I noted the recent move by the Barcelona board with interest.
Putting pressure on Ernesto Valverde to commit himself to another year in the job, or not, by February was to be expected.
However, I’m left wondering if it was necessary to publicise their intentions to the media?
All it’s done has heightened any tensions surrounding Valverde’s tenure at a time when, frankly, the first team could do without it.
Distractions at any stage of the season are unwelcome, and more so when heading into the business end of a campaign.
We all expect that Barca will still be in the Copa del Rey by the end of the second month of the year, and we may have a good idea by that point too if we are to progress into the next stage of the Champions League.
The fight for La Liga will be hotting up as it always does around that time, so any potential bad news being levied at that point could damage the equilibrium of the side.
Lionel Messi, for one, has already come out and nailed his colours to Valverde’s mast, and it’s not hard to envisage that almost all of his team-mates will follow suit.
‼️ Lionel Messi has a special relationship with Ernesto Valverde, and would prefer the manager to stay with Barça come the end of the season.— Omar ️ (@Blaugranagram) December 29, 2018
Valverde has an optional year on his contract that he can make use of, and the Club awaits his final decision.
Aside from those fringe players that aren’t really getting a look in, Valverde is a much loved and respected figure. Both for his manner and his footballing nous.
Simply put, the players enjoy working under him.
However, should the coach decide that two years is more than enough, certain players may start thinking about their own futures, worrying about who might be next through the door, whether they’ll still be first choice in their position at the club etc.
They are genuine concerns but players shouldn’t really be concerning themselves with those worries three-quarters of the way through what we hope will be another successful season.
It may have a galvanising effect of course, as it did when Luis Enrique announced his own departure on March 1, 2017.
Though Barca would fall agonisingly short in La Liga, the immediate aftermath of his announcement saw a 5-0 win over Celta followed by the epic comeback against Paris Saint-Germain.
Ultimately, two league losses (Depor, Malaga) and no goals against Juve, saw silverware in two of the major competitions slip from our grasp.
I’ll take the point that I’m sure some will make; ‘they’re well paid footballers, they can just get on with it,’ but their earnings are hardly likely to affect their feelings.
If Valverde is thinking of taking a break, which seems a reasonable conclusion as he continues to swerve definitively answering questions about his intentions, surely it’s better for all concerned if he states those intentions now, and gets the board off his back at the same time.
Barcelona's Sergio Busquets gives signed shirt to Betis coach Quique Setien, boss tipped for Camp Nou. https://t.co/sQSPZBpxKt— FC Barcelona News (@Barca) November 13, 2018
A persistent line of questioning in press conferences - that will become very boring, very quickly - will be over and done with within a few weeks, before the ‘bigger games,’ and will have given the players time to digest what’s next at a less critical stage of the season.
The board will surely be sounding out potential replacements in any event, and surely a few weeks in the summer is long enough to cross the i’s and dot the t’s without making a song and dance of it during the campaign.
Quique Setien anyone?