The club announced on Friday, 15th February, that an agreement had been reached to extend Ernesto Valverde’s contract for another one-season stint as head coach, with the option for one more season (2020/21) embedded in the contract.
In view of this, club President, Josep Maria Bartomeu tweeted; “By renewing Ernesto Valverde’s contract, we are guaranteeing the continuation of a coach and person who so excellently represents the FC Barcelona value and our way of understanding football. We are sharing a winning project for Barça”.
By renewing Ernesto Valverde’s contract we are guaranteeing the continuation of a coach and person who so excellently represents the FC Barcelona values and our way of understanding football. We’re sharing a winning project for Barça pic.twitter.com/wAaGeorjW5— Josep Maria Bartomeu (@jmbartomeu) February 15, 2019
Ernesto Valverde was appointed head coach of Barça in the summer of 2017, and despite the woes he suffered due to Neymar’s unexpected departure, he still managed to win the double in his maiden season.
A feat that many thought was impossible prior to the commencement of the season, with the Spanish Supercopa thrashing at the hands of bitter rivals, Real Madrid, further strengthening the claim.
Winning the double without one of the fearsome MSN trident, that had been the mainstay in previous seasons, combining majestically under former boss Luis Enrique, to churn out success for the club is certainly bewildering. His side were unbeaten in the league till the 37th game week fixture against Levante.
However, a disappointing campaign in the Champions League saw the former Athletic Bilbao coach get some stick from irritated Cules, who bemoaned the lack of Champions League Semi-final berth for three consecutive seasons dating back from the 2015/16 campaign.
A disastrous quarter-final capitulation against Roma in the Champions League led many to question the mental acuity and aptness of Ernesto Valverde after Barça had thrashed Roma in the reverse fixture 4-1 few weeks prior.
Despite clinching the double that season, most Cules couldn’t bear to live with the agony that Ernesto Valverde couldn’t goad a reaction from his men during the Rome capitulation.
In simple terms, the fact that the club’s most fierce rival, Real Madrid, marched on to a third successive Champions League title was a further dent in Valverde’s incredible first season.
This current campaign, with the UCL the main priority of the club, Barça’s sqaud has been bolstered by good signings with Arthur, Vidal, Lenglet and Malcom arriving in the summer and also Murillo in the winter to lead the club to UCL glory.
A resurgence in form by Dembele has also added to the plethora of talents jostling for first team action and also an improved squad depth ready to compete in all three competitions.
Over the course, concerns have been raised about the 55-year-old, with some sections of fans not so happy about Valverde’s cautious approach and the inability to set-up his side to be dominant in games, playing eye-catching football like in previous seasons, the Barça-way they say.
Ernesto Valverde’s tactical astuteness had also been called into question when he faced equally good tacticians like Quique Setien, who led a confident Real Betis side that out-played and out-scored Barça at their own backyard.
In a similar dimension, some fans were of the view that, his renewal was a bolt from the blue and that the club could have waited till the end of the season to give a proper assessment.
Contrary to the aforementioned, others shared the view that, he’s the man for the job who can spearhead FC Barcelona to yet another UCL triumph. In 96 games, Ernesto Valverde boasts of an incredible 65 wins, 22 draws and only 9 defeats.
A staggering statistic that glorifies the Spaniard signalling also to Cules that they should, perhaps, have no fear whatsoever seeing him in charge.
Whether Ernesto Valverde can amass the treble this season for Barça remains to be seen, and for those that are critical of Valverde, things for now gets more blur. It won’t hurt to be supportive and rallying behind the former Bilbao manager is all there is to do.
FC Barcelona play host to Real Valladolid on Saturday as they aim to take a grip at the summit of La Liga Santander before the team travels to France in midweek for Champions League action against Lyon.
CREDIT: BRIGHT N.B ANTWI