Ernesto Valverde has penned a classy letter in the wake of his departure from Barcelona. The 55-year-old was sacked on Tuesday night, despite Barcelona sitting top of La Liga, and immediately replaced by former Real Betis coach Quique Setien.
“Dear Barca fans, My time as FC Barcelona coach has come to an end,” Valverde wrote. “It has been an intense two and a half years right from the start.
“In that time I have enjoyed some joyful moments celebrating victories and trophies but also others that have been tough and difficult. However, above all I would like to highlight my experience with the fans and the affection showed towards me during my time as coach.
“I would like to thank the president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the Board of Directors for giving me the opportunity to coach the first team and their confidence during all this time. I would also like to thank all the people I have worked with at the Club for their support and how they treated me during the two and a half seasons, especially those who work in and around the first team and with whom I have shared so many moments at the Ciutat Esportiva and during away trips.
“Of course, I would like to thank the players for all their efforts that have allowed us to claim four trophies together. From this day, I wish them all the luck in the world and to the new coach Quique Setien also.
“All the best to everyone. Visca Barca and Visca Catalonia.”
Valverde’s last game in charge of Barcelona turned out to be last week’s Spanish Super Cup semi-final defeat to Atletico Madrid in Saudi Arabia.
The Spaniard was often accused of failing to get the best out of the squad at his disposal, despite leading them to two successive La Liga titles after arriving in 2017.
Valverde also won the Copa del Rey with Barcelona in 2018 and guided them to Spanish Super Cup glory the same year, but the Champions League title proved elusive.
Setien proved a surprise appointment as Valverde’s replacement, after Xavi and Mauricio Pochettino had been touted as the top candidates for the job.
Speculation over Valverde’s future rose to boiling point in the wake of Barcelona’s Spanish Super Cup defeat, which saw them miss out on a final showdown with Real Madrid.
Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta slammed Barcelona’s attempts to line up a replacement before Valverde was sacked, even as his former team-mate Xavi was linked with the job.
“Barcelona’s behaviour has been a little ugly,” Iniesta said. “You have to have respect for your current coach. The way things are done is what can hurt the most.”
Setien’s reign at the Nou Camp will get underway on Sunday when Barcelona welcome Granada to town.