Only winning La Liga or the Champions League will save Quique Setien’s job at Barcelona, amid reports of a growing rift between the players and coaching staff at Camp Nou.
61-year-old head coach Setien signed on as head coach in January, following Ernesto Valverde’s dismissal. While Valverde’s was an equally divisive figure at Barcelona, he did leave with the club top of the table, having delivered consecutive league titles.
Setien’s Barça are now two points behind Real Madrid in the title race, have drawn two of their last three, as well as losing the Clasico shortly before the hiatus.
Marca reports that following the most recent slip-up – the 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo at Balaidos on Saturday – there was a ‘tense discussion’ between the players and coach in the away dressing room.
It is said that some players ‘reproached’ Setien for his tactical decisions, while there is a supposed lack of faith in the manager’s ability to deliver trophies.
Goal, meanwhile, report that Setien – who was handed a two-and-a-half-year contract in January – will inevitably lose his job this summer, unless there is a ‘significant upswing’ in results, with catching Real Madrid or lifting the Champions League the only real routes to earning a stay of the execution.
The worry is that, with performances mixed, this could be the first trophy-less season for Barcelona since 2007/08.
Goal’s report specifically notes the rampant player power at Barcelona, with key stars turning the dressing room against the coach’s methods, while assistant manager Eder Sarabia remains a ‘very a unpopular figure’. Viral footage even appeared to show Lionel Messi walking away from a group huddle as Sarabia approaches to give instructions during a water break.
Setien was quick to play down the caught-on-camera incident after the game, however.
“In reality, it is true that there are always controversies, as in life, and it is normal that there are differences,” the Barça coach said, via AS.
“But this has always happened. I was not an easy player either. What we have to try to do is to convince everyone of the common idea.
“I understand it as something natural. There is good communication. I don’t give it any importance.”
Setien was, famously, not Barcelona’s first choice in January, with club legends Ronald Koeman and Xavi Hernandez both approached before the ex-Real Betis manager.
To add more pressure onto Setien, Xavi has confirmed to the press that he is already ‘preparing’ to return to Camp Nou in the near future.