Ernesto Valverde managed Barcelona between 2017-2020. Credit: Getty.
Manchester United could be closing in on an interim manager, with reports that contact has been made with Ernesto Valverde about the position.
In their official statement on Sunday, when it was announced that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was to be sacked, United said: “Michael Carrick will now take charge of the team for forthcoming games, while the club looks to appoint an interim manager to the end of the season.”
While ManchesterWorld has been told the plans to appoint an interim manager are flexible, the discussions with Valverde would suggest it’s still an avenue they intend to pursue.
What has been reported?
Several national outlets have claimed United have opened talks with Valverde about the possibility of taking charge of the club on an interim basis.
BBC Sport reported that Valverde is one of a number of names in consideration for the interim role, with United unsure whether they’ll be able to prise Mauricio Pochettino from Paris Saint-Germain mid-season.
They also claim that United feel an experienced interim coach would bring stability and time to conduct a thorough search for the long-term manager.
Meanwhile, according to The Times, Valverde is interested in the role but it’s not clear if he’d be willing to accept a temporary position.
Journalist Fabrizio Romano claims Valverde is one of five names on United’s shortlist should they fail to appoint Mauricio Pochettino, who is their first choice to take over permanently.
Who is Ernesto Valverde?
The 57-year-old enjoyed a distinguished career as a player in Spain, and represented Espanyol, Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao among others.
Valverde began his coaching career with Bilbao and worked with the youth sides, before being appointed as a first-team coach.
He took over the reins at the Basque club in 2003 and managed them for two years. After 12 months out, Valverde was appointed manager of Espanyol and led the club to the final of the Uefa Cup in 2007.
He subsequently went on to take charge of Olympiacos twice, winning three league titles, as well Villarreal and Valencia, before returning to Bilbao in 2013.
Valverde is best known for his spell in charge of Barcelona, where he led the Catalan club to consecutive league titles in 2018 and 2019, as well winning a Copa del Rey. However, his stint at the Nou Camp is also associated with two calamitous Champions League exits, when Barcelona surrendered commanding first-leg leads against Roma and Liverpool in back-to-back campaigns.
Valverde was sacked in 2020 and has not managed a side since.
Our view - would he be a good appointment?
This is a complicated story, with plenty of moving managerial parts. Ideally United would appoint their first-choice manager immediately, but it’s not always quite so straightforward.
Pochettino is the best available candidate and United should do everything in their power to bring him to Old Trafford. However, the waters become muddied if the Paris Saint-Germain coach can’t move until the summer. It creates a situation where United must balance appointing the best man for the job long-term against the instability it would cause for the remainder of the season.
In such a scenario, United should probably look to bring in Pochettino for the beginning of the 2022/23 campaign and hire an experienced coach for the second half of the current season. Giving Carrick the role to the end of the term is simply not an option, especially after Solskjaer’s extended spell in charge of the team.
If United do look to appoint an interim then Valverde would be a good option given his experience, although it’s far from ideal that Red Devils’ squad may be coached by four different managers in a little over six months.
It’s a complicated situation for the board at Old Trafford, one, in truth, they should have sorted over the recent international break.