Ernesto Valverde

What will Ernesto Valverde bring to Barcelona?

In one of the worst-kept secrets in European football, Ernesto Valverde was eventually named Barcelona coach on Monday. The ex-Atletico Bilbao tactician now faces a huge task rejuvenating a side which showed immense signs of decline under Luis Enrique.

Valverde follows in a long and famous line of former Barcelona players to manage the club. However, unlike two of his more recent predecessors, Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique, Valverde is little known outside of Spain has had a far less distinguished playing and managerial career thus far.

Central to Valverde's candidacy is the fact he played for the club under Johan Cruyff, winning a Cup Winners' Cup and a Copa del Rey in his two seasons at the Camp Nou from 1988 to 1990. That was the highlight of a playing career that also took in spells at now dissolved Basque club Sestao, Espanyol, Athletic, and Mallorca.

Having been around the scene for nearly two decades, what exactly should we expect from the 53-year-old? Here are five.

1 - Wealth of experience

Valverde may not be a popular figure outside Spain, however, his reputation is unmatched in his country. Even Enrique admitted that "He (Valverde) has far more experience than me so he should enjoy it". Indeed, the 53-year-old is unrivalled when it comes to his expertise. Since venturing into management in 2003, Valverde has tutored four different Spanish sides, including two separate stints at Bilbao. Outside his homeland, he also enjoyed two successful spells at Olympiacos. No wonder both Barca and Real Madrid have at different times tried to lure him to man their dugout.

2 - Trophies

When it comes to winning titles, then Valverde perfectly fits that bill for Barca. The reason isn't far fetched; Valverde has had high success in almost every job he has had. He reached the UEFA Cup final in 2007 with Barca's city rivals, Espanyol and won five titles with Olympiacos. But the most impressive of them all was leading less-fancied Bilbao to their first title in 31 years. Interestingly, he achieved this against Barca, beating his former club 4-0 to clinch the 2015 Spanish Super Cup.

3 - Return of the tiki-taka

One of the sticks with which Enrique was beaten during his third and final season, which only delivered the Copa del Rey, was his insistence on making Barca a more direct, counter-attacking force. However, that came at a cost of losing control in midfield, a key tenant of Johan Cruyff principles. Valverde, one of the Dutchman's earliest disciples, is expected to bring back that free-flowing style of play. On Valverde, one of his pupils, becoming a top coach, the late Dutch legend revealed: "He was a very intelligent player and always transmitted to me his interest in football and his enthusiasm to learn. He is one of the most outstanding and promising coaches in Spain."

4 - Discipline and better bonding

If there's one key aspect that contributed to Enrique's not-too-impressive last season, then it is the Asturian incessant fallout with his own players. Consequently, the ex-Roma coach lost control and support of his dressing room. Valverde, on the contrary, strives at harmonising his team and proffers far superior man management skills than the former.

“His greatest strength is his management of the dressing room. He’s a top coach in that sense: honest, direct, transparent. It’s not easy to find a situation where starters and subs are both with the manager to the death.” - Manchester United midfielder, Ander Herrera

5 - Emphasis on youth

Another of Cruyff's legacy expected to come to the fore under Valverde is that of a more steady flow of the club's youth academy into the first-team. The 53-year-old tactician has shown that over time while at Bilbao - a club which only fields Basque players. His ability to harness young talents played a huge role in landing him the Catalan job according to club president, Josep Maria Bartomeu.He said: "He promotes players from the youth teams and he has a style and a way of working like ours. He has a philosophy of the game that is very Barça and he is a hard worker."

About the Author Toby

An unrepentant soccer freak other freaks call geek.

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