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Barcelona Rebirth (July 2019) 
Posted on September 28, 2020 at 10:33 PM.
Founded in 1899, FC Barcelona have been a fixture of Spanish football for over a century. They are still among the top tier of European clubs, having lifted the La Liga trophy 10 times since 2005. In the same period, the Copa de Espańa has been claimed six times (including the last four), and the Champions League four times. That said, the Catalans have not topped Europe’s premier competition since 2015. But recently things start to slide, domestic and continental, as Barcelona captured another La Liga title but lost in the Copa de Espańa final against Valencia and were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League thanks to a 4-0 comeback from Liverpool in the Semi-Finals.

With Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez ageing, time is ticking on whether Barcelona can lift the Champions League again. In two seasons time, the squad will be completely rid of the old guard that endured so much success under managers such as Frank Rijkaard, Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique.

June 15, 2019: Barcelona Sacks Valverde

Just three weeks after FC Barcelona's stunning defeat at the hands of Valencia in the Copa de Espańa, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu announced that effective immediately manager Ernesto Valverde will no longer serve as Barcelona's manager. Valverde joined as manager of FC Barcelona in May of 2017 and led the club's back to back La Liga titles. The Barcelona board of directors released a statement thanking Valverde for his time as manager, announcing that the search for a replacement would begin immediately. The board stated that their ideal candidate will have great experience developing youth, and and have a reputation of building relationships with players. No timeline has been released officially, but the feeling in the Catalan capital is that a new manager could be appointed as early as next week.

June 20, 2019: Barcelona Have Their Man...Make That Woman

FC Barcelona has found their man. Make that Woman.

It took just 8 days for FC Barcelona to replace Ernesto Valverde. The Club today unveiled the new manager, Joanne Mercier, to the press. Speculation surrounded various candidates for the job but it seems that Ms. Mercier was the best choice in the eyes of the club's board of directors.

A statement from the FC Barcelona board about the hiring of Ms. Mercier says the following; "We are here to help support and build the club. From all the candidates that were on our shortlist Ms. Mercier was the one we really wanted. She is simply the right person for the job."

Born on September 25, 1982 to mother Marie, a former dancer, and father Albert, a wine merchant, Joanne crafted her style of play by learning at Camp des Loges, the Paris Saint-Germain academy, during her youth. Her style is reminiscent of legendary Ajax and Barcelona player Johan Cruyff, whose style of play and football philosophy has influenced managers and players alike, including Joanne.

As a player, Ms. Mercier spent 7 years playing as a central fielder/striker for Paris Saint-Germain Féminine, the women's section of PSG, from 1999 to 2006. Over her 7 year career she earned 208 caps, scoring 30 goals, and added 41 assists. Ms. Mercier also had a solid national career as well, earning 58 caps for the French women's national team, scoring 11 goals and adding 17 assists through her career. She even got to participate in the 2003 Women's World Cup. Her teammates and coaches can tell you, on the pitch she is a hard worker and disciplined enough to be a coach one day.

When she suffered a knee injury in 2006 that ended her career, Joanne remained with PSG as a national scout for the Paris Saint-Germain youth academy beginning in 2007. Along the way, she learned valuable experiences from coaches and players by being resourceful in the heat of the moment. Highly regarded as a youth scout and developer of top talent, rumor has it that Ajax were attempting to hire Joanne as director of their famous youth academy back in 2017, but that fell through. In 2016, she rejoined the French Women's National team as a scout for two seasons before becoming assistant manager in 2018. But there's also a little known second occupation most fans don't know about Joanne Mercier; She is also an accomplished belly dancer, learning from her mother at an early age. She said belly dancing helped her get into shape for football season. Joanne is always dancing up a storm at home or at the local clubs in France.

Once she got her coaching card, Joanne began researching on different tactics, different systems to make a team better. A Cruyffista at heart for to her being an alumna of the Johan Cruyff Institute, Joanne began utilizing the lessons she learned from graduating from the Institute as well as her playing days with the French women's national squad and PSG.

Ms. Mercier comes with minimal management experience, but the club's board of directors were impressed with his interview. Club President Josep Maria Bartomeu didn't reveal the transfer budget that would be availiable to the new manager, however he suggested that he would make available funds for the club to be competitive in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League.

