Ernesto Valverde – will they like him?

Ernesto Valverde. FC Barcelona

Barcelona announced the name of the new head coach. Ernesto Valverde will head the Catalan superclub. In previous blog we discussed Mourinho — great and well-known coach. Now, “” talks about a specialist who deserves a great challenge.

The “Ant”

Ernesto Valverde acquired his nickname more than thirty years ago from the famous Basque coach Javier Clemente. Valverde moved to Espanyol from the Sestao Sport. He looked so small because of his height (167 centimeters) and the slackness that Clemente nicknamed him with affectionate Basque word “Txingurri” – “Ant”. Ernesto played at the position of the extreme striker. He established himself as an exceptionally hardworking player, thus confirming the correctness of the chosen nickname assigned to him so far.

Playing for Barcelona

After two years in Espanyol, Johan Cruyff called Ernesto Valverde to Barcelona. Till today Ernesto considers cooperation with him as one of the most important milestones of his career. Basque adopted the philosophy of football identity from the great Dutchman. At the beginning of the coaching career Valverde tried to copy Cruyff. Then he experienced a professional evolution. However, he still believes that the basis of each coach’s work should be a specific football idea with the rest built around it. Ernesto could not play in Barcelona because of frequent injuries. But he won the Cup of Spain and the Cup Winners’ Cup – the only trophies in his playing career.

Ernesto Valverde — Photographer

Just at the time of performance for Barcelona Ernesto Valverde found his main passion outside of football. Injuries did not allow him to play football, and the “Ant” wanted a distraction from sad thoughts. Therefore, he enrolled in the school of photographic arts and bought his first professional camera. It is known that Valverde is very serious about his hobby and seriously thought about becoming a professional photographer after parting with soccer career. However, football did not let him go. By the way, his younger brother – Mikel Valverde is a well-known artist, illustrator and comic books author in Spain.

Two defeats in the finals of the UEFA Cup

Valverde suffered two big disappointments in Espanyol. He lost twice in the UEFA Cup finals – first as a player, and almost twenty years later as a coach. In both cases, the opponent was luckier in the penalty shootout. In 1988, the decisive battle consisted of two meetings. Espanyol won 3-0 at home, but Bayer responded with a symmetrical result in Leverkusen and then pulled out a lucky lottery ticket. Ernesto played the first winning game but did not appear on the field in Germany due to injury. In 2007, Valverde’s team recouped twice in a duel with the Sevilla but Catalans failed in the penalty series.

Opponent of fair-play

Ernesto Valverde does not hesitate to talk about what he does not like, even if it contradicts the generally accepted canon. From the filing of Ernesto, Espanyol became the club protesting against the fair play. This refers to knocking the ball out of the field if the opponent’s player is lying on the lawn. Valverde was furious with imitating injuries and time delaying along with other unsporting tricks. As you know, now only the judge decides to suspend the meeting because of a footballer’s injury. That means, Valverde’s opposing opinion became the norm.

Conqueror of Greece

Basque mentor’s successful work with Espanyol attracted attention of the Greek grandee. Olympiacos made the right choice. They became champions under his tutelage. Valverde won the Greek Cup and then went to Villarreal. There he failed to fulfill his ideas, but Olympiacos welcomed him back with open arms. Ernesto repaid with two more championship titles and one cup.

Barcelona considered Ernesto Valverde earlier

Ernesto could have been with Barcelona four years ago. The club management sought out a mentor to replace Tito Vilanova. Valverde was among the main candidates, but then Gerardo Martino beat him with the help of powerful patronage from within the team. Ernesto was not upset and took Athletic Bilbao for the second time in his coaching career. Ernesto worked there for four years, until a new invitation to Barcelona.

Different tactics from Ernesto Valverde

Barcelona under Luis Enrique began to learn tactical flexibility too late. Also, dramatic changes in the game came at a time when Lucho already knew about his departure from the coaching bridge at the end of the season. Under the direction of Valverde, Barcelona will definitely become more intense and passionate. For sure, summer preparation will be seriously different from what was in previous years under Guardiola, Martino, Vilanova and Luis Enrique. In “” opinion, Valverde’s style is somewhat similar to Klopp. Barcelona should seriously add to the work without the ball. It’s not just about setting up defense. First of all, Valverde will establish aggressive play for Catalans so even Messi, Suarez and Neymar will have to run. Will they like it?

Ernesto Valverde — Pragmatic romantic

For certain, Valverde won’t make a revolution in Barcelona. Ernesto strives for balanced and maximally productive actions at every moment of the match. If Barcelona does not work well in defense, then it needs to be corrected. However, the Basque expert will not break attacking play. He welcomes improvisation and non-standard solutions. Tactically Ernesto Valverde adheres to the schemes familiar to the Catalans – 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3. Ernesto likes swiftness on the flanks. He counts on creative midfielders in the center of the field and positions the line of defense higher. Ernesto Valverde aims at the maximum result, he is scrupulous but in his choice of means. Barcelona players should not experience discomfort, and the audience – boredom.


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