Former Spain and Real Madrid manager Vicente Del Bosque was surprised by Barcelona's decision to sack Ernesto Valverde, saying he felt bad for the tactician.
The Blaugrana announced Quique Setien as Valverde's replacement Monday. Given the Catalans lead La Liga, Del Boque was surprised by the sudden change, per Blindgol (via Sport):
"I'm nobody to judge those who run a football club. I feel bad as I always do whenever a coach is sacked midway through the season. Especially someone like Valverde, who has always been an example of how to act and behave. He's a fantastic man who represents a lot of the great qualities of being a good coach. Right now, they are in first place (in the league) and have qualified for the next round in Europe.
"I thought they were doing quite well, had some ups and downs like every team, but generally speaking were doing well.
"In English football, it's becoming a lot like it is here. The coaches don't get a lot of time, have less and less credibility and aren't trusted by those who run the club."
The defending La Liga champions lost to Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals of the new Spanish Super Cup trophy, and that defeat proved the final straw for the Barcelona board.
Valverde had a tremendous record during his time at the Camp Nou:
But even though he guided the team to two La Liga titles, a Copa del Rey win and a share of the current La Liga lead―the Catalans and Real have 40 points―a lack of success in Europe proved his downfall.
Back-to-back UEFA Champions League exits after winning the first leg were costly:
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📅 2018 Champions League QF Barcelona 4-1 Roma Roma 3-0 Barcelona 📅 2019 Champions League SF Barcelona 3-0 Liverpool Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona Ernesto Valverde's Barcelona are the only team in Champions League history to lose a 3-0 aggregate lead twice... https://t.co/VA8infeLp1
It was a surprise to see Valverde return after the defeat to Liverpool, and the Blaugrana never truly recovered from the disaster at Anfield. While the results this season have been solid, Barcelona have not consistently played inspired football and have been far too reliant on Lionel Messi.
The decision not to part with Valverde at the end of last season, but rather wait until January, is what appears to have surprised people the most. Per Andrew Gaffney, it's another example of the club handling things the wrong way:
Setien is known for coaching his teams to play attractive, attacking football but has never won a trophy in nearly two decades of managing. His last job was at Real Betis, where the high point was a sixth-placed finish in La Liga during his first season.