Barça-Valverde, divorce recorded. Released by its leaders, criticized for his lackluster and pragmatic game despite two Liga wins (2018, 2019), coach Ernesto Valverde was sacked by FC Barcelona on Monday January 13, and replaced by technician Quique Setien.
The situation could not last: disavowed by the fans and internally, Valverde, already on the hot seat in the hollow of autumn, paid dearly for the defeat of Barça in the semifinals of the Spanish Super Cup against Atlético Madrid (3-2) Thursday, his last match spent on the Catalan bench.
The club and the technician "reached an agreement to put an end to the contract which united them", said Barça Monday evening, adding in a separate press release to have "found an agreement" with Quique Setien "until 30 June 2022 ".
Blaugranas leaders, gathered Monday afternoon at Camp Nou to decide the future of Valverde, have decided to entrust the keys of the team to this ex-midfielder from Atlético Madrid (3 selections for the Spanish team) in 1985-1986) which notably led Las Palmas and Betis Seville.
He will sign his contract on Tuesday and will be presented to the press at 1:30 p.m. GMT at Camp Nou. He will be on the bench on Sunday at Camp Nou for the reception of Granada, his first match at Barça.
Valverde, "Ant" too discreet
With Setien, will Barça finally wake up from this nightmarish week? Eliminated in the Supercup, deprived of its striker-star Luis Suarez for four months (operated on the right knee), the club blaugrana must now face a change of coach, after the disillusionment Valverde.
What went wrong between the "Txingurri" (ant, in Basque language) and Barça, so that the Catalan club decided to fire a coach in high season for the first time since January 2003 and the dismissal of Louis Van Gaal? "Its philosophy of play and its functioning are similar to those of Barça", however had commented in 2017 the president of Barça, Josep Maria Bartomeu, about Valverde during his presentation.
There are many reasons for this divorce. First, Valverde paid the two major setbacks in the Champions League, the remontadas against Roma in the quarterfinals in 2018, and Liverpool in the semifinals in 2019.
Then, his "pragmatic" game, far from the "tiki-taka" of the glorious Guardiola years, did not convince, and his lack of results on the European level (despite two Liga won in 2018 and 2019) made spot, next of 9 titles out of 13 possible gleaned in three seasons by his predecessor, Luis Enrique.
"The little bridges, the feints and the passing of the legs are a bit like the Chantilly of football. It is not an end, just means to achieve what is for me the real pleasure of this game: victory ", explained Valverde in an interview with So Foot magazine in 2013.
"A thread connects Guardiola to Setien"
Despite the good results of Barça obtained this season - leader of Liga tied with Real Madrid -, a change had to intervene to return as quickly as possible its "DNA" to the Catalan club.
It will be the mission of Quique Setien, disciple of Louis van Gaal and technician recognized in Spain for his sense of the beautiful game, which notably rammed the pawn to the Argentinian Mauricio Pocchetino for the position, declined by the legend Xavi.
"There is a thread that links Guardiola to Setien," said Marc Bartra, a defender who went through Barça and Bétis, in September 2018 to the newspaper El Pais. "In this Betis (by Setien), I found the training I was following with Guardiola and Luis Enrique," he added.
Despite this mutual love, Quique Setien, the last coach to win at Camp Nou (4-3 November 11, 2018 with Betis), will not escape the need for immediate results, despite the absence in attack - due to injury - Suarez until mid-May and Ousmane Dembélé until the end of February.
It will begin on February 25, where Setien will plunge into the deep end with, as the first match of the Champions League, a decisive first leg against Naples, after the European disappointments of Valverde ... and, already, a clasico the hottest return against Real Madrid on March 1.
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