Since the 2007/2008 season when Spanish giants Barcelona FC went trophyless under the tutelage of Dutchman Frank Rijkaard, the powers that be at the Catalunya based club sought to change things by firing the Dutchman and bringing club legend Pep Guardiola who had the little managerial experience but had the know-how of the Tika-Taka or Total Football brand that came to be accustomed to Barcelona Football Club.
Guardiola rang some changes to the squad by letting go of two important players to the team in Ronaldinho and Deco. A move many pundits called riskily but by the end of the season, he was proved right by his trust in the Argentine maestro Messi as the season end with Champions League success in Rome over Manchester United.
The club had since then enjoyed a considerable amount of success every season with the club adding another two champions league titles to the 2009 Success.
The brilliance of Lionel Messi has made Barcelona become a household name in many countries across the globe and the fan base of the club has been on the increase since then. The club has become a great commercial brand due to unprecedented levels of success on the pitch over the years.
However, nothing lasts forever, when Barcelona appointed Ernesto Valverde after the departure of Luis Enrique, the club thought the tradition of club legends bringing success would be sustained. The signs of the clubs’ declining fortunes on the pitch have been so apparent but the club has always been blinded by the brilliance of Lionel Messi. The fallouts in the champions league should be wake up calls for Barcelona. The loss to Roma and the Anfield debacle should have taken the club hierarchy into introspection about their decisions on the future of the club.
The club has lost the direction of the recruitment process and the club is now the opposite of what they taunted during the Guardiola days. They are investing in the wrong areas of the squad. The tables have now changed in Spain with Real Madrid doing what Barcelona was doing in the recruitment of players. They now pay hefty transfers fees for players that are hardly improving the squad.
When the club sacked Valverde in January after the Super Cup semi-final lost to Athletic Madrid, the club thought they were fixing the problem yet they were merely opening the Pandora box. The appointment of Setien did not come down well among the Barcelona faithful but the club had no option at the time. Valverde was not the problem but the investment in the playing.
The club hierarchy has for a long time been blinded by the brilliance of Lionel Messi and thought it will always be plain sailing with him in the team. Lionel Messi alone cannot always deliver for the club but he needs quality all around him. The playing is aging and there seems to be no plan lined up on how to replace the aging stars in the team.
The humiliation in the Stadium of Light in Lisbon should serve as a wake call to the Barcelona hierarchy on the need to stop relying on the brilliance of Lionel Messi and invest in the right areas of the playing squad.