Thu | Jan 23, 2020

Setien realises Barcelona dream

Published:Wednesday | January 15, 2020 | 12:27 AM
Football coach Quique Setien (centre) poses with FC Barcelona’s President Josep Maria Bartomeu (left) and director of football Eric Abidal, while being officially introduced as the club’s new coach at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, yesterday. Barcelona made a rare coaching change midway through the season, replacing Ernesto Valverde with former Real Betis manager Quique Setien on Monday.
Football coach Quique Setien (centre) poses with FC Barcelona’s President Josep Maria Bartomeu (left) and director of football Eric Abidal, while being officially introduced as the club’s new coach at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, yesterday. Barcelona made a rare coaching change midway through the season, replacing Ernesto Valverde with former Real Betis manager Quique Setien on Monday.

MADRID (AP):

Before a match against Barcelona at the Camp Nou more than a year ago, then Real Betis coach Quique Setién asked Sergio Busquets for his game shirt.

He said he wanted it with a written dedication, so he could frame it.

The Barcelona midfielder complied, later sending Setién an autographed jersey with the message: “For Quique, with love and admiration for your way of looking at football. All the best.”

Real Betis won that match 4-3 in November 2018, marking the last time a team defeated Barcelona at Camp Nou.

Setién was back at the famous stadium yesterday, more than 14 months later, to be officially introduced as the coach of Barcelona, the club that for so long inspired his vision of football. He signed a contract until 2022.

Lifelong dream

The 61-year-old Spaniard often tried to get his teams to mimic Barcelona’s ball-possession and attacking-minded style, and now he will get to do it himself at the Catalan club.

“I have really enjoyed watching this team and these players on TV over the last few years,” Setién said. “They made me enjoy soccer, game after game. I still don’t think I realise what it means to be sitting on the bench coaching the best player in the world and his teammates.”

Setién said he immediately accepted the job when it was offered to him.

“I never thought Barcelona would hire me,” he said. “I don’t have a great curriculum. What I have is this philosophy that I love, but I didn’t know if that was going to be enough.”

Setién is replacing Ernesto Valverde, who was let go four days after a loss to Atlético Madrid in the semi-finals of the Spanish Super Cup. Barcelona had also drawn three of their last four Spanish league games.

Barcelona’s next game is Sunday at home against Granada in the Spanish league.

Setién led his first practice session in the morning before being officially introduced and giving his first news conference with the club.

“Not even in my greatest dreams I imagined being here. Today is a very special day for me,” Setién said. “Yesterday I was back in the ranch with my cows, today I was leading a practice session with the best players in the world.”

Setién, who Barcelona called “one of the most experienced coaches in Spanish football,” said most of his football knowledge comes from watching and playing against a Johan Cruyff-led Barcelona. He once said he would sacrifice his pinky to play for Cruyff at the Catalan club.

Meanwhile, in a letter published on Barcelona’s website, Valverde thanked the club’s players, workers and officials. He wished the players and Setién “all the luck in the world.”