It is no longer news that FC Barcelona have sacked Ernesto Valverde and swiftly replaced him with Quique Setien. The former Real Betis coach has agreed to a two-and-a-half-year deal and will be presented to the media on Tuesday afternoon. After leading Barcelona to two successive La Liga titles and currently leading the competition this term on goal difference this season, the Catalan club felt there was a need to change course. In a statement, Barca said they had reached an agreement with Valverde to terminate his contract and thanked him “for his professionalism, his commitment, his dedication and his always positive treatment towards all that make up the Barca family”.
Ernesto Valverde led FC Barcelona in a total of 163 official matches, with 108 wins (66.25%), 35 draws (21.47%) and 20 losses (12.26%). His took the reins in the summer of 2017, losing the Supercopa Espana against Real Madrid but was able to drive Barça to the League and Cup double but shockingly crashed out in the quarterfinals of the Champions League to AS Roma. A repeat of the Rome 2018 debacle was repeated at Anfield in 2019 and a disappointing defeat to Valencia in the Copa del Rey final at the end of last season only increased pressure on the former Athletic Bilbao coach. It was surprising that he was able to keep his job beyond the summer then a failure in the new Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia meant his position was no longer tenable to the club. Without a doubt, Valverde did bring some success to the Camp Nou but his pragmatic style of play and his team unexpected collapse in the biggest games have raised eyebrows amongst Los Cules supporters across the globe. The 55-year-old has ultimately paid the price for his management style but to exonerate the club – the board of any blame will be unfair and unjust to the outgone coach.
The club erratic sporting policy during his time – Neymar’s departure, the club transfers from Ousmane Dembele to Philippe Coutinho to Antoine Griezmann. Sending Marc Cucurella on loan and spending on Junior Firpo to operate as back-up to Jordi Alba. From an outsider point of view, it appears the club is extremely dependent of a certain Lionel Messi who appears on the pitch, but whose shadow also seems occupy other areas.
Moving over to the new man – Quique Setien – a lover of expansive football and a purist in his football philosophy. “I’m a romantic, I like football. “I’m a spectator, and I don’t buy a ticket to watch a team stay stuck in their half waiting for a 0-0 or a counter-attack.”He says he “didn’t have much interest in looking at France on television” at the last World Cup, and preferred the self-enhancing teamwork of Japan – a team that crashed out in the round of 16.
The 61-year-old Spaniard led Real Betis to their highest finish since 2005 and to the Copa del Rey semis before leaving in May. He arrives at the Camp Nou highly regarded after managing lower-league sides, he led Las Palmas to 11th in La Liga – their best finish for 40 years – and enjoyed further success at Betis, where in his first season he led them to sixth place and qualification for the Europa League. Setien is always fascinating, though, and one of those figures who can change your thinking on football. He believes the entire debate about whether you can play certain styles with certain teams is the wrong way around.
With Barca obsession on returning to the tiki-taka style that brought success under Guardiola, the club believe they can revive their season and recreate the elegance that won them admiration across the world. Setien is a devout disciple of Cruyffian football and he will revolutionize Los Cules with the better-quality players at his disposal. There is a strong chance that he would succeed; success is a relative word for the former Las Palmas coach but right now, he is the choice of President Josep Maria Bartomeu and his board.