Barcelona head coach Quique Setien is a dead man walking

Ollie Irish

29th, June 2020

Whose funeral is it? Mine. Oh. 

Lots of talk from Barcelona that their head coach Quique Setien (whose name makes him sound like a Star Wars bounty hunter) has lost the dressing room already and will be sacked before the start of the next Liga season. He might not even make it to the end of this one. Barca, who have failed to beat Sevilla and Celta Vigo since the restart in Spain, are now two points behind leaders Real Madrid.

During a drinks break in Barca’s recent 2-2 draw at Celta, Lionel Messi pointedly ignored two attempts from assistant coach Eder Sarabia (the guy in the mask) to speak to him:

This backs up reports of a rift between Barcelona’s players and coaching staff. Does Setien have the authority to do anything about this? Not so much. Messi is the most powerful person at the club by far. There’s only one winner there.

That situation might only change if Barca were to appoint a top-tier, alpha head coach like Jurgen Klopp, but even then, Messi has carried Barca for so long that he is pretty much untouchable.

A bigger problem is the anonymous form of Antoine Griezmann. The French World Cup winner, who Barca chased for two years, is a marginalised figure. There are rumours that Messi and Luis Suarez don’t get on with him. If Griezmann is a bust, you can file him alongside Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele, two other marquee signings who have failed to escape from Messi’s shadow in recent years. Another star signing, Frenkie De Jong, is also struggling to adapt to life after Ajax.

Perhaps Setien’s biggest problem is a lack of emotional connection to the club. He is not a part of Barcelona’s history, not beloved by fans for past efforts, as the likes of Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique were. Setien is a Racing Santander legend (he was born in Santander). He made more than 300 appearances for the club during his two spells there. He also managed them. He will never need to buy a sherry in Santander. All that credit is of worthless in Barcelona.

Barca (11 managers in the last 20 years) haven’t been quite as trigger happy as rivals Real Madrid (15 managers in the same period), but this is familiar ground: manager with a minor profile joins massive club and fails to grow into the role, or simply isn’t given the time to do so. Almost certainly, Setien is a dead man walking, and even winning a trophy this year won’t save him.

How it might go down:

“Anyone else want to drop out?” is a Zorin zinger.

In fact, as Bond villain Max Zorin doesn’t come up in football conversation very often, I should not waste this opportunity to post a personal favourite:

How this doesn’t have more than ten million views, I’ll never know.

Posted in Barcelona

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