?Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez have offered their backing to under-fire Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde after La Blaugrana were dumped out of the Supercopa de España by Atletico Madrid on Thursday.
After leading 2-1, Barça threw away their lead in the final nine minutes to lose the semi-final, in turn piling the pressure on Valverde who has come under scrutiny from the end of last season onward.
It has been ?Barça‘s successive capitulations in the Champions League which have drawn the most criticism, however, with aggregate defeats to Roma and Liverpool resulting in calls for the Spaniard to be relieved of his duties in charge. Furthermore, ?La Liga defeats against Athletic Club, Granada, Levante, and last weekend’s draw against bottom club Espanyol, have done little to help his cause.
Valverde still has the support of president Josep Maria Bartomeu, though, and there is an option to extend his deal by another year with his current contract expiring in the summer. Along with the president, it would appear he maintains the backing of his players too, given the comments made by ?Messi in the wake of their Supercopa defeat.
“Yes, there’s complete confidence in the coach,” he said, via ?ESPN. “It’s normal that a lot gets said when there’s a loss, when you don’t meet your objectives or you don’t play like we like to play.
“We’re top of the league, but we’re not playing well and we need to get back on our game. We took a step forward today in that sense, looking beyond the result.”
Those sentiments were echoed by ?Suarez, who said “Valverde’s future is with this club. He doesn’t carry any blame.”
Valverde himself responded to the criticism in his post-match press conference, insisting the pressure on his shoulders is nothing he isn’t used to.
“Coaches focus on working hard and giving everything,” he said in his news conference. “We know how football is. There is a permanent instability when you lose. You can’t control that. I just focus on my own business.”