Valverde to fight on as Barca coach after Champions League woe
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has vowed to continue as coach and says he has the backing of the club and president Josep Maria Bartomeu after Tuesday’s humiliating 4-0 defeat by Liverpool which knocked them out of the Champions League.
The semi-final loss to Liverpool after winning the first leg 3-0 was Barca’s second successive dramatic exit from Europe’s elite competition under Valverde after being knocked out by AS Roma last year after winning a quarter-final first leg 4-1.
Those failures in Europe’s elite competition, which Barca have failed to win since 2015, threaten to overshadow the coach’s enormous achievements in leading them to back-to-back LaLiga titles.
“I feel strong, I’m ok and I’m looking forward to taking a step forward, I’m not going to hide behind a wall,” Valverde told a news conference ahead of his side’s league game at home to Getafe on Sunday.
“I’ve spoken to the president and I have always felt supported by him and he has given me his absolute backing. When something like this happens it seems like everything is falling apart but we know what this world is like.
“Everyone thinks you should burn everything to the ground at moments like this but you have to put things back in their place.”
Barca will face their home supporters for the first time since their capitulation at Anfield in Sunday’s game against top-four contenders Getafe and Valverde urged them to unite behind the team.
“The fans can demonstrate however they wish to, but whenever you have a disaster like this it’s an opportunity for everyone,” Valverde said.
“We are all affected by this huge setback but this is our last home game and I see it as a chance to help the team to rise again. We should also try and avoid fighting amongst ourselves, which is what our enemies want us to do.”
Barca clinched an eighth title in the last 11 years two weeks ago and in two weeks time they face Valencia in the Copa del Rey final, bidding to win a second successive domestic double.
The Catalans will be without striker Luis Suarez for the remainder of the season after the Uruguayan underwent knee surgery and will also be missing Ousmane Dembele who has a hamstring injury.
Brazilian midfielder Arthur Melo will also miss the Getafe game due to a hip problem.
REUTERS/Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond