Ernesto Valverde is a good coach. Of that, I’m convinced. His work at Athletic Club Bilbao and Valencia, his last two Spanish teams, is top notch. He has a string of successes in his CV, with very few disappointments.
This is the safest pick Barcelona has made for quite a while. Let’s recap, OK?
- Valverde - Extensive experience in La Liga in several top half clubs
- Luis Enrique - 1 good season at Celta, 1 very meh season at Roma, good times at Barcelona B
- Tata Martino - Never managed in Europe
- Tito Vilanova (RIP) - Never really been first team manager
- Pep Guardiola - Good times at Barcelona B and that’s it
- Frank Rijkaard - Got Sparta Rotterdam relegated, had one good tournament as Netherlands coach.
This isn’t to say more experience is always better, but clearly, we are talking about a coach with a ton more than the previous hires. One way that is good is you’re more likely to know what you’re getting into. The previous coaches in a lot of ways were riskier picks. Valverde at least, we know he won’t be a deer in the headlights.
However, less risk makes Valverde an unexciting pick at face value, which is why the fans greeted him with a collective shrug as much as with excitement.
Oscar Garcia, who manages Red Bull Salzburg, and Thomas Tuchel, who was fired by Borussia Dortmund, represented much riskier, but more exciting choices. The fact is that Garcia coaches in Austria, and Tuchel is being pursued by Southampton. Clearly, Barcelona are not alone among big clubs in not wanting to take the chance.
Which could, in the end, prove to be the wrong call. Or it could prove to be the right call. As much as you want to say you have all the answers, no one does. Imagine if Pep’s first season at Barcelona went the way it did at Manchester City. He may have been fired midway, despite his undisputed talent. You just never know.
For that reason, fans must back Valverde. He is competent and looks like an honorable man. With the right backing from the board... who knows?