Ernesto Valverde has the backing of Barcelona’s backroom staff according to sporting director Eric Abidal, who moved to distance the Blaugrana from “clubs that change coaches after bad results”.
Barcelona are top of LaLiga, level on points with second-placed Real Madrid, but a 3-1 defeat at Levante and a goalless draw at home to Slavia Prague brought doubts over Valverde’s leadership back to the fore among sections of the club’s fanbase.
Ronaldo Koeman has been touted as a potential replacement for Valverde, should he leave the position he took up in May 2017.
Abidal admitted that Valverde’s position is never far from the headlines, despite his back-to-back LaLiga triumphs, pointing to Barcelona’s Champions League eliminations at the hands of Roma in 2017-18 and Liverpool in 2018-19 as sore points for supporters.
“There’s always a debate about Valverde,” Abidal told SPORT.
“The same thing that happened in Rome happened in Liverpool. Because of one result you can end up thinking that it’s been a bad season. And for the way that it happened.
“In these situations, you can think that the coach is to blame, but you have to analyse everything. What does the coach bring to the team and vice-versa?
“We support the coach and we give him all the information, although the day-to-day is his. There are clubs that change coaches after bad results, but you always have to look at the wider situation.
“If the coach sees that it can be improved, you have to back him.”
Antoine Griezmann’s performances have also been heavily scrutinised by the Camp Nou faithful since his €120million transfer from Atletico Madrid, and Abidal conceded the France international has not been at his best.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) July 23, 2019
Griezmann has scored four goals in 11 league appearances and only one in his last six domestic outings, leaving him vulnerable to criticism from an expectant crowd.
Abidal backed the 28-year-old to improve, saying: “He knows it’s complicated to adapt. Here the movements are different, but he’s a player that can add a lot and the coach knows that.
“Defensively he brings a lot and he can play in many positions. He came because he wants to win the Champions League.
“He knows he’s not at his best and that’s only fixed by working hard. Griezmann is an intelligent player and the important thing is to know what you can add to the team in the position you are playing.”
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