Ms. Mercier shares the ownership's vision of developing a core group of youth players to carry the club forward while at the same time building relationships with the veteran players on the squad. In her introductory press conference, Ms. Mercier stated her intent to help the club to not only win the league title, but also the Copa de Espańa and set her ambitions on the winning the UEFA Champions League in the long term. And once she was hired by FC Barcelona, she started working hard by building a better culture for both players and staff. A youth scout at heart, she began plans to utilize La Maisia, FC Barcelona's legendary academy, better than any coach before her.

"She shares our vision for the future and wants to help us succeed in any way," the board's statement continued.

A student of Total Football, the football philosophy which former FC Barcelona manager and legendary Dutch player Johan Cruyff was a proponent of, Ms. Mercier earned praise from pundits and fans alike. With her arrival at FC Barcelona some football pundits consider her to be one of the most promising managers in football. She was confident that despite being a newcomer, the club would not regret giving the job to someone with so little experience. But her appointment will no doubt bring confidence, ambition and fearlessness to the Barcelona locker room. Joanne Mercier is more than a manager, she is an amazing woman looking to give FC Barcelona supporters more success in the years to come.

June 30, 2019: Barcelona Season Preview

FC Barcelona, the defending La Liga Santander champions, are looking to avenge last season's loss in the Copa de Espańa final against Valencia and looking to move past the semi-finals in the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2015. With the arrival of Joanne Mercier at FC Barcelona, she will a new level of confidence, ambition and fearlessness to the club. She may only have one or two seasons to win one or two more Champions League medals with club legend Lionel Messi, but that could be the something fantastic in Catalonia.

With young players like Clement Lenglet, the newly acquired Frenkie de Jong, Arthur and Ousmane Demble at the club, there is enough there to continue and keep fighting for European titles. With Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid to contend with in Spain, can she keep them at bay and stay on top? only time will tell.

Barcelona have lined up in a 4-4-3 for the last decade or more, and Mercier wouldn't make any unnecessary changes to the formation. She will however switch up with the tactics with each player.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen is the second best goalkeeper on the game, and in front of him will be Nelson Semedo, veteran Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet and the pacey Jordi Alba. Midfielder destroyer Sergio Busquets sits behind Arthur and Frenkie de Jong in the middle of the park. The goal packed front three consists of captain Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and new signing Antoine Griezmann. On the bench is Neto, Samuel Umtiti, Junior Firpo, Sergi Roberto, Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitic and Ousmane Dembčlč.

July 1, 2019: Pre-Season Starts as Teams Battle for the American Challenge Cup

FC Barcelona are the latest club to confirm their participation in this year's American Challenge Cup. In what has become the norm in world football in recent years, managers from different clubs from all over the world are re-grouping to compete in front of capacity crowds before their domestic leagues even begin play.

The United States will host the friendly competition this year, which will consist of two groups of four teams, with the top two in each group making it to the semi-final stage. Everton, Colon, and Toronto FC are the other confirmed clubs that will be joining FC Barcelona in their group. The other group will consist of Ajax, Leicester City, Atlanta United and Chelsea.

When asked about the increasing importance of pre-season tournaments, FC Barcelona manager Joanne Mercier said, “It's true that these tournaments mean we have to regroup earlier and the players have less time to rest, but it's a great opportunity to try different line-ups and tactics, and ultimately get the boys ready for the season ahead.”

She also added, “It's also important for our football club to treat fans that don't get the opportunity to see these top players from the stands. These tournaments really are special these days.”

July 3, 2019: Mercier Seeks to Impress on Pre-Season Debut

The pre-season never usually comes with much pressure or expectation. But this isn't the case for Joanne Mercier, who will be under scrutiny in her first appearance as FC Barcelona's manager. The former PSG and French national women's team player has experience in friendlies before and this is no exception. Fans will be keeping a close eye on the result and her team selection.

July 3, 2019: Mercier Gets First Victory; Barcelona Squeaks By Colón

It's doesn't get any better than this for a managerial debut.

FC Barcelona's new woman in charge Joanne Mercier has hit the road running after her club secured a small but favorable 1-0 win against Argentinian side Colón in her first match in charge on the opening day of the American Challenge Cup hosted by the United States.

“I got to give the boys a lot of credit," Mercier commented afterward. "We took a little time to get going, but once we did, it was a beautiful display of technical football.”

Mercier started her younger players to start the tournament, and it paid off in spades. The first half saw Ansu Fati score in the 14th minute, and that was all she wrote. Defense won in the end as Barcelona kept the possession game going.

People shouldn't get too carried away however as clubs tend to experiment a lot in friendly games usually rendering the results irrelevant. Nevertheless if Mercier keeps the wins coming there's no doubt she'll be loved and adored by the fans of Barcelona.

