It is official. Ernesto Valverde is the new manager of Athletic Bilbao.
The Basque club announced his return on Thursday, following the election of new president Jon Uriarte.
It is not only players that are moving these days. Managers are swapping clubs too. Finding a good manager is as important as buying top players. The ethos of the coach and the players at his disposal must align. The ideology the manager brings is of utmost importance to the success of a club, and it must be in tandem with their ambitions.
Some managers who have swapped clubs this summer are finding out why the previous gaffer left. Manchester United fired Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and hired Ralf Rangnick on an interim basis. The German left at the end of the season to be replaced by Dutch gaffer Erik Ten Hag. It’s not been smooth sailing with departures and no arrivals at the club.
Athletic Bilbao have not been left out in the out in the manager hunt. The Basque club finished eighth in the league and lost out on a place in the Europa and Conference league. They also lost the final of the Copa Del Rey last season and need to make changes for the future. Los Leones have signed a former manager to return the club to its glory days. Ernesto Valverde is back at the helms at Athletic Bilbao.
Ernesto Valverde takes over from Marcelino García Toral.
The announcement came on Thursday, five days after the club election. Jon Uriarte won the election after promising to bring Valverde back if he was elected president. Iñaki Arechabaleta, who also jostled for the position, had pledged to bring back Marcelo Bielsa for a second stint at the club. Athletic Bilbao are famously known for fielding only Basque players and have refused to budge from their ethos.
Ernesto Valverde would be returning for his third stint at the club. During his time with Los Leones, he won the Supercopa de Espana and qualified them several times for Europe. Valverde should turn things around at the club. Can the experience of the former Barcelona manager be brought to bear on this modest club? It’s only a matter of time before it all unfolds.
Valverde is a manager that has always managed to bring calm to clubs where he has managed. He has been out of work since he left Barcelona in January 2020. Valverde was not a hit at the Nou Camp, but he was a success winning back-to-back Spanish leagues and the Copa del Rey. The conservative style of the 58-year-old was not to the liking of the Cules.
Valverde has had a decent career that saw him play and manage several teams. He holds the record for the most games of a manager at Athletic Bilbao. Valverde coached Athletic for 306 games in 2003-05 and 2013-17. He has also been in the dugout for Valencia, Olympiakos, Villarreal and Espanyol.
Without any European distractions, the expectations for Valverde are that he would return to the club to challenge for the Copa Del Rey and qualify for Europe.