Ernesto Valverde dismissed claims of Barcelona being in crisis as nothing more than a quirk of modern football as he remained relaxed about speculation over his future.
Barca’s worst start to a La Liga season in 25 years was confirmed by a shock 2-0 defeat at Granada on Saturday.
The result, a second defeat in five league games for the champions, left them four points adrift of first and extended their winless run away from home to seven competitive matches, a streak that includes draws at Osasuna and Borussia Dortmund.
Tuesday’s home meeting with Villarreal presents a swift opportunity for Barca to get their campaign back on track and Valverde hopes to quieten a growing number of critics.
“In the world of football, we talk about a crisis every three days and in three days you can be out of the crisis,” Valverde said at his pre-match news conference.
“That’s what we want: we want to pick up the six points available this week.
“Why are we in this situation? Because we haven’t won, that’s clear. There were moments when we weren’t creating enough chances to turn the game around.
4 – Lionel Messi has gone four games in a row in all competitions without winning for Barcelona (D2 L2), his worst run since 2013 April when the Argentinian failed to win in five games in a row (five), the worst run in his career (as 2009 March). Blocked pic.twitter.com/CfOqPNg5LO
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) September 23, 2019
“There are things we have to improve but, apart from the second half against Dortmund, none of our opponents have really been bombarding us with chances. We’re getting penalised by occasional, one-off things that are happening.
“We’re creating the chances, but we need to create more. That’s where we really need to improve. We need to create more than the opposition.”
One player capable of carving out scoring opportunities, Ousmane Dembele, will return to the squad against Villarreal after recovering from a hamstring injury.
The fit-again Lionel Messi will be considered for a starting place following two successive appearances off the bench, but Ivan Rakitic has been left out.
Anything less than victory at Camp Nou would pile further pressure on Valverde, who has faced stern scrutiny since last season’s Champions League semi-final collapse against Liverpool.
“It’s not new. I have felt under examination from the beginning,” the Blaugrana boss said.
“There is a very large demand on coaches, much more in the case of Barca. The coach is always in the spotlight. It’s no surprise.”