Ernesto Valverde has written an open letter to fans of Barcelona following his dismissal as the club’s Coach.
Valverde led the club to league titles in each of his two full seasons at the helm while also leading the club to the Copa del Rey crown in his first campaign at the helm and the Spanish Supercopa the following year.
The former Athletic Club Bilbao boss has been replaced in the Camp Nou hotseat by Quique Setien, who has penned a two-and-a-half year contract at the club.
“Dear Barça fans,” Valverde’s letter on Barcelona’s website began.
“My time as FC Barcelona coach has come to an end. 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 Setién also.
All the best to everyone.
Visca Barça and Visca Catalonia.
In his first season at the club, Barcelona suffered only one league defeat - and after the title had already been won, with a 5-4 loss at Levante coming just days after the club had arranged a friendly match.
A hugely impressive debut campaign domestically also saw the Blaugrana lift the Copa del Rey, dismantling Sevilla 5-0 in the final - but a harrowing Champions League exit to Roma at the quarter-final stage was a low point.
The following league campaign brought just two meaningful league defeats - against Leganes and Real Betis - before the title had been wrapped up, although this time the Catalan giants lost out in the Copa decider, defeated 2-1 by Valencia.
Again though, the season suffered a massive low point with the club exiting the Champions League at the semi-final stage - blowing a 3-0 first leg lead against Liverpool to go down 4-0 in the second.
Somewhat surprisingly, Barcelona’s board reiterated their support of Valverde for this campaign and he has left them top of La Liga, but with just 40 points from 19 matches they are ahead of Real Madrid on goal difference only.
The Blaugrana also topped a tricky Champions League group - including Borussia Dortmund and Inter - but Thursday’s 3-2 defeat against Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Supercopa proved to be Valverde’s last game at the helm.
It is the first time that Barcelona have sacked a Coach in the middle of a season since Louis Van Gaal in 2003 - when they were 20 points behind Real Sociedad, and eventually finished sixth.