Valverde's third crisis at Barcelona
After the debacle at Roma and the earthquake that shook Barcelona at Anfield, Valverde is into his third critical moment at the club as they face another crossroads.
If there's one thing that defines Ernesto Valverde, it's his honesty. His comments after the brutal performance at Los Cármenes against Granada, he admited "I consider myself responsible." As Barça struggle through a horrible spell of away form, the manager didn't shirk: "when you lose, the least you can do is try to deserve the win....and we didn't deserve to win."
Their results are as bad as they've been in 25 years away from home and for a manager who finished last season with his future in the air, their start to the season has been a further blow.
It's Valverde's third season at Barcelona and his third critical moment. The manager who arrived in 2017 and forced into a difficult situation as Neymar clew the coop and the club were left wondering how to rebuild managed to do just that and in that first season, they didn't lose a game until the end of the season when the fell to Levante.
Roma debacle put Valverde on the edge
That season brought his first critical spell when they lost to Roma 3-0 in the Champions League second leg. Valverde was thinking then about making a move and it's believed that if they lost to Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final, Barcelona would have had a new manager in the summer. Barça won 5-0 and Valverde's future was safe as their confidence in the man on the bench returned.
They won the league again last season at a canter and they were on of the most reliable teams away from home with wins at Wembley against Spurs and at Old Trafford against United. But then Liverpool at Anfield happened. The 4-0 sent shockwaves through the club and left scars that still haven't healed. They would go on to lose the Copa del Rey final to Valencia and looked like Valverde was about to lose his job. It was Bartomeu who confirmed he would remain, however, after the assessed the market and saw no viable replacements.
But this current crisis has started long before the other two. It's September and Barcelona are on the brink after a woeful display against Granada that has been critcised from every aspect; work rate, tactics, team selection and their lack of a response after going down.
Suárez remains a shadow of himself away from home, Greizmann has played a peripheral role on the left and hasn't made an impact, Piqué has been booked four times in five games and that's not even to speak of Rakitic's seemingly terminal situation along with Busquets' poor form, Vidal's minute of madness and the disaster from the full-backs.
Barcelona played without soul on Saturday night and there has been too many bad news stories to start the season. He is a smart man with some good work done at the club with the integration of Ansu Fati along with giving other youngsters debut. But it's his third crisis in three years and this one might last longer than the last two unless Bartomeu makes a decision.
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