Benvingut Ernesto Valverde, aka “#valverdeout”

As Luis Enrique leaves, a coach derided in cyber Barça land for not having a philosophy, not working with youth players and being stubborn, tactically naive, etc, etc. what coach would people want to follow him?

What if someone said, here is a coach who was lauded by the late Johan Cruijff, who called him one of the best and most exciting coaches in Spain. What if this same coach took the reins at a club with a restrictive transfer policy and, relying on home-grown talent and youth players, forged a team that was always in the top seven, and grabbed a European spot this summer?

This coach started in the youth division at a club, helped that team earn promotion, helped another team to the UEFA Cup then his next team to the league championship. Then he took over the club from which he would be hired, led it to Champions League and a beatdown of the mighty FC Barcelona in the Spanish SuperCopa.

#valverdeout

Ernesto Valverde is the new coach of FC Barcelona, and he brings a history with the club as a player, as well as a connection to the iconic Cruijff. He is a calm, logical choice, as noted in this post. Valverde is a money manager’s choice, one greeted in the hotbed of Barça Twitter with a resounding, “Noooo!” Or at best, “Meh.”

Tuchel? Yep, even though he hasn’t been able to get along with his management at Mainz or Dortmund, doesn’t have Spanish and his Dortmund team was noted for a certain defensive — capriciousness. Exciting? Sure. That team is third in the Bundesliga, 18 points off the top of the table, and didn’t have a chance in European play this year. Ah. Results don’t matter.

Oscar Garcia? An even more exciting choice for the hipsters, the man who managed Red Bull Salzburg to a league title, just like the four previous dudes who ran the Bayern Munich of Austria. All the money, all the talent. What do we know about Oscar Garcia? Resigned from an Israeli club, citing personal reasons. Led a Brighton & Hove team to defeat in the English promotion playoff semis. Returned to Maccabi, then left again, this time for political reasons. Interim at Watford before stepping down due to health reasons, before taking over at Watford.

Does anyone really think, the charm of a person with such deep Barça roots aside, Oscar Garcia would be able to handle the shitshow that is running Barça?

Of course Valverde is uninspiring. So was Frank Rijkaard. So was Pep Guardiola. So was Luis Enrique. The coach of FC Barcelona is a job for which no man born of mortal loins will ever be good enough. Valverde is the best choice available for many reasons.

— As the core of the team eases into its dotage, they need a coach who will be an evolution, not a revolution. “Run, you bastards, run?” Not hardly.
— The next coach will have a number of talented youth players from the club’s academies from which to choose. The stage will need to be set for the next coach, who will be appointed by the next president and board.
— The team needs a coach with a clear vision, which Athletic had, even as the team’s away form was suspect.
— The team needs a coach who can deal with the crap surrounding the job with calm and equanimity.

These things all point to Valverde.

Coaches and transfers are like “Whee!” psychic zones where anything goes. A German with no Spanish languuage and a history of management strife is perfect for a team that is a hotbed of politics and crap. Sure. But as with players, the coach you never have is the coach that you need, so of course anyone but Valverde will be the one.

Rijkaard got sideeye, Guardiola got sideeye, every Barça coach since Guardiola has gotten not just sideeye but outright disdain, because they weren’t Guardiola. Neither is Valverde. We all watched Athletic play and admired their structure, mental strength and willingness to fight like lions. We groused because their defensive structure made them so difficult to play against, as their coach got the most from players who were in almost every case, just a step or two down from the best that Liga had to offer. And now that coach is ours.

There will be a lot to unpack, from transfers to working style to how Valverde will interact with the team and the board. Like every person, he deserves a chance. People aren’t excited? At this stage of the team’s cycle, this isn’t a time for an exciting choice. It’s the time for a grownup, a respected manager with a flair for youth. Know anybody like that?

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In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

17 Comments

  1. ChaoticReaper
    May 29, 2017

    Very excited for this new era. #Lucho Out

  2. PPos
    May 29, 2017

    Well it’s official. I think Valverde will be a good choice. He knows how to build teams that know how to defend and that’s what we need. As we saw this past season, defense wins you championships. If we had been solid at the back, Juventus might not have scored three on us and Malaga probably wouldn’t have beaten us.

    I hope that the reliance on MSN ends. As Madrid proved this season, all players need to feel that they have a solid chance of starting (unless your name is James Rodriguez.) A team has to be that a team not the three star forwards and the rest that’s not football. I love MSN don’t get me wrong, but it’s having their name written on to the staring lineup is isn’t healthy.

    I love Barça to death and I always will and I’m gonna admit. I was a huge skeptic when Pep took the reigns, but he proved me wrong, oh he proved me wrong, I will take a more reasonable approach this time. We’ll see how it all pans out. Messi won his fourth Golden Boot tying Cristiano Ronaldo.

    #ValderdeIN

    • georgjorge
      May 30, 2017

      Very well said.

