What happened before Setién?
Barcelona won their Champions League group and was on top of the league table by the new year of 2020 on goal difference in La Liga. But poor performances and a period in December and January that saw them win only one in five matches meant Ernesto Valverde's position came under pressure. On 13 January 2020, Valverde was sacked by Football Club Barcelona, with his last game being a 3–2 defeat to Atlético Madrid in the Supercopa de España.
Arrival of Quique Setién
Quique SetiénEl Maestro during his playing career and his managerial career, Setién proved himself to be one of the most talented and tactically sound managers of La Liga. An avid believer of Johan Cruyff's philosophy and Barcelona fan Setién was busy on his farm in Santander when got the rumour of signing for Barcelona.
His dream came true. The Ex-Betis boss was appointed in January 2020 to continue Barcelona’s journey to win La Liga win again and perform well in the Champions League after their humiliation at Rome and Anfield.
What went wrong
He started the season with a positive attitude and Barca performed quite well under him. They were pressing more, which is a fundamental element of Setién philosophy and they were playing more direct football. But rifts came along when his assistant coach clashed with Club Captain Leo Messi. Setién became a mere spectator and he was late to get the situation under control. The aura of a big player and big attitude was hindering him and his tactics. When reflecting on his seven-month spell at Barcelona, Setién admits that he somewhat veered away from the philosophy he implemented at the likes of Las Palmas and Real Betis.
Setién was sacked by Barça following a tumultuous 2019-20 season which saw the club dethroned by bitter rivals Real Madrid in LaLiga and humiliated 2-8 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.
After three months of his sacking Former Barcelona coach Quique Setién opened up about his time in Barcelona. Setién was full of praise for Messi in an interview with Vicente Del Bosque published on Sunday's edition of El País but reflected on a difficult period with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner in Barcelona.
Setién said – “
Being the coach of one of the most celebrated and accomplished global icon can be a daunting task. Especially if you are someone without any major accolade or not known for their extreme level of command in a dressing room. Setién was a reserved person. He came to light not for his glamour but for his rigorous and absolute philosophy of football. His style of aggressive football in Real Betis shocked everyone and away at Betis was considered to be a tricky fixture in La Liga.
But Leo Messi and his impact is unfathomable. Setién further explained-
"I think Messi is the best of all time. There have been other great players who have been great, but the continuity that this boy has had throughout the years has not been had by anyone.”
To discuss the matter with Messi Setién cited an example of Basketball legend Michael Jordan-
“It's something inherent in many athletes that can be seen in the Michael Jordan documentary ['The Last Dance']. You see things you don't expect. He's very reserved but he makes you see the things that he wants. He doesn't talk much."
When asked about why he was not confronted with the board about him losing the control of the dressing room; he got defensive. His words being-
Setién concluded the interview saying that he wasn’t being able to himself at the club. He didn’t have the time and resources to be himself. After the lockdown when Barca slipped their advantage to Real Madrid, they were strangely demotivated. Even though his spell was dull but his spell will be very significant in Barcelona history. It ultimately lead to the resign of the entire Barca board by October 2020. which could prove to a new era or a slippery slope from there on.