Barcelona have confirmed Ernesto Valverde as their new manager to replace Luis Enrique. People outside of La Liga may know little about Valverde who left his post at Athletic Bilbao for the Nou Camp hot seat, but he is a typical Barcelona appointment.
According to Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu:
Bartomeu: “Valverde has the ability, the judgement, the knowledge and the experience. He promotes the youth players and he has a Barça way”
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) May 29, 2017
Premier League fans, for example, might wonder why Barca did not go for a more ‘flashy’ name like Ronald Koeman or Mauricio Pochettino but the Catalan giants have specific criteria when choosing a manager.
Barca usually tend to appoint former players with strong ties to the club and who follow the philosophy. Past examples of this fact include Johan Cruyff, Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique. Generally, it has proved to be a successful formula for the Blaugrana.
Valverde is a former Barcelona player himself who played under the great Johan Cruyff. However, it is at Athletic Bilbao where he is considered a true legend and he began his coaching career at the San Mames Stadium.
Current Bilbao coach Valverde back when he was a Barcelona player pic.twitter.com/ektseF2ijh
— . (@BarcaSnacks) May 29, 2015
The former Barcelona and Bilbao forward worked his way up from the youth academy to being appointed head coach of the Basque club in the 2003/2004 season where he guided them to fifth position and a place in the UEFA Cup.
Valverde then had a spell in charge of Espanyol who he reached the UEFA Cup final with before losing to Sevilla on penalties and two different spells at Olympiacos where he won the league twice with the Greek powerhouse.
The only blot on his record was when he was sacked by Villarreal in the 2009/2010 season leaving the Yellow submarine in tenth place in La Liga. However, it has to be noted he replaced Manuel Pellegrini who looked over the greatest period in the club’s history. A hard act to follow with huge expectation and a team arguably past their peak.
Valverde returned to Bilbao in the 2013/2014 season after a short stint with Valencia and in his first season back guided Bilbao to Champions League qualification. In his second season, the Rojiblancos reached the Copa Del Rey final before he lost out to future club Barcelona in the game that included that great Lionel Messi solo goal.
He did, however, avenge that defeat at the start of the following season by defeating the Catalans 5-1 on aggregate in the Spanish Supercup – the equivalent of the Community Shield in England. That was the Basque club’s first trophy in 31 years.
Valverde will inherit the greatest front three in world football in Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez but as seen this season, Barca are in need of a major revamp in defence and midfield. The Barcelona board have put that job in what they believe to be a safe pair of hands in Ernesto Valverde.
Valverde has a range of managerial experience at various clubs but now he is in charge of one of world football’s heavyweights.