The constant slip-ups that led Barcelona to lose the title to Real Madrid in La Liga, as well as the lack of consistency in playing compelling and convincing football with Quique Setién, have been causing a lot of doubts regarding the future of the manager at Camp Nou, and there are already several potential names for his successor in the short to medium term.
WHAT’S THE PATH TO TAKE AT CAMP NOU?
The pressure on a winning club and with a chronical demand (from the outside and from the inside) to win titles year after year is normal.
When things don’t go as well, in terms of results, that pressure tends to increase. And when the titles don’t appear and the football played is underwhelming, everything gets worse.
That’s sort of the situation that Barcelona is on, with the Spanish giants having failed to reconquer the La Liga title on this 2019/20 season, after several situations that raised some doubts regarding the apparently uncertain path that the club is on, from the top.
Here, the names of the president Josep Maria Bartomeu and Éric Abidal the sports director who finished his career at Olympiakos stand out.
2019/20 IN REVIEW: FROM VALVERDE TO SETIÉN
The 2019/20 season kicked off with Ernesto Valverde leading the team, but with some ghosts haunting the team, after the losses, on the previous season, against Liverpool in the Champions League and against Valencia in the final of the Copa del Rey.
Apparently, these were two good reasons (especially the waste of the 3-0 advantage on the semi finals of the Champions League, at Anfield Road) for the “managerial change” from Valverde, but the confidence from the Catalan board was maintained.
The start of the La Liga edition that ended on the past weekend was everything but convincing, with 2 victories, 1 draw and 2 losses on the first 5 rounds. The contestation regarding Valverde increased in tone but the manager gave a positive response and put the team on the winning path… until December.
The year of 2019 ended and 2020 started with Barcelona wasting 6 points in 4 rounds, having drawn against Real Sociedad, Real Madrid and Espanyol. The alarm signs echoed again and hit their peak with the loss on the Spanish Super Cup, that took place in Jeddah, against Atlético de Madrid.
With the manager that had won the title in 2017/2018 and 2018/19 being fired, with a resume that also included a Copa del Rey (17/18) and a Spanish Super Cup (18/19) for Barcelona, it was time to bet on a credible successor that was capable of guiding the “blaugrana” to a good 2nd half of the season, which would be winning the Spanish title and once again reaching the Champions League’s final.
The title is gone already and the poor results, gotten especially on the “post-COVID” period have raised the contestation surrounding the work of Quique Setién, who was accused of having a small mentality and making too many mistakes on his options.
FORMER GLORIES ARE GIVING THEIR OPINION
One of the main critical voices to the manager and the board led by Bartomeu recently has been the Bulgarian Hristo Stoichkov, former Barcelona star.
The former striker mentioned Quique Setién as a “mediocre manager” and not even the assistant manager Eder Sarabia was able to dodge the heat.
“Do you know what’s more worrying? Spending millions and not winning anything. Millions! It’s no small change”, stated Stoichkov on a very critical tone.
The recent statements made by Messi, that condoned the performance of the team after the scandalous loss against Osasuna on the penultimate round of La Liga had some repercussion on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
Dani Alves, currently at São Paulo, who won everything there was to win at Barcelona alongside the Argentinian star defended Messi on a statement given to the Radio Catalunya and even mentioned that the superstar “needs to be more protected”.
He was the main dish, but we were the perfect ingredients”, alluding to the lack of quality on the current roster of the Catalan side.
BLANC GAINS STRENGTH NEXT SEASON, BUT AS A “BRIDGE” FOR XAVI
The Spanish sports newspaper “Sport”, with good connections with Barcelona, suggests the name of the French Laurent Blanc as the most likely successor of Quique Setién next season.
Allegedly, the plan of the Catalan board is finding a manager for one season (2020/21) that will serve as a transition so that Xavi Hernández can take the lead from there.
The former Spanish international midfielder is in charge of Al Sadd, from Qatar, but he already publicly assumed the desire of managing his favourite team (where he spent about 20 years of his career). Those statements were well received by Bartomeu, that said it is only a “matter of time” until Xavi becomes the manager of the Catalan side.
LOCKER ROOM DESIRES KLUIVERT FOR NOW
According to the Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona’s players have lost confidence in Quique Setién after the loss in La Liga and they are
scared of not delivering as expected in the Champions League, that returns on the 2nd half of August.
There actually is the desire that it is Patrick Kluivert, former Dutch international and currently football director of Barcelona’s youth team takes control of the team immediately.
Barcelona’s next match is scheduled for August 8th, at Camp Nou, where they will be hosting the 2nd leg of the Champions League’s 8th finals, where the Catalans drew 1-1 away from home against Napoli.
A lot of thing may happen until then, and due to all the turbulence surrounding the “blaugrana” side recently, the truth is that the odds in their favour have been increasing on the top online bookmakers, while the odds of the Draw (3.75) and Napoli’s victory (5.35) have been the opposite.