Why Víctor Valdés was fired as Barça youth coach after just three months
Heated disputes and public complaints have led to dismissal in latest chapter of tension between club and six-time Liga champion
Víctor Valdés has been fired as the manager of the FC Barcelona youth team, just three months after taking up the position. The legendary goalkeeper of the Pep Guardiola era was told he would not be taking over the team’s match over the weekend, and was officially relieved of his duties following a meeting with the club on Monday.
Central to the now-former Juvenil A coach’s firing was a heated discussion he had with Patrick Kluivert, the academy director at the club and direct boss of Valdés at the club, on Friday last week. Also present during that tense meeting were Jordi Roura, technical secretary of the youth academy, and Aureli Altimira, another head of youth football at the club.
Suggestions in Catalan media say the disagreement originated from Valdés wanting to call up a player from the youth B team, but Kluivert, who played at Barcelona between 1998-2004, rejected the request, allegedly leading to the argument that saw the ex net-minder slam his fists on the desk of his boss.
Valdés has never been shy of speaking his mind, and this strong-headedness came across in press conferences during his time as youth coach. In the week prior to his dismissal, he publicly bemoaned the lack of opportunities to play and train in the newly built Estadi Johan Cruyff.
“The first day when I arrived and I saw that stadium, I was excited. I thought it was going to be ours, but unfortunately at the moment it’s not, but I’ll keep fighting for it,” he said in a press conference last week ahead of the UEFA Youth League match with Inter Milan, which the Barça youth side lost 0-3.
There has also been a lot of discontentment with Valdés’ unwillingness to conform to the guidelines set by the club for the youth academy. The newly fired coach did not play with a 4-3-3 that the Barcelona senior team are famously known for, but rather preferred to implement his own innovative, unique, tactical system, which he calls futtack. He also had no interest in giving priority starting positions to players that the club have bet on economically.
This unwillingness to adapt, coupled with his fiery personality leading to disputes and tension among Barça officials, has been one of the principal reasons for the release of the technician from his duties.
Valdés was hired as the manager just three months ago, and the initial press conferences gave the impression that the club wanted to work to repair the image of the three-time Champions League winner, after he left the club as a player in circumstances far from ideal.
In March of 2014, Valdés played his final game for the Catalan giants, when his season was tragically ended early with a tear to his anterior cruciate ligament. Prior to this, he had already announced he would leave the club at the end of that season, despite being offered a new contract to remain.
After the announcement of his departure and his injury, no tribute was ever paid to the goalkeeper in the same way many other golden era players were honoured, such as Carles Puyol and Xavi Hernández.
He returned to the club of his life during the summer, when reportedly he personally rang Josep Maria Bartomeu, FC Barcelona president, and asked him, “Presi, don’t you think it’s time for me to come home?”