Quique Setien

Barcelona this evening sacked Quique Setién after eight months in charge, citing a “wider restructuring of the first team”. The unsurprising move to sack their second manager this season comes following their European humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich in the quarterfinal on Friday night.

The embarrassing 8-2 loss is a capitulation of the dearth of quality combined with poor recruitment strategy for this ageing squad in recent years. The 2019/20 squad became the first-ever team to concede eight times in a Champions League knockout game and the first Barcelona side to concede eight since 1946.

Four Champions League quarter-final exits in the last five seasons tell their own story of a club losing its standing as a benchmark in European football. The lack of a La Liga title cushion – taken emphatically by Real Madrid in 2019/20 – and a first trophyless campaign since 2008 is the reality check Barcelona as a club needed after recent years of shambolic decision-making.

The Mes Que un Club motto is now only a subject of ridicule as the club’s actions have been anything but. For a club that prides itself in an almost self-sustainable system of fantastic talent production, with their unique footballing philosophy to maintain the historic standards; Since receiving Neymar’s world-record transfer fee, the Catalans have splashed almost €800 million in consecutive transfer windows on the likes of Ousmane Dembélé, Philippe Coutinho and Antoine Griezmann. On the other hand, few La Masia graduates have come through to have a consistent impact on the first team since the old band who require urgent refreshing.

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The average age of their starting lineup was the oldest in their Champions League history at 29 years 329 days and it was glaring against Bayern’s relentless side. Thiago Alcântara had the kind of world-class performance Barca’s coaches saw in him those years ago rising through the ranks up to the first team.

Quite frankly, years of over-dependence on 33-year-old Lionel Messi have finally caught up with them.

Lionel Messi
Dejected: Lionel Messi has been a one-man team for two seasons running. (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

To compound matters, all superstar signings have turned expensive flops. Dembélé, whose talent is clear when fit, has struggled to consistently appear and deliver on the pitch, or stay out of trouble off it. Griezmann has so far looked a square peg in round holes all over Barca’s attack, whilst Coutinho suffered a similar fate before going out on loan to Bayern and then turning the screw on his employers with a late brace and an assist off the bench.

Seismic Changes ahead

Right now, Barcelona need a Hansi Flick-type revival on the pitch to ensure stability with the club’s presidential elections now scheduled for March 2021.

Netherlands manager, Ronald Koeman, is expected to be handed the reins having been linked with the job several times in recent years.

Having blazed a trail for attacking centre-backs as a Barca player, Ronald Koeman’s 90 goals make him the most prolific defender in the world. The 57-year-old is Barca’s highest-scoring defender in history and second-highest in La Liga when Sergio Ramos surpassed that record in the just-concluded season. 

The former Southampton and Everton manager won 12 trophies at Barcelona including four La Liga titles in a row and scored the winning goal in the 1991/92 European Cup final, securing the club’s first ever trophy in the competition. He was a key member of Johan Cruyff’s famous Dream Team and will be tasked with instilling the ethos of the club like his late mentor did.

Barcelona players
Ronald Koeman will be tasked with restoring the soul back to the Barca players. (AFP)

Koeman’s influence and legendary status at the Nou Camp is the first step to getting back their identity with someone who makes up the fundamental history of the club, and embodies the football culture around the club.

It will be insightful to see how the recruitment system changes with Director of Football, Eric Abidal, also set to leave his post after some questionable transfer decisions and public disagreements with players.


Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.


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