2019/20 Season Analysis: Where Did It Go Wrong for Barça?

After the nightmare at Anfield, the disappointment against Valencia, and Bartomeu’s dicey decision of keeping Valverde, the expectations were low going into the 19/20 season. However, with Messi on Barcelona’s side, absolutely anything was possible. But this time even Messi magic wasn’t enough to help Barça salvage something from this La Liga season.

Throughout the season there was a constant title race between Real Madrid and Barcelona, which has been unusual of late. Although after the lockdown, Real’s brilliant run of results. Despite the VAR shouts, Barcelona’s repeated mistakes was enough. Los Blancos won the champions of Spain with a game in hand.

Many Barça fans will be relieved that the 19/20 La Liga season is over. Especially after enduring multiple chaotic and abysmal performances throughout the year. But why have the Blaugrana faltered so badly
during this year’s campaign? Is it due to the abnormal schedules, tactical and individual errors. Or is it purely because of the incompetence from Bartomeu and the board?

This season’s failure – and recent humiliation in Europe – is the fault of those in charge of the club. It is as if this season has perfectly encapsulated the outcome of years of mismanagement under the board. Their reckless decisions of making questionable signings, selling promising youngsters to balance the books. Moreover, being involved in shady scandals, clearly reflect the fact that they do not have a plan for this club. But how does this specifically pertain to this season?

The Managerial Shake-up

What happened in Barcelona - January 2020

The 19/20 La Liga season started sluggish and inconsistent for Barça. With the 3-2 loss against Los Rojiblancos in the Spanish Super Cup semis, the tension within the board grew. These series of events placed immense pressure on Bartomeu’s shoulders. The result was the dismission of Ernesto Valverde – done to maintain his image. Even though this was a long-awaited announcement for the Barça fanbase, it was yet another imprudent decision from the board.

They had no idea as to who would replace Valverde. After the likes of Xavi, Koeman, and Henry refused to take the job, it led to Quique Setién’s appointment. The arrival of a hardcore Cruyffista to take over Valverde’s position filled Culers with hope and excitement. However, most of the heavyweights in the locker-room were not content. Such a decision of incredible magnitude should always be well-planned and timely executed; however, in this scenario, it was neither.

Squad Management and Transfers

In addition to the unrest created by the managerial changes mid-way through the season, the board’s desire and desperation for bringing in money to fund big-money transfers resulted in the departures of many promising youngsters. During the winter transfer market, Barcelona decided to loan out Jean-Clair Todibo, Moussa Wagué, and Carles Aleñá, and sell Carles Pérez. These transfer operations left Setién with an ageing and out-of-depth squad, which had already appeared to be fragile and fatigued in the first half of the season under Valverde. To make the situation worse, the COVID pandemic created significant economic obstacles for the Catalan giants and enforced the club to make more ill-advised decisions to cover-up the financial struggles they created. During the most crucial part of the season, post-lockdown, the board decided to negotiate with Juventus for a “swap-deal” of some sort between the 23-year-old Arthur Melo and the 30-year-old Miralem Pjanić.

Despite the Brazilian’s hesitation to move away from Barcelona, the pressure continued to mount on him and Arthur finally agreed to join
the Bianconeri. Thus, the situation left Arthur disheartened and contributed to the fact that he only appeared for 179 minutes out from the 990+ played after the restart. To conclude, this deal and the entirety of the season itself reflect the type of transfers and decisions Barça have been making under
Bartomeu’s regime: ethically incorrect, straying away from the core values and principles of FC Barcelona – “Més Que un Club”.

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