      Oh, and Suarez – who appeared to have a mediocre season – also ahead of Ronaldo in goals scored in La Liga? Gives us some perspective.

      • Davour
        May 30, 2017

        Yes, but just as with Ronaldo (say, visavi Messi), the numbers don’t tell the whole tale… To me, Suarez often did not play well and disrupted attacks, while not making up for it to the same extent as he has before. Still a massive player; just think he can do better.

        • Davour
          May 30, 2017

          But continuing with the CR analogy, I’m sure Suarez would benefit from a little more rest next season – considering his quite demanding style of play. Alcacer has shown potential lately, and should be able to fill in when needed, to have Luis fresh when the going gets tough.

    • kneowell
      May 30, 2017

      Until you sign anyone better, we will always rely on MSN, even valverde in his former club hugely depended on Willian’s pacy attack. when you have players as good as MSN, relying on them is inevitable. Pep had eto, Henry. Messi, which became Pedro, villa, Messi, now it’s MSN, all outscoring their predecessors. MSN has been quite consistent and our problem don’t lie with them, our midfield and the right side of defence and attack is where we have a problem, valverde has his job cut out for him. Talents win games, team work and collaboration wins championship not just defence cos we have won quite a lot of championships without a sturdy juve-like defence, don’t even think we ever had one since I can remember. Though I agree with you that it isn’t healthy to always have them on the starting line up, Paco does well in stead of suarez, Messi is unhappy sitting on the bench, Neymar is the wild card, finding a substitute for him? Difficult, though an injury free turan does well too

  3. Half and Half
    May 30, 2017

    I don’t think Valverde is the worst appointment that could be made, I have some reservations though. But he’s here, deserves a chance, and I hope he does well.

    Personally I had hoped that despite the difficulties that we would have gone big for Pochettino, but it wasn’t to be.

  4. Kd
    May 30, 2017

    I dont think Pochetiino was a realistic choice. His very physical/running style pf play may not have been too conducive to our slightly older stars. Plus he has built a project from the ground up at Tottenham and now is his time to reap the dividends. Why would he join a team like Barca midway through the project. And finally he is an Espanol through n through. In fact I would go even further and say that I dont see him ever managing Barca.
    As far as Valverde is considered, I for once have been rooting for him for a while. Even when we were looking to bring in Enrique. And I love what he has done with Bilbao. He has over achieved with a limited squad there.
    As long as he keeps Messi and the rest of the big names on his side, this appointment has all the hallmarks of a successful appointment.
    After a demanding coach if we can have a coach who is slightly easier to work with, it can help Barca come to the fore. See Ancelotti’s appointment for reference or even Martino’s first 6-7 months after Tito/Guardiola.. Hence really excited.
    Go Valverde!!

    • CentreBackJockey
      May 30, 2017

      Thanks for the link Kxevin. A very nice article which gives insight into what Valverde may be like. His other passion being photography and art sort of resembles mister Pep who liked literature if I’m not mistaken.

      He does seem to tick all the boxes and offer a safe option out of all the coach we realistically had to choose from. He may not be a big name across Europe but surely there’s for him to sgow what he can do.

      I can’t help but envision what we may look like next season.

        • CentreBackJockey
          May 30, 2017

          Hahaha the new anthem for the Valverde era just to annoy everyone.

    • Davour
      May 30, 2017

      Just logged in to share that very same article! A very nice read to give a little perspective on Valverde as a person and as coach. From this presentation, he appears to be quite a logical choice. And, really, I can’t for the life of me name a better option that would also be available (and even then, no one who would be streets ahead). I hope people take a step back and let him handle this – criticism should not get ahead of itself, or it just becomes slander and bullshit.

      He seems a sophisticated and likeable man, with precisely the kind of socially intelligent squad management that is needed at Barca right now, as well as creative training sessions and – not least important – a balanced approach.

      Good luck, mister!

  5. luisthebeast
    May 30, 2017

    I cant really be objective about Ernesto because when he was here in Greece i really watched a lot games of his team and all big journalists here,after Barca hired him,wrote articles and everyone praise him.
    I have no idea what he ll do in our Crazy club,the pressure is huge,the coach here never have total freedom and i am not a prophet.
    What i know is that he is a better coach than Lucho in some critical,for me,aspects of the management.
    Better tactician,better man management,better with youths.

    • Could you please enlighten us all how his team did consistently well in the Greek league. did he stick to a same philosophy but making minor adaptations according to individual matches etc,

  6. Dar_vincy
    May 31, 2017

    If the Azpilicueta rumour is anything to go by, we would surely be making a prudent purchase. Seemed to be the most ideal option for us. Defensively sturdy; exudes the kind of discipline that is flagrantly non-existent in our defensive ranks. I gladly would pay 30m for him.

  7. They-said-thered-be-jetpacks
    June 1, 2017

    Valverde will be great he has the ideas, the personality and the experience…it’s now up to the players and the culerverse to give him the respect that he deserves

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