July 6th, 2019: Mercier's First Signing...A Big One

Joanne Mercier have signed her first player. And it's a big signing.

FC Barcelona representatives have confirmed that they have signed 23-year old striker Anthony Martial from Manchester United for Ł51,100,000. He signed a 4 year deal on a weekly wage of Ł250,000. The France-born player has spent a majority of his career with Manchester United and started his career with the Lyon B Team in 2012, but he has made 20 appearances for France national teams (From U16 to senior team).

Mercier hopes Martial can shake up the squad and become a huge contributor to the squad. That would have a few players looking nervously over their shoulder. “Every club needs competition for places and ours is no different,” Mercier said. “I want to keep pushing my lads to give one hundred percent every match and to do that they need to know their places are always under threat. The signing of Martial is a signal of my intent.”

July 7, 2019: Dembčlč's Hat Trick Secures Win For Barcelona

New boss Joanne Mercier was able to enjoy another sweet taste of victory in their second of the American Challenge Cup, thanks to FC Barcelona defeating Toronto FC 4-3. Although Jozy Altidore opened the game with the first goal in the 3rd minute, Riqui Puig tied it up 11 minutes later. Ousmane Dembčlč put up his first of three goals in the 36th minute.

The second half started ugly. Serigio Akieme put the ball in his own net, giving Toronto a 2-2 tie. But Toronto and Barcelona traded goals late, with Patrick Mullins scoring in the 72nd minute and Dembčlč completed the hat-trick, scoring the second in the 61st and 88th minutes, the latter the game-winner. Dembčlč received the Man of the Match award for his play.

“We wanted to get out on the right foot, and I think we did just that,” Mercier said in a press conference. “I know it's the pre-season, but it still feels good to get that out in the open. The boys played well and we had lots of chances and some mistakes. More positives than negatives, I would say.”

Mercier said she will be saving her top squad for Everton, matching wits with legendary manager Carlo Ancelotti.

July 8, 2019: No Sign Of Martial Against Toronto, But Will Be In Action Against Everton

After the recent purchase of former Manchester United striker Anthony Martial, Barcelona fans have been eager to see him as a regular first team player. They were disappointed by Joanne Mercier's decision not to field her newest acquisition in the match against Toronto FC. But Mercier said she will be saving her top squad for Everton on Wednesday, and will be giving Martial solid time on the pitch with Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann.

“I understand the supporters frustration, but I had planned to use the reserves against Toronto FC,” Mercier explained. “But rest assured, I will be starting the first team for the rest of the American tour and give Anthony playing time than what occurred last weekend. I will make sure the players are well rested in the days ahead.”

Barcelona supporters may have to take her word for it, as she will indeed play the starters against Everton Wednesday. Anthony Martial will be on the team sheet by then.

July 10, 2019: Martial Puts Three In Debut

Joanne Mercier is a woman of her word.

The FC Barcelona boss said she will be saving her top squad for Everton, and she did just that. She also said she will be giving Anthony Martial solid time on the pitch with Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann, and she did. How did her new signing repay her faith in him? Scoring 3 goals in his debut against Everton, earning him Man of the Match honours.

Martial was keen to talk about putting his name on the scoresheet for the first time since joining Barcelona. “It's great to get off the mark, I'll love to get more but you know it's about team performance first and foremost,” said Martial. “I know Ms. Mercier wanted to save me for games like this and I know she has a lot of faith in me, so I decided to repay that faith with a hat-trick. I hope the supporters enjoyed the victory.”

“The Barcelona supporters wanted to see Anthony play once we acquired him,” said Mercier in a press conference. “I wanted to save the first team for the rest of the American tour and it turns out it was successful. I hope I satisfied the supporters after today's victory.”

This is also the first time Mercier matched wits with legendary manager Carlo Ancelotti, one of the most celebrated managers in football. “I remember reading stories about Mr. Ancelotti as a player and manager, but it turns out I outclassed his Everton squad today,” Mercier said. “I respect him as one of the best managers in European football, and this match was just a test of my coaching abilities. Turns out I passed with flying colors!”

July 14, 2019: FC Barcelona Makes Final, With A Price

The pre-season can be tough and unpredictable, but FC Barcelona fans will have reasons to be worried after yesterday's match against Leicester City. Although will advance to the final of the American Challenge Cup by beating Leicester City 5-0, the victory will have to come at a cost. It is confirmed that Lionel Messi will not be available for FC Barcelona for approximately 7 months as he recovers from a ACL injury that he picked up during the Leicester City match.

