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Ernesto Valverde has proven history of solving Manchester United tactical puzzle

Manchester Evening News logo Manchester Evening News 24/11/2021 Josh Williams

Manchester United are in the midst of searching for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's successor after the Norwegian was dismissed on Sunday.

The Red Devils are considering appointing an interim head coach until the end of the season, before making a long-term appointment in the summer.

Ernesto Valverde, Barcelona's former head coach, is one of the names of interest to United for the interim role and has already been approached by club chiefs. The Spaniard has been out of work since January 2020, but he has around 20 years of managerial experience.

In addition to Barcelona, Valverde has managed Athletic Bilbao, Olympiacos, Villarreal, Espanyol and Valencia, with his time at the latter drawing parallels with United's current predicament.

While at Valencia, Valverde replaced Mauricio Pellegrino, who had been sacked in the middle of the campaign in 2012. He offered an interim solution for the La Liga outfit until the end of the season at the time.

His generic approach to management appears suited to the demands of an interim role. The 57-year-old is reserved and collected, and he's proved to be an effective tactician over the years.


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Valverde isn't renowned for fluid offensive football. Rather, his primary focus is balance and cultivating a system which is functional above everything else.

While at Barcelona, his functional approach could have been deemed as a reason behind Philippe Coutinho's struggles. He was in charge when the Catalan club signed the Brazilian from Liverpool for an eye-watering amount.

However, Lionel Messi was the player who was afforded creative freedom by Valverde, with the rest of the team - including Coutinho - expected to fulfil utility roles at times.

He won La Liga twice with Barcelona, as well as two domestic cups, with five pieces of silverware picked up in Greece with Olympiacos, and another in Spain with Bilbao.

4-3-3 and 4-4-2 were Valverde's favoured systems in his last job at Camp Nou, although it remains to be seen how he would assess United's current squad.

He would find a squad of attackers in Manchester. Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani, Bruno Fernandes, Donny van de Beek, Jadon Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Anthony Martial each have expectations to play.

Pleasing everybody is an almost impossible job but based on Valverde's recent history, it is reasonable to suggest that he would coach his players to behave as a cohesive unit, even if it means benching some of United's most high-profile stars.

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