Why Ernesto Valverde is an attractive option for indecisive Tottenham
In a manager market which has spread its faltering wings far and wide, it’s perhaps a surprise that it took so long for Ernesto Valverde to be linked with Tottenham.
After all, this is a manager who is currently available, has managed and won silverware at one of the biggest clubs in the world, and his trophy count is in double-figures which includes back-to-back Spanish titles.
In fact, it’s quite bizarre that the successful Spanish tactician has yet to return to management since he departed Barcelona - when they were top of the league - 18 months ago.
Although, on closer inspection the manager Guardiola previously labelled “spectacular” had only had a couple of brief six month rest periods in the last 19 seasons, so a proper break from the stresses and strains of the dugout were therefore long overdue.
He’s since developed his passion for photography by showcasing an exhibition earlier this month but in a recent interview with The Guardian he revealed that he could be swayed by a move to the Premier League.
“If there is something that motivates me, yeah, I could be tempted,” he said.
“Things have come up that I turned down. The idea of going abroad is attractive: something different.
“I wouldn’t mind trying it [England]. You get the feeling that there’s a respect there for what the game is.”
Valverde’s successor at the Nou Camp, Quique Setien, failed to win the title and was sacked that very summer (2020) following a chastening 8-2 defeat to Barcelona, while his successor Ronald Koeman could only finish 3rd last season.
Winning Barcelona the title is evidently harder said than done.
In two full seasons, Valverde bagged two La Liga titles; the first was accomplished with just the one defeat, while the second was won by an 11-point margin. He also lifted the Copa del Rey and Supercopa de España.
In total the Spaniard won 97, drew 32, and lost 16 of his 145 matches.
However, at a club where the pressure gauge can reach excruciating levels, Valverde was haunted by Barcelona’s consecutive Champions League collapses against Roma and Liverpool, while his more pragmatic approach contrasted to Barcelona’s traditional exciting and free-flowing principles.
Yet, while he was unable to deliver European success at the Catalan club, Valverde has a proven record and a CV that boasts multiple honours in different environments.
In 2015, he led Athletic Bilbao to their first trophy in three decades - a superb 5-1 aggregate Spanish Super Cup success over Barcelona - and prior to that he won three Greek titles in three seasons - across two spells - at a dominant and stylish Olympiacos; delivering the league and cup double in two of those campaigns.
In his first season at Espanyol he reached the 2007 UEFA Cup final, which they lost on penalties, while he’s also had six-months spells at Villarreal and Valencia.
At Villarreal he was axed when the club were 10th in the table despite losing only one of his final seven games which included a draw away to Barcelona, then at financially-troubled Valencia he won 16 and drew seven of his 30 games before leaving at the end of the season. He chose not to renew his short-term contract and was swiftly reappointed at first-club Bilbao.
In two spells at the Basque outfit he accumulated 306 games - a club managerial record - won the Super Cup, oversaw Champions League football, and he reached a Copa del Rey Final. Which caught the eye of Barcelona.
Now, a year-and-a-half on from his Barcelona tenure, Valverde finds himself in the mix for the Tottenham job.
Paddy Power currently have the 57-year-old as the 4/1 favourite for the post, however he can still be backed at an attractive 8/1 with Bet Victor.
His availability coupled with his impressive league and cup record surely appeals to Tottenham, who only have a League Cup to show in the last three decades.
Only time will tell if Valverde is merely just another footnote in this crazy and chaotic managerial search - Fabrizio Romano reports that Ernesto Valverde has been approached - or whether there’s something more substantial behind the link.
He’s definitely one of the stand-out options at this moment in time.