Barcelona has a new coach, his name is Quique Setien. He signed a two and a half years contract to replace the embattled Ernesto Valverde. Setien who has not hidden his admiration of Johan Cruyff and his style of football appeared perfect for the role of giving instructions at the dressing room. The former Real Betis coach has the club’s philosophy and he is poised to win where Valverde failed, though it’s a long shot based on hope, the realities may play the other way round.
Meanwhile, it was a sad day for Barcelona coach, Ernesto Valverde, as he was informed by the club that his services are no longer needed at Camp Nou. But his sadness brought joy to millions of fans who have wanted the announcement for a long. “FC Barcelona deserves better” the say.
The failures that ousted Valverde
About three seasons ago, when Valverde was hired to lead the Catalans, he didn’t see his career ending this way. A bit of celebration and then, sadness and revolt from disappointed fans trailed part of his time as the head coach of the Catalan giants. And when you are at the helm of affairs in Barcelona, you know better than give the fans reasons to complain.
In 2017/18 season, it was a jolly ride for both parties in domestic and champions’ leagues, until the journey to Rome, where the wind blew and exposed the lump behind the fowl. Barcelona had 3 1 advantage, a good lead they needed to defend to secure a place in the champions league final. It was a good bet to the fans, no way Roma was going to overturn a first leg 3 1 lead, it’s impossible; after all, the team is Barcelona.
It was at the end of 93 minutes at the Stadio Olimpico that reality set in; hopes dashed, dreams shattered, and bets were lost. AS Roma did the unthinkable, they pulled the wolf power and turned the table. It was an unforgettable night, and the memory hurts the Cules to the pleasure of their rivals.
Though there were good times, at the end of 2017/18 season, Valverde delivered la liga and Copa de Rey, a pain reliever that somehow assuaged the bitter memory of Rome, by giving the fans something to celebrate and be happy about.
When the season started in August 2018, the club, the team, and the fans were all armed with hope of regaining what was lost, the Champions League trophy. Even Lionel Messi dared to make the promise that the team will bring it back to Camp Nou. But the hope and promise were responsibilities resting on the man who wouldn’t be in the pitch, but would take responsibility for anything that happens.
Barcelona made progress, beating Chelsea to face Liverpool in the semi-final was something the fans needed to keep their hope alive. Though the road to Madrid was still far away, Liverpool was an obstacle that needed to be removed to get closer. In the first leg of the encounter between Barcelona and the English side at Camp Nou, it was a thrilling display of the beautiful game. Barcelona was commanding the play and scoring goals. At the end of ninety minutes, the Catalans appeared to have sealed their place in the final with a 3 0 win over Liverpool – so everyone thought until the night of the second leg in Anfield.
The Liverpool vs. Barcelona match happened to be the most disappointing and impressive comeback in recent times: Disappointing to Barcelona and Impressive to Liverpool. At the end of the 90 minutes Liverpool has managed to cancel their three goals deficit and was going for the win. And the winner happened in the quickest way possible (Origi took the corner quickly) and there was jubilation for the winning goal against Barcelona.
It was a repetition of what happened in Rome a year ago. So no lesson was learnt and no trophy would be won. The devastation of the 2019 champions league season would later hunt Barcelona for a long time if not forever. The trolls on social media were something the fans couldn’t hold off, and pains went along with it.
The anger and disappointment were bulging out from the heart to the mouth; there were #ValverdeOut protests now and then by fans. But the club was patient; the coach has won two league trophies and deserves to be respected. In May 2019, there was yet another chance for the coach to appease the club and fans, the Spanish Supercup. But it went the way of others; Valencia beat Barcelona to it, having done so in the Copa del Rey final which gave them the cup over Barcelona.
Since then, it has been a struggle for the coach to win the confidence of the board and that of fans. The dwindling performance became less than average as the poor outing in the just concluded Spanish Supercup in Saudi Arabia has shown. Barcelona didn’t make it to the final, they lost to Atletico Madrid. It was as if any time the club gets close to a trophy, they put up their worst performance. Although Valverde doesn’t play in pitch, he plays in the training pitch and in the dressing room, telling players what to do and what not to do, with the full authority to punish any who doesn’t go by his rules.
In the end, Barcelona has had enough, the need for new hands and fresh ideas were communicated, Ernesto Valverde lost his job and Quique Setién got his.