Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal has come out in defence of coach Ernesto Valverde and defended the club's decision to keep him in charge after the European debacle against Liverpool.
"There's always a debate about Valverde," Abidal commented. "The same thing that happened in Rome happened in Liverpool. Because of one result you can end up thinking that it's been a bad season. And for the way that it happened.
"In these situations, you can think that the coach is to blame, but you have to analyse everything. What does the coach bring to the team and vice-versa? We support the coach and we give him all the information, although the day-to-day is his. There are clubs that change coaches after bad results, but you always have to look at the wider situation. If the coach sees that it can be improved, you have to back him."
Abidal wanted to take some of the responsibility away from Valverde for the Champions League fiasco: "The players and the coach are equally to blame. It was an accident. In football, there are things that you can't explain. Not even the players that were playing in the game."
The former France international defended the coach's management this season and the way the team is playing: "The more time that passes, the more decisions you have to take. There are players with talent, new signings, products from La Masia and we have to give them minutes.
"For the coach, it can be a risk, but it's part of the process and the management of the dressing room. There are players that can complain, but decisions have to be made."
Abidal didn't want to analyse if this will be Valverde's final season in the Camp Nou dugout. "I don't know because that's his decision. The only thing I know is that we spoke about the situation recently. He knows what happens day-to-day and keeps on with his work and we share information. He will decide when he has to decide. He will say, nothing else."
And he denied that the Catalan club are looking for a replacement: "I can assure that we've not spoken with anyone, although his future depends on results. You can see that (Valverde) likes coaching. At the end of the day, only he can say if he wants to continue based on how he feels."