In case you have not noticed, Barcelona is under new Management. The change was made in the middle of the season. They were top of the La Liga, although they just lost in the Spanish Super Cup to Atletico Madrid. A relatively irrelevant game in the grand scheme of things.
Now, according to sources, Valverde’s style of play did not sit well with the Barcelona faithful. However, it seemed like his only downfall- or downfalls- were the second-leg defeats to Roma and Liverpool in the 2018 and 2019 Champions League seasons respectively.
The first question goes thus: if Valverde and Barcelona won at least on Champions League medal while he was in charge, would he have been fired with the same reasons that were given?
Under Setien, the results read thus: P4W3L1. Not a bad record for a new manager. However, when you take over from a Manager that was joint top in the League, top at the group stages of the Champions League, those results are nothing extraordinary. Admittedly, the Manager needs time to understand his team and adjust accordingly. However, this is Barcelona, the clock is already ticking. Just ask Mr. Valverde.
On the flip side, prior to Ernesto Valverde taking over at Barcelona, he managed Athletic Bilbao- his second spell there- where he had a very good record, obviously defeating Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup during his spell there being one of them. While in Barcelona, he won consecutive League titles, winning a double in his first season. Obviously, the decision made by Barcelona in hindsight seemed a more philosophical one than a results one.
For Setien, he possesses less coaching success compared to Valverde- a risk on Barcelona’s part. However, the brand of football his team plays – albeit without winning trophies- seems to be what Barcelona fell in love with.
This obviously brings up the old question of style versus substance. Would you rather manage a team, play a certain way at the expense of consistently winning or would you discard all the aesthetics and focus solely on winning? We obviously now what Barcelona has decided. It seems like there are more troubling issues in Barcelona- like the endless search for who would replace one of the greatest ever footballers when he leaves/retires.
We would see how this love story goes.