Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Barcelona opens new chapter with Ernesto Valverde, another Cruyff connection
by Mike Woitalla, July 13th, 2017 9:47PM
Subscribe to Soccer World Daily

TAGS:  barcelona, international


By Mike Woitalla

Barcelona, which started its preseason training on Wednesday, arrives in the USA next week for three games, beginning with a July 22 match against Juventus in New Jersey. That will be Barcelona’s first game with new coach Ernesto Valverde in charge. Who?

Indeed, Valverde isn’t well known outside of Spain, where he most recently coached Athletic Bilbao for four seasons after stints with Valencia, Villarreal and Espanyol, before starting out at Athletic Bilbao, where he had spent the bulk of his playing career.

And in Spain, “You will never hear a bad word said about Ernesto Valverde,” wrote longtime Spanish coach Pako Ayestaran in The Independent -- a refrain that is often heard about the 53-year-old who also coached Greece’s Olympiacos in 2010-12.

Barcelona appointed Valverde to replace Luis Enrique, who announced last March that his third season would be his last.

Valverde does have a Barcelona connection. His 14-year-playing career included two seasons at Camp Nou, arriving the same season Johan Cruyff became its coach.

"It was kind of a revolution, a lot of new players, and above all because Cruyff came," Valverde said. "It was a new way of playing. I remember it perfectly. It was the first step of everything that would come after."

Valverde got limited playing time, scoring eight goals in 22 La Liga games but was part of the Barcelona squad that won the 1989 UEFA Cup Winners Cup and 1990 Copa del Rey.

“I’ve always maintained relationships with people here,” said Valverde, who in 2015 guided Athletic Bilbao to its first trophy in 31 years with a 5-1 aggregate win over Barcelona.

In 2014, he qualified Athletic Bilbao for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in 16 years.

He coached Espanyol, La Liga’s other Barcelona-based club, to a runner-up finish in the 2007 UEFA Cup final. At Olimpiacos, he won three Greek league titles and two league cups.

Under Enrique, Barcelona won two La Liga titles and one Champions League title, but won neither last season. Valverde, who signed a two-year contract, will be expected to win at least one of them.

“I’d love to win both of them,” he said.

A Decade of Barcelona Coaches
2014-17 Luis Enrique: 2 La Liga, 1 Champions League, 3 Copa del Rey, 1 Club World Cup
2013-14 Gerardo Martino: no major titles
2012-13 Tito Vilanova: 1 La Liga
2008-2012 Pep Guardiola: 3 La Liga, 2 Champions League, 2 Copa del Rey, 2 Club World Cup

Veteran Barcelona defender Gerard Pique says winning isn't enough.

"Our philosophy is not only to win, but win playing well," Pique said. "We have players for that and it's what we try to do every game. This is a show, and people go to enjoy it. It's not about just winning 1-0 and playing defensively the whole game."

During his spell at Espanyol, Cruyff praised Valverde’s approach:

"His work is more than excellent. If you watch Espanyol play it's good to watch … trying to play in a way people can enjoy, because that's what soccer's for."

When Valencia hired Valverde, Cruyff said: "It's a great selection by Valencia. When he was a player he was very intelligent and he always showed me his interest in soccer and learning. He's one of the most outstanding and promising coaches in Spanish soccer."

Cruyff, who also coached Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, died last year. But his influence at Barcelona lives on.

  1. David V
    commented on: July 14, 2017 at 8:58 a.m.
    this article just proves that the USA soccer community, for the most part, continues to major on the minors... it knows EPL, it is ignorant of La Liga (LFP)
  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: July 14, 2017 at 11:12 a.m.
    Totally agree David! I loved Pique's comment also. US soccer fans and media throw around the term 'the beautiful game' but totally forget it when analyzing and evaluating actual teams, players, and games. How often have you heard an announcer or read a columnist refer to a 'beautiful' pass or move? This is why I love to listen to Ray Hutson. Despite his tendency for excess, he is one of the very few announcers who point out the beautiful and exceptional moves during the run of play -- even if a goal doesn't result.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now



Recent Off The Post
James Rodriguez gets fresh start at Bayern Munich     
After the 2014 World Cup, Real Madrid spent $90 million for then 22-year-old Colombian James Rodriguez, ...
History is on Osorio's side    
Two years ago, Mexico beat Jamaica to win the Gold Cup and within 48 hours its ...
Infantino again under the spotlight for committee moves    
Hopes and expectations of FIFA reform under president Gianni Infantino have taken another setback. The Guardian ...
Christian Pulisic well-poised going into his third Bundesliga season     
Christian Pulisic, who turns 19 in September, enters his third season for Borussia Dortmund with a ...
England among the possible upsetters at Women's 2017 Euros    
An encouraging and historic third-place finish at the 2015 Women's World Cup has fueled optimism among ...
Chuck Blazer dies at age of 72    
Chuck Blazer, the larger-than-life American soccer executive who became the symbol of the excesses in international ...
Soccer made in Germany and the reality    
Could the recent FIFA Confederations Cup championship coupled with UEFA U-21 championship be a coincidence for ...
Will Lukaku be enough to turn around Mourinho's Manchester United?    
Will Romelu Lukaku be the force who will turn around Manchester United's struggling attack? Not since ...
Leicester City and Mahrez are reluctant partners as last dance begins    
Five weeks after declaring his wish to leave Leicester City, midfielder Riyad Mahrez reported for preseason ...
Time is of essence for World Cup 2026 bid committee    
With less than nine months before their combined World Cup 2026 bid must be submitted to ...
>> Off The Post Archives