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Barcelona show signs of progress but doubts remain over Ernesto Valverde

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The lack of self-criticism of certain players & the manager’s crucial decision making ability continue to hinder this team

Valencia CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

After my previous article, Will Onerous October be a Hit or Miss for FC Barcelona?” my cousin jokingly asked if I could please go back to being that optimistic person who helped him see sunlight at the end of tunnels rather than thick fogginess. I told him I’d love nothing more but that it would depend on the team’s performances, Valverde’s tactics and his player management skills.

That was before the Champions League clash against Tottenham. Following the big win at Wembley my cousin texted me saying, “You see! It’s not all bad! We’re BACK”. I didn’t feel it was appropriate in that moment to tell him the win and Arthur were most certainly positive aspects but that our defense continues to be worrying as well Valverde’s lack in personality when it comes to benching players whose form is clearly below their usual standard.

I say all this because unfortunately, in this article I once again feel the need to vent my frustration towards el Txingurri. I wholeheartedly support him and his continuation at our club. Unlike many Cules, I don’t wish to see him get sacked, however, in recent weeks I seriously fail to understand his rationale when it comes to certain crucial (and in my eyes obvious) facets of the game.

Yesterday’s match against Valencia was most certainly an entertaining one. A draw would usually also be seen as a positive result in the hostile environment of Mestalla. Thankfully, there were constructive takeaways. Arthur was included in the starting eleven and Semedo is on his way to solidifying his starting spot as well.

However, what boggles my mind the most are the negative impressions, mainly because they are becoming reoccurring patterns. For example, can somebody please tell me just why the Barça manager waited until the 84th minute to make the first substitution when we so evidently needed fresh legs to get a second goal?

Suarez is a tireless workhorse but he himself admitted not being entirely fit before the match! The guy has knee problems, so why on earth would both (the 31-year-old!) Luis and Ernesto think he was fit enough to start, let alone play the entire 90 minutes of this crucial match against one of the toughest sides in Spain, when you have a (FINALLY) confident, goalscoring talented youngster on the bench in Dembele?

Also, what was the point of subbing in Rafinha in place of Arthur in the 88th minute? Granted, Alcántara did the best he possibly could but what serious game-changing impact can the poor guy have with three minutes left to play? Both Rafinha and Dembele were good subs to make but should have been made in the 60th or so minute if what Valverde was looking to resolve the situation and positively change the dynamic of the game.

In the post match press conference he justifies this decision by saying that he “did not see it clearly” referring to whether or not the changes were needed. This answer genuinely worries me. If that’s truly the case, I can’t help wonder what else he doesn’t see clearly.

Let’s forget for a second that Gerard Pique continues to have a free pass and is a guaranteed starter despite his current disastrous form. Let’s not mention that Sergio Busquets also had an unusually sloppy match and both he and the entire team uncharacteristically lost way too many balls. Let’s also continue to ignore that meanwhile the spirit of Malcom continues to be broken-down by entirely being left out of the squad.

If the only solution el Míster can come up with to try to score another goal is to take off two energizing bunnies in Coutinho and Arthur in the 84th and 88th minute, rather than say a visibly tired Rakitic and a not 100% healthy Luis Suarez, I seriously continue to fear for the future of this current squad.