There can’t be too many coaches that are given the sack when their team is top of the league, but that’s precisely what happened to Ernesto Valverde earlier this season.
Barcelona’s demanding fan base had been calling for his head for at least 12 months, and the board finally caved into the pressure – at the worst possible moment.
Their choice to replace Valverde was Quique Setien.The former Real Betis coach had won many plaudits for his time with the verdiblancos, not least because his teams were renowned for playing an exciting and attacking brand of football.
Even if they let in two or three, they’d score three or four, and it made for fabulous entertainment.
When the announcement was made, it’s fair to say that Barcelona’s supporters were cock-a-hoop at the news, and immediately signalled on social media and elsewhere that things were about to get very much better.
How wrong they were.
It’s now six months that Setien has been in the Barca hot-seat, albeit three months of that time was spent in quarantine.
In any event, the team still isn’t playing in the swashbuckling manner expected – and never has under Setien quite frankly – and they can’t seem to win an important away game under their new coach.
Against Sevilla last Friday night, Barcelona were abysmal, and when was the last time an accusation like that could be levelled against them.
Setien’s decisions on his starting XI and then who he brought on were poor, his tactics too left a lot to be desired.
Clearly, the club can’t change the coach again until the summer, but the current incumbent has done himself no favours if he’s looking for an extended tenure in the Camp Nou hot-seat.
There’s continuing talk of Lautaro Martinez and Neymar joining in the summer, and however unlikely that might seem, in football you can never say never.
The issue is that Setien has proven that he’s not the right coach for the club and arguably has shown that he doesn’t have the backbone to make some tough decisions either.
Both Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez were terrible in Andalusia, but Setien persisted with them both for the entire 90 minutes.
His brief was clear when he took over – win everything. In an advantageous position in the league despite their worst start for 25 years, Setien has, somehow, made things even worse.
If he has a decent bone in his body, he’ll offer his resignation after the final game of the season.