Sudden reports suggest that Quique Setién could be shown the door before the closure of this season. But is the problem at Barcelona really restricted to a change of coach, or is it much more deep rooted?
It has been less than six months since Barcelona parted ways with Ernesto Valverde. After what seemed like an eternity of monotonous anti-Barcelona football, fans all over the world celebrated the arrival of Quique Setién to the driver’s seat. He was supposed to be the harbinger of nostalgic football, the one to make the most of what is left of the golden generation. Yet just five months into his spell, he finds himself at the edge of the cliff. According to reports from goal, Barcelona is already looking to change the coach with multiple players being “unhappy” with his ideologies.
The problem is much deeper than it appears
Power is a very dangerous thing in the world of football. Three institutions challenge for the power at any club: The board, the coach and the players. Barcelona has problems at multiple strata.
The outrage against the current board has been steadily increasing with every passing day. Arthur Melo‘s transfer, however, was definitely the final nail in the coffin before the patience of supporters broke. The decisions taken by president Josep Maria Bartomeu and Co. are clearly completely financially oriented. There is evidently a lack of focus on the footballing aspect of the club.
No adequate steps to take care of the future, mind-boggling sums given off as transfer fees to get Galáctico signings re-affirm this mindset. Blind renewals of contracts of senior players with colossal salaries make them almost impossible to move on at any time in the near future.
“We all know Setién is a huge fan of Johan Cruyff’s style and we share the same objectives. What I like most is the communication he has with his players, his way of working, his way of coaching”
Josep Maria Bartomeu
during the presentation of Quique Setién in January
When a board has placed trust in a manager to rebuild a clearly broken team, it is expected that he will be given time to work his way with the squad. But just five months in and reports suggest that more than half the board members want Quique Setién to be shown the door at the earliest!
The future of this club can not be expected to sorted under this board. They are completely result-oriented and least concerned about the footballing project. The recent transfer record is testament to this.
Players having power is not ideal by any means. Losing the dressing room is as good as losing their job for managers. While media reports suggest that Setién “lost the dressing room’‘, it is safe to say that Quique never had the dressing room to begin with. Agreed that he hasn’t proved himself at any big clubs or won any titles. It is also true that he is stubborn about playing a certain brand of football. Nevertheless, the dressing room never really backed him. Multiple episodes starting with assistant Eder Sarabia having to publicly apologise to the players, to Luis Suárez’s post-match comments after the draw against Celta de Vigo justify this.
“The problem in away games? That’s something the coach needs to analyse. We just give our everything”
after another away draw against Celta de Vigo
Unquestionably, most of the senior players in the squad were extensively pampered under Ernesto Valverde’s reign. Guaranteed starting roles, not much tracking back on the field and less ground to cover were just a few of the let-offs they enjoyed. They stayed silent through the shameless European night at Rome and Anfield, defending their manager who clearly made mistakes. But here they are, ready to pounce on Setién just five months into his tenure?
Of what use is a change in coach at Barcelona if the players are unwilling to do what is asked of them!
Will a change of coach do any good to Barcelona?
Quique Setién can be demanding and harsh on players, but he definitely has brought about a positive change in the gameplay. The finish line is still a long distance away, but there are certainly visible positive changes in the brand of football. At such a stage, changing the manager certainly doesn’t seem like a sensible option for the club. He has been given hardly any time to make any changes, and showing him the door now would just be another display of lack of faith in their own decisions.
Looking at what has happened with Arthur Melo, Philippe Coutinho, Malcom and now Setién will surely seed a doubt into the heads of any aspiring players or managers who want to join the Catalans.
What should Setién do now?
The best option on the table for the Barcelona boss is to do exactly what he has been doing for so long. Stay oblivious of the media and circulating news, and stay focused on the job at hand. Every game is a must-win game at this stage. With the massive game against Atlético de Madrid coming up, no distractions can be entertained.
It is indeed shameless to see both the players and the board ganging up to scapegoat the manager when the issues stretch far beyond. What this club needs is a complete rebuild, from the grassroots level. Such a change cannot be brought about until the elections bring a capable candidate on board. Quique Setién may have till the end of august to save his job, and he has to work tooth and nail to show something special that lets him hang on.