LaLiga Santander From the players to the coach to the board
In less than three weeks, Barcelona have gone from euphoria and dreams of a treble to depression after Champions League elimination and Copa del Rey final defeat to Valencia.
It is a season that has called for reflection on who is to blame.
All those responsible for the club’s crisis are outlined below.
For now, the focus is on the coach who failed to psychologically prepare his team to face the difficulties at Anfield that overcame them in Rome a year before.
He was then was incapable of recovering his team for the Copa del Rey final weeks later.
His line-up for the final fixture of the season was excessively conservative and he started three players just returning from injury, including Philippe Coutinho, who has been almost undroppable despite his woeful form.
Yet there is no logic in keeping the Brazilian in the side in big games other than to avoid his value falling even further.
Few understand what Jeison Murillo brought to the team, even as an emergency signing, and key figures have been allowed too much power, while debate about systems continues as fans protest the 4-4-2 approach with a direct style.
Nobody emerges unblemished other than Lionel Messi.
At Anfield, he created three golden chances which should have put his team in the Champions League final, while he scored and hit the post against Valencia.
The mental block at Anfield is a problem for the team.
Although the coaching staff didn’t work on it enough, the lack of reaction from players who have won it all is inexplicable, particularly for the clumsy fourth goal.
Another important factor is that the nucleus of the team is ageing, all into their 30s and with so many games each season it is beginning to show, particularly as some players fail to show the levels of professionalism which are expected.
Pep Segura has become an easy scapegoat, as he is perceived to be against the club’s traditional style and instead focusing on physicality.
Yet it is his signings that have drawn him most criticism.
Last summer, he led the signings of Arturo Vidal, Clement Lenglet, Malcom and Arthur Melo and, whilst they have not been poor, only the first two have lived up to expectations, while Arthur‘s season has gone downhill after a bright start and Malcom has lacked opportunities.
In January, Murillo and Kevin-Prince Boateng joined on loan, one according to Valverde‘s wishes and another to Eric Abidal‘s, but neither has contributed anything, even if there wasn’t a budget for much else.
The great work on sales last summer is key to Barcelona‘s strategy, but it’s true that an alternative to Jordi Alba was needed as his level has dropped at the end of the season, while another man in attack was also necessary.
The poor form of Coutinho hasn’t helped, but that was down to the decision of the former sporting director.
As the highest figure at the club, Josep Maria Bartomeu has responsibility and his trust in Valverde has been clear, renewing his contract only months ago.
His support, sometimes too much for some players, means that he will now make a decision on the technical secretary, who leads the sporting side of the club.
His changes during his presidency in this position have been infinite, from Andoni Zubizarreta, Raul Sanllehi, Albert Soler, Robert Fernandez and a committee of Carles Rexach, Ariedo Braida, Jordi Mestre and Javier Bordas, and now to Pep Segura, Eric Abidal and Ramon Planes.
It’s hard to believe that all made mistakes.