Setien's Ethos a match for Barca

Above: Quique Setien is flanked by his new employers, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu (left) and director of football Eric Abidal. Right: Ernesto Valverde will depart the Nou Camp with his team atop La Liga. PHOTOS: REUTERS
Quique Setien is flanked by his new employers, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu (left) and director of football Eric Abidal. PHOTO: REUTERS
Above: Quique Setien is flanked by his new employers, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu (left) and director of football Eric Abidal. Right: Ernesto Valverde will depart the Nou Camp with his team atop La Liga. PHOTOS: REUTERS
Ernesto Valverde will depart the Nou Camp with his team atop La Liga.PHOTO: REUTERS

New coach, a keen disciple of club legend Cruyff, thrilled to take helm at Nou Camp

BARCELONA • Before their La Liga game against Barcelona at the Nou Camp in November 2018, then Real Betis coach Quique Setien asked Sergio Busquets for his shirt.

He said he wanted it with a written dedication, so he could frame it.

The Barcelona midfielder complied, later sending Setien an autographed jersey with the message: "For Quique, with love and admiration for your way of looking at football. All the best."

Real Betis won that match 4-3, marking the last time the Catalan giants were beaten at home.

Setien was yesterday officially introduced as the coach of Barcelona, the club that, for so long, inspired his vision of how football should be played.

While the 61-year-old has yet to win major silverware despite coaching for 19 years with Betis being his biggest project, he has won plaudits for being a purist and a disciple of Johann Cruyff, the Dutch legend revered at the Catalan club both as a player and coach.

He even once said he would cut off his little finger to be given the chance to play for the late Cruyff "because I could see just how much the footballers were enjoying themselves (under him)".

At his unveiling, Setien, who was out of work after leaving Betis last season, cut an emotional figure after landing his dream job. He signed a deal until 2022 following Ernesto Valverde's sacking on Monday, but promised to live up to the club's attacking ethos.

That was something his predecessor failed to do despite lifting two consecutive La Liga titles and successive capitulations in Europe rankled fans.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, a former coach at the Nou Camp, called Barcelona "a special place, where winning the league is not enough" and Setien acknowledged the demands that have been placed upon him.

"Yesterday, I was walking beside the cows in my village," he said. "Today, I'm coaching the best players in the world. There are many things we are clear about and we are going to try to transmit them and make sure they are not just words. The demands and standards of this club ask that of you constantly."

 

During his 2½-year spell, Valverde was accused of indulging his team. Setien was quick to insist it is now a different era.

The Spaniard said: "I've enjoyed myself watching Barca and these players over the last few years. One thing is admiration and another thing is that everyone has to be in their place."

And despite the sceptics who feel that he is merely a seat warmer for a bigger appointment in the summer, the club appear confident he can bring back "possession-based, attacking football that is attractive to the fans".

He has a lot to prove, though, with Spanish football expert Guillem Balague telling the BBC the task that lies in front of him is "easier said than done".

Valverde also alluded to the pressure he faced in his farewell letter, saying: "It has been intense from the start. In that time, I've enjoyed some joyful moments, but also others that have been tough."

ASSOCIATED PRESS


QUIQUE SETIEN

NICKNAME El Maestro

AGE 61

COACHING CAREER

TEAMS La Liga - Las Palmas, Real Betis; Guinea national team

HONOURS

Won La Liga 2nd division B (third tier) with Lugo (2010-11)

BEST LA LIGA FINISH

Sixth with Real Betis (2017-2018, qualified for Europa League)

PLAYING CAREER

POSITION Central midfielder

TEAMS Racing Santander, Atletico Madrid, Logrones, Levante

HONOURS

Spanish Super Cup winner with Atletico (1985)

CAPS 3 for Spain (1985-1986)

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2020, with the headline 'Setien's Ethos a match for Barca'. Print Edition | Subscribe