8th of May, 2019. Anfield.
“Lionel Messi crushes Liverpool on their own backyard as Football Club Barcelona proceed to Madrid for the big silver ears.”
00:18. 9th of May, 2019. Kathmandu.
‘Did we just get into the Champions League finals?’ I wondered as I woke up. ‘Maybe it was just a dream that you had.’ The other side of me got it right.
The panic started. I was scared if I had missed the match; I woke up and reached out for my phone. Took a sigh of relief as my circadian rhythm had just put me where I wanted to be. 27 minutes left for kickoff. Excited.
However, life happened again. Same story, but a different year. Barcelona pulled off a great comeback, yet again. Then Rome, now Anfield.
As a 16-year-old, I remember Barcelona pulling off an emphatic comeback against PSG, after a humiliation in the first leg of the Round of 16s. Although the epitome of the campaign after Remontada cannot be done this way, there’s a clear difference we can see of Lucho’s Barcelona and Valverde’s Barcelona – intent.
Ernesto Valverde has always been that man who’s got his work done for the mid-table clubs he has managed and had quite an impressive record when he signed for Barcelona. The record, statistically, has bettered after he has arrived at the Camp Nou. But has he fulfilled what he was asked for? Has Valverde been the man that the fans wanted to see post-Lucho? The answer is simple and obvious. No.
I know, it has a lot to do with the board than the manager but, all the problems come to the manager when they happen. Especially, Ernesto has a lot to clear about the way Barca choked at every instance, with Barca and especially with the best player on the planet by his side and no tactical sanction to exploit all the advantages that he has bottled. The thing that hurts the most is seeing Messi’s prime years go on vain while watching Valverde doing nothing on the touchlines and Bartomeu ever talking about club values.
While I am completing this, Barca are winless in all the away fixtures they’ve played this season. The Liverpool loss has simply broken the squad, exposing problems like never before. While the problems and chaos will start after Barcelona come crashing out of the Champions League, we still will somehow console ourselves about how Barca will somehow perform: not with Valverde’s prowess or Suarez’s masterclass, but with Lionel Messi. It has become a habit for every one of us to build a pestilential hope around Leo’s powers, amidst all the chaos that’s going on with the club, and fall back to that phase where we always grumble about the board again.
Trust me, this is not a habit, the habit has widespread and has become a disease: a disease that I call VALVERDEpression.