team exits the CL in such a fashion.
Next to No Adaptability From Valverde
Valverde has not shown that he is capable of adapting to adversity. There have probably been about five to six countable occasions in his tenure where he has shown any type of change in system or adaptability. Other than that he has not learned from his mistakes. He has no plan B and his plan A is also not always effective. Relying on moments of individual brilliance from the players and hoping for the best cannot be the tactical setup for a Barcelona coach.
Under Valverde, the team is not hungry. They are reactive and passive. Proactive football has been the Barcelona way. After all the fiasco, Agusti Benedito, who tried to initiate the ‘Vot de Censura’ (Vote of Censure to replace the board of directors) a while back has come out and declared that perhaps it is time to try again. The scales are tipping towards a turbulent time for the Blaugrana. It is time for a change in mentality and if not then a change in staff.
Written by Aaryan Parasnis
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Photo credit to 7UPLAGI MEDIA ASPIRASI via Flickr