Opinion: Why Barcelona should sack Ernesto Valverde by December, rather than wait till the end of the season
As impressive as it sounds, Barcelona fans are far from impressed with the style of football and the tactics that Valverde brings to the table. Most of Barca’s performances under him have been marked by underwhelming attacking displays, where they have had to depend desperately on Lionel Messi for creativity and inspiration.
In most games, there are only patches of the kind of flamboyant, attacking football that Barcelona is known for, while for large spells they struggle to create chances, or deal with the opposition pressure.
While in Laliga, they do manage to get over the line despite such unconvincing displays due to moments of individual magic from Messi, the Champions League demands a much higher standard of performance.
The greatest exposition of Valverde’s lack of tactical ability was the away match at Rome, last season, where Barcelona were dominated and humbled, 3-0. Throughout the match, they were camped in their own half struggling to get out of the intense pressure from Roma, and until the end, Ernesto Valverde could not make a single tactical change that could turn the tables in their favour.
Even in the recent matches, both in Laliga and the Champions League, fluent and impressive starts to matches have been followed by periods where the team bereft of ideas and looked up to Lionel Messi for bailing them out.
In every match, it seems that whenever there’s a tough situation, Valverde waits for someone to change the game, instead of reacting himself. While he got away with it last season, with Messi mostly being the decisive factor, this season, such lack of tactical nous has seen Barca get bested by teams even in Laliga, and they have had to pay the price with points.
Even in the match against Tottenham, which many consider being Barcelona’s best display this season, there was a period in the game where Spurs found momentum and cornered Barcelona, and while it was evident that a change in tactics and personnel was required, the substitution finally came as late as in the 84th minute. On another day, they might have even ended up dropping points at Wembley, and Valverde would have been responsible for it.
Another reason why performances have dipped under Ernesto Valverde is that he does not trust his full squad and hardly rotates the senior players. Suarez has been playing poorly for quite a while now, but he never gets benched or subbed off, to give other players like Dembele and Malcom a chance.
The same goes for Gerard Pique, as his defending has been surprisingly bad recently, but he still manages to start every game. Valverde’s disability to utilise the younger talents, by giving them match time over the underperforming ones not only hinders the development of the younger players but can also tire out the important players throughout the course of the season, which can cost the team at the business end of the season.
So instead of keeping Valverde till the season’s end, if his tactical approach does not show any improvements by December, Barcelona should certainly pull the trigger on him while the European knockout matches are still to be played.
Quique Setien, the manager of Real Betis could be one of the candidates to be one of the candidates to replace Valverde at the end of the season. Setien could be attracting much attention due to the fact that his style of play at Betis is similar to what Barcelona fans crave. He also managed to guide Betis to a sixth-place finish last season.
Arsene Wenger is seen as another potential replacement for Valverde. Wenger who recently stepped down after managing Arsenal for 22 years, is considered by many to be a tactical genius, and should he come to Barcelona, it would certainly be interesting to see the kind of tactics he brings to the table.
While rumours of those of those who could succeed Valverde still float, it is getting more and more clear with every match that a change in the managerial department is needed at Barcelona, lest they should end the season on a disappointing note, as they did after the quarter-final knockout in the Champions League last season.