Barcelona worsening under Ernesto Valverde

GRANADA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 21: Ernesto Valverde, head coach of FC Barcelona looks on prior to the la Liga match between Granada CF and FC Barcelona on September 21, 2019 in Granada, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
GRANADA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 21: Ernesto Valverde, head coach of FC Barcelona looks on prior to the la Liga match between Granada CF and FC Barcelona on September 21, 2019 in Granada, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

Ernesto Valverde is in way over his head at Barcelona and the team is paying the consequences.

Barcelona’s rocky start to the season continued suffering a well-deserved 2-0 defeat at Granada. The team lacked ideas from the start and not even introducing the likes of Lionel Messi and Ansu Fati after the half was enough for the Catalans to make a comeback.

The latest defeat is yet another poor performance for Barcelona on the road and one that has become the norm under Ernesto Valverde. In five games this season, Barcelona played three away games and lost two and drawn the other. They conceded five goals in those three matches and in those two losses, mustered only one shot on goal.

Against Granada, Valverde sent out a rotated side that included both Sergi Roberto and Ivan Rakitic as starters. The latter had been frozen out to start the season and the former simply is not good enough to start for a club of this magnitude.

Yet both did anyway and the results went as expected.

If it were simply one game then one could chalk it up as a bad day at the office. But Barcelona continue to have bad days at the office and it has become clear that Valverde’s side does not know how to play on the road.

In fact, it’s the first time since the Rikjaard era that they have failed to win in five consecutive away games. To make matters worse, it’s the first time they failed to win any of their last seven away matches since 2001.

However, it’s just not the poor results.

More from Everything Barca

Valverde does not seem to know how to handle the squad properly. He does not have the personality to sit those who need to sat and only does that to the younger players.

This game provided an excellent example. Junior Firpo started in place of an injured Jordi Alba. He was at fault for the first goal but looked no worse than anyone else after that. But since he made an error, Valverde was quick to give him the hook at the half.

Carles Aleña had a poor half in the opening game against Athletic Bilbao. He too was pulled at the half and has not played a single minute since. Only recently has he even made it to the squad list.

On the other side of the spectrum is the case of Luis Suarez. Suarez has struggled leading the attack for a number of seasons now. Yet he gets shot after shot after shot from the manager for no reason.

Nothing that he showed in the 90 minutes against Borussia Dortmund warranted a start against Granada. To no one’s surprise, he had another ineffective game and a lot of Barcelona’s attacks died at his feet.

Now, Antoine Griezmann seems to be heading to a similar fate as Philippe Coutinho with the Frenchman unable to provide a spark or an outlet in the attack. You ask yourself if perhaps the problem wasn’t Coutinho and isn’t Griezmann now. Perhaps the problem is the manager cannot get the best out of his players.

There is a reason why the veterans on the team wanted him to stay. The reason is he is unlikely to bench the veterans when they have a bad performance and that breeds a culture of complacency that is being reflected in both the league and Champions League.

The fact of the matter is that Ernesto Valverde should have been sacked at the end of last season or following the collapse at Liverpool. Instead, he was given another opportunity and Barcelona have regressed significantly.

The Messi-dependencia was always there before him but now it seems he is unable to structure his team when either the Argentine isn’t there or isn’t fully fit. Rather than play the younger players hungry to prove themselves, he reverts to type and relies on the older players who seem past it.

Next. Barcelona condemned to crushing 2-0 defeat by minnows Granada. dark

The Barcelona board are not going to sack Valverde so early in the season. For better or for worse, Barcelona is stuck with him and it will be up to him to find a solution. Unfortunately, so far, he cannot seem to find one and does not seem to know where to even look.