Naïm Beneddra, published on Tuesday January 14, 2020 at 9:54 am
After several days of waiting, the verdict fell late Monday evening. FC Barcelona has ended Ernesto Valverde's mission as head coach. The Catalan leaders turned the page on the Basque technician and immediately opened a new one with the enthronement of Quique Setien as the new coach of the team. At 61, he is suddenly propelled to the forefront with the first major challenge of his career. He has something to approach him with excitement, ambition but also perhaps apprehension.
Because it is never easy to take the reins of a club as prestigious as Barça and even less along the way. This lover of the beautiful game surely overflows with ideas and it is a safe bet that he will do everything to apply them on the side of Camp Nou. However, his plans come up against an imperative: that of being efficient quickly. The first matches will certainly provide an answer concerning the compatibility between what he intends to put in place and the sequence of good results. And meanwhile, we can already list the different important tasks that await him in Catalan soil. The ones for which he was certainly chosen.
Restoring confidence in the group
Barça are currently on a setback against Atlético Madrid in the semi-final of the Spanish Super Cup. It was the first since November 2 (against Levante). However, in the last five meetings that the Blaugrana have disputed, they have signed only one success (against Deportivo Alaves). Faced with this series of snags, and even if the team remains the La Liga leader and still in the Champions League and Copa Del Rey races, the morale of the troops has certainly been affected. It is the responsibility of the new coach to remedy this. By a mobilizing speech, by reassuring words but also by convincing his locker room that his project is solid and that he is able to bring the club to the top as long as everyone follows him.
Give Barça a style that matches its DNA
This is certainly not the priority of the moment, but it is hard to imagine Quique Setien turning away from his precepts as soon as he takes office. The former coach of the Betis of Seville has never departed from his principles and he will probably remain loyal to Barça. This is good, his philosophy of play corresponds well to that advocated by the club, or advocated more precisely. Because for several seasons, and even if there have been very successful campaigns, the first team has not displayed a face capable of seducing its most loyal socios. After the departure of Pep Guardiola, no coach really managed to develop the team with a style that matches his DNA: this game carried forward, made a touch of the ball and a constant and suffocating pressing loss of leather. It is not certain that Quique Sétien will take up the challenge, but we can be sure that he will try.
Quique Setien must find the right formula in attack
Quique Setien did not land in optimal conditions at Barça. What could be more normal when there is a change in the technical bar in the middle of the season. However, in addition to the (semi) earnings crisis, he also faces a few defections within his team. He will be deprived of Luis Suarez until the end of the season. The Uruguayan is an essential part of the starting lineup blaugrana. Valverde's mission was to find the solution to make the team shine without El Pistolero, before passing on the hot potato to his successor. The former Betis coach can count on the French Ousmane Dembélé and Antoine Griezmann to facilitate his task and explore the different options in this sector. Finally, one can imagine that the role of Lionel Messi, the captain and star of the team, should be predominant in this endeavor. Because if Quique Setien is not one to be dictated by the players, no coach has succeeded at Barça without the full consent of the Pulga.
Anticipating departures of alumni
It is the least urgent of the tasks presented to Quique Setien, but perhaps not the least important. Having signed until 2022, the Spanish coach left to stay a good time in Barcelona, if all goes well. Thus, it is obliged to prepare the campaigns to come, while making sure that the current one is as successful as possible. This involves planning and preparing a group. He is not responsible for recruitment, and in this sense he does not have a monopoly on the movements that could occur. But, with his current team, he can at least anticipate a change of era by offering playing time to those who will have to play more often in the future. Soon the Pique, Busquets, Suarez and co will no longer be at the club, and it seems important to prepare the next generation so as not to be confronted with an excessively brutal change of cycle.