At the start of May, 2019, FC Barcelona trumped Liverpool 3-0 at the Camp Nou in the 1st leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final tie. The victory against the Reds, in addition to their unassailable lead in the La Liga and place in the Copa Del Rey final, enabled the Barcelona faithful to dream of a third treble in the space of a decade.
Yet, in a matter of weeks, the Blaugrana’s season has unravelled rather spectacularly with the fingers of accusation again pointing towards an apparent stage-fright. A deficiency that plagued the Barcelona of old but had eluded the Spanish outfit ever since Johan Cruyff and later, when Pep Guardiola revolutionised the football they played.
Thus, the position of Ernesto Valverde, the current manager, is certainly under a cloud and those who believe otherwise might be failing to look at the bigger picture. After all, the Spaniard’s Barcelona has romped to the league title twice only to flounder infamously when push has come to shove in crunch knock-out games.
Though the players and the club have publicly come out in support of the beleaguered manager, how long can the Camp Nou faithful look the other way when their team is not just getting defeated in the biggest of games, but rather humiliated?
Secondly, if they indeed decide to shake things up at the top, what prospective course of action do they follow? Does another Valverde-esque pragmatic manager lie in wait or would they want to shift to a ‘system manager’?
The answer to the above conundrum is extremely difficult to arrive at. Yet, considering the way Barcelona has functioned during its highest troughs, one feels they might be better off going down the latter path.