Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Barca sack Valverde and appoint Setien

Barca sack Valverde and appoint Setien

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Ernesto Valverde has been sacked as coach of Spanish champions Barcelona, with Quique Setien appointed as his replacement, the club announced on Monday. AFP

Barca sack Valverde and appoint Setien

Spanish champions Barcelona have sacked their coach Ernesto Valverde and appointed Quique Setien as his replacement, the club announced on Monday.

The decision to remove Valverde was confirmed following a board meeting that lasted more than four hours at Camp Nou on Monday afternoon.

Barca are top of La Liga but have won only one of their last five matches. Valverde is the first coach the club has sacked mid-season since Louis van Gaal in 2003.

“FC Barcelona and Ernesto Valverde have reached an agreement to terminate the contract that united both parties,” read a club statement released on Monday night.

Setien was to be presented at a press conference at Camp Nou at 2:30pm local time (1330 GMT) on Tuesday.

“Barcelona and Quique Setien have reached an agreement for the latter to become first team coach until 30 June 2022,” the club said.

“Setien is one of the most experienced coaches in Spanish football,” it added. “Throughout his career he has been a proponent of possession-based, attacking football that has been attractive to the fans.”

His first game in charge will be at home to Granada on Sunday. Barcelona play Napoli in the last 16 of the Champions League next month and Real Madrid in the league at the start of March.

Setien has made no secret of his admiration for the stylistic traditions of Barcelona, with the 61-year-old also renowned for favouring an exciting, offensive mode of football.

A former player of Atletico Madrid and Racing Santander, he was circled as a potential Barca coach during a particularly successful period in charge of Real Betis.

Setien led Betis to a sixth-place finish in 2018 and qualification for the Europa League but, despite overseeing a thrilling 4-3 victory at Camp Nou early the following season, results tailed off.

Betis finished 10th and the club and coach parted ways in the summer. Previously, he also helped Las Palmas avoid relegation from La Liga in 2016.

A footballing purist, Setien and Barcelona would seem a good fit, particularly if the players feel released from some of Valverde’s more pragmatic tendencies.

But critics of Setien would argue style often takes precedence over substance, and it remains to be seen how he handles the pressure of matching aesthetics with results at one of the world’s most demanding clubs.

He will also have to do without Luis Suarez, who will be missing for the next four months after having surgery on his right knee.

Europe haunted Valverde

Doubts had surrounded Valverde for several months and were underpinned by two disastrous exits from the Champions League.

Barcelona’s shocking collapse against Roma in 2018 was followed by a similar capitulation against Liverpool last year.

Familiar fragility had been evident this season, and a 3-2 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup on Thursday, in which Barcelona conceded two late goals, prompted the board to act.

Valverde arrived two hours early for his last training session with the squad at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper on Monday morning before meeting with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Bartomeu then drove to Camp Nou, where he held a board meeting with several club officials including chief executive Oscar Grau, technical secretary Javier Bordas, vice-president Jordi Cardoner and sporting director Eric Abidal.

Grau and Abidal had returned to Barcelona on Sunday after spending the weekend in Qatar, where they had offered the job to Xavi, only for the club’s iconic former midfielder to indicate he was not ready to come immediately.

In Valverde’s two seasons, his team won two La Liga titles, as well as the Copa del Rey in 2018, and another league success remained very much in sight this term, despite Real’s impressive form in recent weeks.

But Barca’s performances have been unconvincing and there were lingering concerns about Valverde’s more functional tactics, which appear to have informed the switch to Setien.

When Valverde arrived in 2017, Barcelona were wounded, hurting after the shock departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain and humiliated, as consecutive defeats by Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup hinted at trouble for the season ahead.

Instead, he steadied the ship and galvanised the team.

They lost one league game en route to winning the title and the year after, they were champions again, finishing 11 points ahead of Atletico and 19 clear of Real.

Increasingly, though, Valverde’s achievements faded from view and his failures began to overshadow them. On Monday, Barcelona decided his time was up.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Koh Rong land ‘belongs to firm’

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008. Phearum said the land does

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors

  • Vietnam told to remove border tents

    Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophoan has ordered local authorities to prohibit the construction of buildings in areas bordering Cambodia and to report any irregularities immediately. Recently, Vietnamese officials removed another seven tents from the border area with Cambodia. His remarks were made on Wednesday afternoon