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3 reasons why Quique Setien is not the right man for FC Barcelona | La Liga 2019-20

Scott Newman
Published Jan 14, 2020
Jan 14, 2020 IST

Former Real Betis boss Quique Setien has been appointed as the new manager of Barcelona
Former Real Betis boss Quique Setien has been appointed as the new manager of Barcelona

In a move that has sent shockwaves through the football world, Barcelona fired their manager Ernesto Valverde last night, replacing him with former Real Betis coach Quique Setien, who left his position at Los Verdiblancos back in May. The move came even though Barca are currently sitting at the top of La Liga on equal points with their bitter rivals Real Madrid, and are one of the current favourites to lift the UEFA Champions League title in May.

But is Setien the right man for the job? Only time will tell, but in all likelihood, the answer is no. Here are 3 reasons why Quique Setien is the wrong man for Barcelona.

#1 He’s never managed at a club as big as Barcelona before

Setien's experiences as a coach have never taken him to a club as big as Barcelona

The 61-year-old Setien is undoubtedly a renowned coach, having managed various lower league sides – and the Equatorial Guinea national team – before moving to Las Palmas in 2015, before leading the unheralded side to their best-ever finish in La Liga, 11th place in 2015-16.

Setien then moved to Real Betis in the summer of 2017, and helped the Andalusia-based club to a 6th place finish in his first season there, before finishing 10th in 2018-19 while also making the Round of 32 in the UEFA Europa League.

That’s all well and good, but it’s hard to see how this previous experience in coaching can prepare him for taking over a club as big as Barcelona. The pressure on whoever takes the reins at the Nou Camp is practically unimaginable – to the point where the great Pep Guardiola, who had won every trophy possible while in charge, had to resign citing burnout after the 2011-12 season.

How will Setien deal with that kind of pressure from the fans and the board – as well as the notorious Spanish press – while also dealing with the big egos and personalities likely present in Barcelona’s dressing room?

It’s hard to tell, but in all honesty, the move is reminiscent of Liverpool’s appointment of veteran coach Roy Hodgson in 2010 – and everyone knows how that went.

#2 He’s never actually won any trophies as a boss

Unlike Setien, the fired Ernesto Valverde had won plenty of trophies as a manager prior to arriving at the Nou Camp
Unlike Setien, the fired Ernesto Valverde had won plenty of trophies as a manager prior to arriving at the Nou Camp

Winning top-level trophies as a manager in football certainly isn’t easy; it’s why the likes of Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, considered “serial winners”, are so highly sought after by Europe’s biggest clubs. But when you’re put in charge of a club like Barcelona, being capable of winning the game’s richest competitions is practically a must.

Quique Setien, however, has never won a single trophy in his managerial career. Even in his career as a player, he only managed to capture a lone honour – the Supercopa de Espana with Atletico Madrid in 1985. Admittedly, he hasn’t exactly been at clubs in a position to win say, the Champions League, but then that makes him even less prepared for the job in hand at Barcelona.

It’s true that previous Barca managers hadn’t won any trophies before taking over, but then Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique won plenty at the club as players, while the late Tito Vilanova was a key member of Guardiola’s backroom staff during La Blaugrana’s massive successes in the late 2000’s.

When you consider that one of the main reasons for Ernesto Valverde’s firing was that he’d failed to win the Champions League in his two seasons at the club, it’s just hard to see how a manager who’s never experienced any kind of trophy win is going to succeed at the Nou Camp, especially when he has to deal with players like Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Luis Suarez – who have practically won it all.

#3 He wasn’t the club’s first choice

Club legend Xavi was reportedly Barca
Club legend Xavi was reportedly Barca's first choice for new boss, but turned the job down

Perhaps the most bizarre part of the whole situation surrounding Valverde’s firing and Setien’s appointment was that according to reliable reports, former club legend Xavi was actually offered the job as Barcelona’s new manager at some point last week, before failing to reach an agreement with the club’s sporting director Eric Abidal and CEO Oscar Grau.

Throw in the rumours that La Blaugrana were looking to lure former Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino to the Nou Camp, or were considering promoting current B team manager Xavi Garcia Pimienta into the role as first-team boss, and it adds up to one simple conclusion: Quique Setien just wasn’t the club’s first choice.

That puts him into a tricky spot right away; how can Barcelona’s devoted fans take the former Real Betis boss seriously, knowing that he wasn’t the board’s first choice to take the job? And to add to that, how will Barca’s players feel, armed with the same knowledge?

A comparison in this instance can be made to Barcelona’s bitter rivals Real Madrid; after Zinedine Zidane resigned at the Bernabeu in the summer of 2018, it was known that they coveted Pochettino as their first choice to replace him – but hastily ended up moving for then-Spain boss Julen Lopetgui when the Argentine refused to leave Tottenham.

Lopetgui lasted just 4 months before being fired, and when Real again failed to secure Pochettino, Santiago Solari was appointed after winning 4 games as interim boss. Unsurprisingly, Solari lasted just 133 days in the role before being sacked himself before Zidane agreed to return.

What is the lesson? Essentially, that when it becomes clear that a manager isn’t a club’s first choice, they’re onto a loser from the off. Which means Setien simply cannot afford to slip at the Nou Camp, otherwise his time in charge will be numbered.

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