As I’ve announced on the past Friday, Ernesto Valverde’s future as Barcelona’s manager became really shaky after the loss on the semi-final of the Spanish Super Cup that was hard to swallow for the fans and leaders of the club. Now, there is the announcement of his dismissal and the consequent arrival of Quique Setién to replace him.
A story with a foreseen ending
Ernesto Valverde’s position on Barcelona had lost its solidity a long time ago and the Spanish manager wasn’t given the necessary confidence to have the correct time and space to lead the team.
The wounds opened with the eliminations from the Champions League against AS Roma and Liverpool on previous seasons, as well as the disastrous end of the season in 2018/19 reduced the breathing room of the Catalan manager, that now seems to have failed to resist another inexplicable failure after being in a dominant position on the match.
Over the course of his stay in Barcelona, Ernesto Valverde won several league titles and they were even leading La Liga this season, but he always failed on the European context where Barcelona is focusing heavily these days, and it is still remarkable that the quality presented by the team had been dropping gradually as time went by.
That way, it wasn’t surprising to see Barcelona spending the last couple of days searching for a replacement for Valverde, although many defended this wasn’t a beautiful gesture from the club’s board, that still forced the former manager to lead a practice when he already knew his fate.
Looking for a new manager without firing the previous one is never something that is seen well by the public and, according to the Spanish press, the same thing happens with the Blaugrana players that didn’t enjoy the way this issue was handled by the club’s board.
Quique Setién has the right profile for Barcelona, but he wasn’t the first option…
Bétis’ former manager had already been associated to Barcelona previously, especially after the big accomplishment of winning at Camp Nou by 3-2 with his previous club.
Back then, a lot of people said he was a manager with a Catalan style, always trying to move the ball from the back, which is the main trait of Barcelona’s playstyle since the Johan Cruyff’s days, and Setién is also a big fan of him.
Despite the club still being at a stage where they are trying to survive without the presences of Xavi and Iniesta that really brought the team balance on the intermediate sector like no one was able to do after their departure, the truth is that players such as Frenkie de Jong, Arthur Melo or Ivan Rakitic can increase their production levels on a new system more adapted to their characteristics.
Não estamos criando, ja existe ha muito e chama-se neoliberalismo. E o futebol de hoje é acima de tudo mais um jogo neoliberal, de onde gente como Setien se destacam pelos valores e humanidade. Mais do que nunca, os grandes necessitam destes Setiens… #Setien #Barcelona https://t.co/aLPDLvCCzO
— Gonçalo Borges (@Goncalo__Borges) January 14, 2020
Besides that, Setién is very knowledgeable of Spanish football since he always managed in the country, and of Barcelona as well, taking into consideration that he is a great fan of the methods existent at the club, something that can be important for a quick adaptation.
In any case, we can’t ignore that the 61-year old manager was far from being an immediate or unanimous choice, because all of us had the chance of hearing on the press conference that the club’s board hear “no” from Xavi and Ronald Koeman before advancing onto Setién.
This way, we can conclude that the former Bétis manager has been, on the best-case scenario, the 3rd option to lead the club.
However, the fact that he is coming from smaller clubs and was not working at the time has probably made this signing easier.
Quique Setién’s dimension is still unproven
Considering the playstyle he always adopted on the teams he managed we can assume the Setién is a manager that is ideal to manage big teams that generally dominate their encounters.
However, that was never proven yet, because the biggest club he ever managed was Real Bétis.
That way, this will be the biggest test of Setién’s career so far and I believe that he will be super excited for the opportunity of managing a club of this dimension, that is fighting for every possible title.
His debut should take place on the next Sunday already, when Barcelona hosts Granada at Camp Nou on a match where the home side is highly favoured by the bookmakers with odds of 1.15 on Bet365 for them to get the 3 points.
I should also highlight the Luis Suarez’s question, since he will be absent for 4 months and will probably only return in the next season.
The Uruguayan attacker was being the most influential player of the team offensively, contributing in most of the goals of the team and he will certainly create a hole on his position that is important to remedy as soon as possible.