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Barcelona Chases Guardiola’s Blueprint; Hiring Setién is a Shambolic Mistake

Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:29 PM
Simon Fletcher
Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:29 PM
  • Quique Setién has never managed at an elite level.
  • New coach appears to be Valverde 2.0.
  • Barcelona should have gone back to its roots or gone bold.

After the shambles of Valverde’s protracted firing, FC Barcelona has taken the uninspired, conservative route once more. This is not an appointment their biggest rivals will be losing too much sleep over.

So, thanks for the memories, Ernesto, it was fun. Apart from when it was Roma, Liverpool, or Jeddah.

Back to back La Liga titles and a Copa del Rey was not enough to mask over the tactical horror shows that saw Barcelona implode in the last two editions of the Champions League. These memories suddenly brought back to the fore with last week’s loss in Jeddah to Atlético. The history repeating itself manner of that defeat the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The club then embarrassed itself with the way it handled Valverde’s firing and his replacement hardly sets the pulse racing.

Quique who?

Setién. Still not sure?

Quique Setién is a known scholar of the beautiful game. He loves Guardiola, Cryuff, Messi, and Busquets, and once said he would cut off one of his fingers to play for FC Barcelona.

The problem is that while all of this might sound kind of good, it also doesn’t qualify him to take on one of the biggest jobs in world football.

Setién has zero experience at the very top levels of management. Other than a couple of decent seasons where his Betis team managed to finish sixth and once beat Barcelona 3-4 at the Camp Nou , Setién has done very little of note.

In fact, his recent coaching history has some similarities to Ernesto Valverde’s with Atheltic Bilboa before he became Barcelona coach. At least Valverde had actually played for Barcelona. And as a coach, he had won the league in Greece and qualified Bilboa for the Champions League.

Wait, Quique Setién does have international level management experience. He once coached Equatorial Guinea , for one game.

Barcelona stuck at being Barcelona

The appointment of Setién seems to suggest the Barcelona board thinks anybody who likes to play the beautiful game can simply be plugged into the machine and that everything will work itself out.

In La Liga that might just about work given the immense economic disparity between Madrid, Barcelona and the rest. In the Champions League, it won’t wash.

Setién appears to be an affable man who is no doubt a good coach. He will be over the moon to have been given this opportunity, but he is not going to rock the boat.

It will be business as usual at the club. The powerful group of captains led by Messi and Pique will be the ones who continue to wield the real power. And Setién will be the one who takes the fall when it all comes crumbling down again.

Xavi Or a New Age

Yes, everybody loved Guardiola’s Barcelona. Luis Enrique’s version was less pleasing on the eye but almost equally effective. But this is all in the past. At the moment, Barcelona appears to be a club unable to let go.

A more inspiring move at this juncture would have been to go all-in on that dream of yesteryear and bring back Xavi in the summer. The captain of those great sides from the past may not have a lot of managerial experience, but he’s Xavi. The power would have automatically shifted back to the coach and a real change may have come.

Or, the directors could have got really brave and gone in a completely new direction. A young fearless coach, such as Julian Nangelsmann , could have been brought in to bring about a Klopp-style revolution at Can Barça. Heads would have rolled, for sure, but it would have been a move that embraced a brand new and exciting future.

Instead, Barcelona looks like it is just happy to tread the same water.