Every relationship, whether personal or professional, has a shelf life.
There’s a period of time where everything is rosy in the garden, and nothing can detract from it, but once things start heading down a slippery slope, there’s often no way back.
At Barcelona just now, the cracks are readily appearing, and there’s every reason to suspect that this current season will be Ernesto Valverde’s last at the helm.The latest revelations from Gerard Pique, that Valverde has suggested he knew nothing about, clearly drives a wedge between the coach and his squad.
Pique announced that he and other (unnamed) members of the first team squad were willing to defer their salary payments in order that Neymar could be re-signed.
It’s fairly easy to deduce that captain, Leo Messi, and Luis Suarez would’ve been two more players involved, given how well they dovetailed with the Brazilian whilst he was at the club.
But where does that leave Valverde and the authority he should be wielding over the dressing room?
It has been said well before now that the senior players at the club were dictating things, something that Messi has had to deny on more than one occasion, but Pique’s words do hint a situation that is clearly untenable.
From a playing perspective, even though it’s been Barca’s worst La Liga start for 25 years, they still find themselves up at the top after a shaky few games.
In Valverde’s two previous seasons he’s shown that once his team get the bit between their teeth, they will take some dislodging.
It’s only in Europe where there tends to be an issue.
Nothing less than victory in the Champions League final will do this year. Supporters, rightly or wrongly, now expect the delivery of La Liga as a bare minimum.
And it’s true that a club of Barca’s stature shouldn’t have to wait five years – with Messi still in his prime – in order to add to their European tally.
Even if Valverde were to deliver the longed-for silverware, the squad needs freshening up, and the tactics need to be tweaked.
The Basque is capable of doing so, but the time does feel right for a complete change of direction.
Despite how his legacy might be remembered, in that he was far too conservative for the Blaugranes, his win percentage and the amount of trophies won will stand the test of time.
Whether or not he adds to that by the end of this season, he can at least go out with his head held high, if indeed that’s what happens.