Ernesto Valverde: Why ex-Barcelona boss could be the perfect interim manager for Manchester United
If you are a professional football manager, chances are you have received a call from Manchester United in the last few days. Or at least that appears to be the case given the number of candidates the Old Trafford club are said to have contacted after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s departure on Sunday.
United’s initial statement confirmed that they will be looking to hire a transition manager until the end of the season, implying that a longer-term appointment will be taken next summer. Subsequent reports have raised the possibility that Mauricio Pochettino will immediately take over as a long-term appointment, but a short-term option may be more feasible at this point.
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As short-term solutions fade away, Valverde could be the best United can hope for. The 57-year-old has been particularly left out in the wilderness of football since leaving Barcelona almost two years ago, but his pedigree means he would be more than qualified to take over at Old Trafford in the ‘interval.
Valverde, after all, is a two-time Spanish title winner. Under his responsibility, BarÃ§a was regularly present in the last stages of the Champions League. As the Camp Nou loyalists grew weary of his side’s apparent lack of flair, Valverde set up a structure that did more to support Barcelona than was appreciated at the time.
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde with Andres Iniesta.
Image credit: Getty Images
Indeed, Valverde’s Barca record, which has seen him win a trophy every 36 games, looks even better in hindsight given the problems he has faced at Camp Nou since his departure. Ronald Koeman certainly didn’t do better in his two seasons at the helm as Quique Setien only lasted a few months after replacing Valverde.
While some Barcelona managers struggled with egos in the dressing room, namely Lionel Messi, Valverde coped. In fact, it was reported at the time of Valverde’s sacking that Messi disapproved of the move, such was his working relationship with the 57-year-old.
Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo is a different character from Messi, but Valverde might have a better chance of securing the sometimes volatile Portugal international than most. He also has the pedigree and background to command respect in the dressing room and quiet authority as a personality that Solskjaer never had.
Above all, Valverde is known to speak English well which means he would have an advantage in getting his ideas across quickly. He has a vast knowledge of the game having worked in Greece and at a number of clubs at all levels of the Spanish game and is the kind of pragmatist United need at this point.
It could be argued that Rangnick would be a better short-term fixture for Manchester United than Valverde. The German manager has a reputation for building footballing values ââthat outlast his management – see RB Leipzig – and the Old Trafford club could certainly need some footballing values ââright now.
However, it is believed Rangnick would demand an influential role in United’s front office after stepping down as interim manager and there is no suggestion the club would be ready to offer him that. By all accounts they want a manager who will work under their current structure, which is why Valverde may well be the best qualified.
The danger of hiring an interim manager with Valverde’s pedigree is that Manchester United could be persuaded to give him the job permanently if results improve by the end of the season, when the Old club Trafford needs a long term leader on the rise. path. But until Valverde becomes another Solskjaer, he could point United in the right direction again.
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