Introducing Quique Setien: Barcelona’s new Johan Cruyff and Lionel Messi-loving manager
Barcelona are set to enter a new era after appointing Quique Setien as their new manager.
The Catalan giants wasted no time in naming the relatively unknown tactician as their next boss after sacking Ernesto Valverde.
A legend at local club Racing Santander from his playing days, known as ‘El Maestro’, Setien returns to work after leaving Real Betis in the summer.
He steps back into the dugout in arguably the biggest job in world football, inheriting a side top of La Liga but desperately eyeing a return to Champions League glory.
But just who is the man looking to make magic with a club synonymous with managerial legends such as Johan Cruyff, Pep Guardiola and Frank Rijkard?
Here’s a look at the mental make-up and philosophy of Setien in his own words, which led him to the Nou Camp.
The successful audition
Nobody knew it at the time – but November 11, 2018 was a sign of things to come for Quique Setien.
After more than two years unbeaten at the Nou Camp, Setien guided Real Betis to a stunning 4-3 success to stun the Catalan giants.
They have not lost at home since – and it is easy to see that game being viewed as a successful audition for Setien.
After the game, he was sought out by Sergio Busquets, clearly a big fan, who handed the manager his shirt with a message stating: “For Quique with love and admiration for your way of looking at football. All the best.”
Setien left delighted by the biggest win of his career and left talking up his desire to establish a Barcelona-like identity.
“Barcelona has been setting the standard for 20 to 25 years and we are trying to establish our identity,” Setien said.
“Barcelona’s fans have been watching this kind of football for many years, while we are still apprentices.
“I am thrilled with our match today. It is a huge boost to what we are doing because there are some people who don’t believe in this way of playing.”
But in the bigger picture, that day clearly won him many admirers at the Nou Camp.
Two key influences
Setien has made no attempts to hide his football philosophy – and it all comes back to one man.
Johan Cruyff is considered Barcelona’s most influential figure after his pioneering transformation of the club.
He also struck a cord with Setien, a self-confessed Cruyff disciple, meaning his legacy will live on into a new dawn.
“I remember when Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona came along,” Setien told The Coaches’ Voice in 2019.
“You played against them, and you spent the whole match running after the ball. I said to myself: ‘This is what I like. I would like to be in this team, and know why this is happening.’
“How can you get a team to have the ball permanently, so that the opponent is running after it for the whole match?
“From then on, I started to make sense of what I had felt throughout life, through my career.
“I started to really watch football. To analyse it. To understand what I felt, and what I wanted to put into practice when I became a coach.”
But Cruyff is not Setien’s only key influence.
A top quality chess player who has taken on numerous legends of the game, he claims the tactical battle has taught him “patience, capacity for analysis, emotional control”
“And perspective,” Setien added in a recent interview with El Periodico. “It’s not about where the pieces are now, but where they will be after a series of moves.”
Lionel Messi admiration
Taking on the Barcelona job means inheriting arguably the greatest player in the history of the game.
Understandably, Setien is a Messi admirer – and he has expressed his love of the Argentinian master in person in the past when invted to Barcelona during Pep Guardiola’s reign.
“One day, invited by Guardiola, I had the opportunity to watch Messi train from the side of the pitch,” Setien told El Pais, as quoted by Marca .
“I went up to him and I asked him to keep playing until I was 60 years old, at least until I die.”