It was a night to forget at Jeddah, where Diego Simeone’s men stunned Lionel Messi and his friends in the semi-final of Spanishcopa de Espana. The much anticipated El Clasico did not happen in the finals, but the Los Blancos outweighed Atleti, yet again to lift the first trophy of 2020. Surely, the celebration of Los Blancos did not satisfy Lionel Messi and the Barca camp. Someone had to digest the worse and Ernesto Valverde was the best option available.

If one says, temperamentally, Barca went on the back foot when Lionel Messi unnecessarily started a chaotic moment with the young lad Joao Felix before the half-time. It hampered the focus of the whole team and boosted the fighting spirit of Atleti to a great extent. The end result showed, who won when the matter was about showing the real intent!

Since that woeful night at Jeddah, the speculations of Valverde’s axing gained momentum. Barcelona started searching for their Zinedine Zidane. They approached Xavi, who declined their invitation and in the end, former Real Betis head coach Quique Setien has been appointed as the new manager of Barca and with that, the Valverde era ended in a tragic manner.

Valverde, who led Barcelona to consecutive La Liga titles in 2018 and 2019, ultimately paid the price for a lack of success in the Champions League.  More often in the crucial junctures of Europe’s top competition, Barcelona blew away chances to get knocked out. While the best boy of Barca continued to fail in those big matches, none questioned his temperament and abilities on the big occasions, but saving his status was much more necessary and thus, Valverde was made the scapegoat. Ask Gonzalo Higuain how it feels!

In teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona, winning the La Liga title is never enough. You need to win big. Otherwise, the outcomes would be poor. And the coaches always face very poor consequences. Santiago Scolari was sacked immediately after that exit against Ajax at home ground, whereas, none even thought that he was managing a young and fragile unit and deserved time to fix the problems after the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo. Solari deserved to complete the full season. His sacking was quite unfair.

Similarly, Valverde should have completed the season.  Valverde had a contract until the end of the season with an option for another year that no one anticipated activating. More than the manager, it is the duty of players to deliver on the field. Again, when a so-called alien is in a team, a team should win everything, isn’t it?

The talk is all about that stunning exit at Rome and Anfield. Well, if that is the reason then why was not Valverde sacked back then? What was Barca’s hierarchy thinking? Fishing in muddy waters, no?

Sacking a coach in such a fashion is nothing but insulting. Barca searched one new coach after another like a kid searching for his favourite toy in a shop in the past few days had been utterly humiliating, pathetic and childish. And which tells us, Bartomeu does his business in a brutal manner and does not care about the self-respect of others. In fact, most club bosses are such!

ESPN FC’s Graham Hunter said, “This is the man (Bartomeu) who was vice-president and consigliere to the regime when Eric Abidal, having been publicly promised he’d get a new contract the moment he was back ready to play after a liver transplant to beat cancer, was then unceremoniously shown the door as soon as he won his battle and got fit. This is also the man who sacked his director of football, Andoni Zubizarreta, halfway through a season in which his Zubizarreta-assembled squad would go on to win a glorious Treble culminating in the 3-1 Champions League final victory over Juventus.

Zubizarreta’s crime? In 2014, when the Camp Nou crowd booed the giant screen upon which members of the Barca board were congratulating Lionel Messi on scoring his 253rd La Liga goal, which made him the all-time top scorer in that competition, Bartomeu needed a sacrificial lamb so he could convince himself and the media that it was not he who was being booed. So, out with the Zubi-goose who had laid the golden eggs — in fact, half a dozen of them”.


Notice the word “sacrificial lamb” – a Barca policy, which has been going on and on and does not seem to stop for a minute. And, Valverde could be termed as one of Barcelona’s sacrificial lamb.

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