“The pre-season is totally unpredictable and anything can happen, but Leo will be out for some time, possibly longer,” said Joanne Mercier. “I wish him nothing but the best in his rehabilitation and hopefully I hope to see him back on the pitch real soon. Meanwhile, we are still looking for emergency replacements through the reserves and the transfer market in the short term.”

In addition to Messi, Luis Suarez and Anthony Martial found the back of the net with Martial putting up another hat trick, earning him Man of the Match honours for the second straight match.

“I know it's still the preseason, but these matches and our success matter to supporter and players,” added Mercier. “If we continue to do well it helps build momentum and breed some newfound confidence. That's why it's important for us to keep playing.”

Up next for Barcelona is a showdown with Chelsea and their new manager and Chelsea legend Frank Lampard.

July 16, 2019: Mercier Signs Another Manchester United Player

FC Barcelona have completed their second signing of the summer. This time, 26 year old Central Midfielder Paul Pogba. Pogba comes from English side Manchester United, same as Anthony Martial. Pogba joins an already stacked FC Barcelona for Ł85,200,000. In the wake of Lionel Messi's injury, manager Joanne Mercier will have plans for Anthony Martial as she plans to move him to the wings on a temporary basis, with Pogba playing central midfield alongside Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets.

July 17, 2019: Mercier, Barcelona Win First Trophy

FC Barcelona and it's new boss, Joanne Mercier, couldn't have hoped for a better pre-season. The Blaugrana earned some silverware by defeating Chelsea 5-0 to hoist the American Challenge Cup in Los Angeles.

"The boys played wonderfully against the competition," commented an overjoyed Mercier. "The veterans are rounding into form and getting their footing early, and the youngsters got plenty of experience. I couldn't be any happier. The win today is for all our supporters but especially the squad who played well and were the better team today."

Barcelona fans may have a new favorite in Paul Pogba as he managed to find the back of the net three times in his first match under Mercier's management, giving the club it's fifth straight win. Antoine Griezmann and Anthony Martial, playing the wing for an injured Lionel Messi, got in the score-sheet with one goal each.

"It's great to be out there and play with the best players in the world, but when it comes down to it, it's always about the performance of the team first and individual achievements second," said Pogba.

Lionel Messi's injury opened up an opportunity for Anthony Martial as Mercier moved him to the wings on a temporary basis, and it turned out to be successful. Martial, after 3 appearances with the club, earned Player of the Competition in the American Challenge Cup. With 7 goals and 1 assist to his credit, it's a no brainer that Martial deserved the honor.

"There was opportunities for me to get some time in, and with Lionel out I took it, " said Martial. "I hope Leo returns soon so he doesn't miss out on this season."

Barcelona has had a potentially vital player emerge during pre-season as Ousmane Dembčlč used the pre-season matches to make a name for himself. Joanne Mercier will have to give him serious consideration for the opening game of the La Liga Santander season. "Ousmane will be a key fixture for us, said Mercier. "If he continues his run of form, we'll be in top shape going into the season."

Antione Griezmann will sit out for three weeks after suffering a knee injury in the final of the American Challenge Cup. But hopefully he won't miss the season opener.

July 25, 2019: Barcelona Signs French Youth Duo

Today FC Barcelona have announced on their website that they have completed the transfers of two French youth national team members Georgino Rutter and Yann Gboho from Stade Rennais. During her time as a scout with the French national team, Joanne Mercier scouted both players. According to sources, Mercier pitched the idea of bringing both players in during her interview.

Georgino Rutter comes to Barelona from Stade Rennais in the French Ligue 1. The 17-year old striker is touted for his creativity on the ball and could be Luis Suarez's successor in the future.

Yann Gboho also comes to Barelona from Stade Rennais. The 18-year old attacking midfielder enjoyed a fruitful spell at his former club and joins his new teammates with glowing reputation as a player who can add a little something exrra to any team he plays for. Analysts are touting this as a great deal for Barcelona, as the player cost Ł1.7 million.

Mercier was over the moon with her new signing. "I can't wait to get him in the team and start working with him. He is going to give us a big boost and the extra motivation that we have been sorely laking in recent weeks," she said outside La Masia.

Mercier added in today's press conference that she believes Barcelona will not buy any more new players in this summer transfer window, but did hint that some players could leave the club via sale or loan. She did not mention any of those players by name.
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