Barcelona fires manager Ernesto Valverde, hires Quique Setien

Wednesday, 15 Jan, 2020

Quique Setien began his first session as Barcelona coach on Tuesday morning just as the sacked Ernesto Valverde drove out of the training ground for the last time.

The Barcelona faithful had increasingly lamented Valverde's stolid and overly pragmatic style, with little sign of improvement so far this campaign.

Ever since that Anfield debacle, Valverde was on borrowed time in the Barca hotseat.

The 61-year-old former Racing Santander and Real Betis boss takes over with the Catalonia club top of LaLiga.

Dutch icon Cruyff famously bestowed the hallowed fast-paced, passing and possession-based playing approach to Barcelona during his years as manager during the late 1980s and start of the 1990s.

After Real Betis' thrilling 4-3 victory over Barcelona in November 2018, midfielder Sergio Busquets gifted then-Betis manager Quique Setien his shirt with a personal message written on the back.

But Barcelona's performances have been unconvincing - they have drawn three of their last four league games - and the flaws in the Spanish Super Cup semi-final loss to Atletico Madrid on Thursday, in which they conceded two late goals, felt all too familiar.

Valverde, 55, was in the midst of his third season at the club and leaves with two La Liga titles and a Copa del Rey crown to his name.

He said: "He has the philosophy of Xavi, [Pep] Guardiola, the football club's philosophy after the 90s with Johan Cruyff".

Xavi, now the coach of Qatari team Al-Sadd, indicated he is not prepared to take charge immediately but the negotiations left Valverde in limbo. He has also coached Racing, Poli Ejido, Logrones and, for one game, Equatorial Guinea.

Barcelona directors have been left in the dark over the removal of Ernesto Valverde, it has been revealed.

Setien's coaching career started with Racing, but he moved to fellow Segunda Division side Polideportivo Ejido and then he next became an global manager.

"Setien: a coach with Barca DNA and "in love" with Messi", wrote Spanish newspaper Diario AS about his appointment.

"The first time that happened it opened up a new world to me".

Setien's primary task will be to hold off a resurgent Real Madrid in a neck-and-neck title race after Valverde managed to sustain the domestic dominance enjoyed by Barcelona over the last decade.

His second season in charge was a frustrating one, as the club languished for much of it in the bottom half of the table and failed to build on the previous term's success.

"I started to really watch football". It hasn't won the European competition since 2015.