For almost any other club there would be no question that Ernesto Valverde would be staying with them- after all if Barcelona win the Copa del Rey this weekend then in 2 seasons he would have won 2 doubles, and 5 trophies, that is more than fantastic. And yet if Barcelona do sack Valverde whatever the outcome of the Spanish cup final there should be no surprises.
The reason is simple enough, under his guidance Barcelona have not been able to win the Champions League and it is the trophy alongside La Liga that teams such as Barcelona crave for each season.
Barcelona have not won the Champions League since 2015, which for most clubs wouldn’t be a problem, be for Barca they are not most clubs and each one of those 4 defeats since has hurt. Two of them were under the watch of Valverde and that is a huge reason why he could be given his marching orders at the end of this month.
Last season in the quarter finals of the Champions League Barcelona were paired with Roma and there wasn’t expected to be any problems. The first leg in Spain confirmed that as Barca beat Roma 4-1. But in Italy the players froze once Roma scored first and the Italians went on to claim a 3-0 victory and go through to the semi-finals on away goals. It was a huge shock, not so much to be beaten by Roma, but the way that it had happened. On top of that Roma were then knocked out by Liverpool a team who understand how European football works. Liverpool didn’t just beat Roma, mind. They pulverised them, much like Barcelona fans thought this is what Lionel Messi and co would do to Roma. Liverpool scored 7 against them en route to the final.
This season Barcelona had reached the semi-finals and were now paired with Liverpool, Roma’s conqueror’s from the season before. While Liverpool played well in the first leg of Spain some Messi magic ensured that Barcelona won that game 3-0. All is well, well no it wasn’t, had Valverde not learned to motivate his team differently? He was taking his side to Anfield one of the most difficult grounds and atmospheres for teams to go to. When Liverpool scored early the game seemed to drift away from Barcelona and of course we know the rest, Liverpool came back, won 4-0 and sent Barcelona and Valverde shockingly out again. Not the teams, the result, rinse and repeat.
Valverde is a really good coach, you don’t get the job at Barca if you are not. However he keeps coming up short when the games really matter in Europe. And so if he is sent packing it shouldn’t come as a shock. If nothing else Barcelona need a new face, a freshen up, and they could be set to get that this summer.