Quique Setién will be under pressure from the start as he hopes to take Barcelona up another gear after Ernesto Valverde’s dismissal. Setién is taking over a team that is in first place in La Liga, so there is certainly room to do worse. However, Valverde’s failures in the UEFA Champions League in the past clearly show room for improvement.
Setién won’t have the luxuries a manager usually has when coming in during the summer. He won’t get to pick new players or ship out players he thinks are no longer a good fit. He won’t have preseason to get his team drilled into the way he likes to play.
Instead, he needs to hit the ground running right away, with any slip in the league likely to mean Real Madrid go top. And he has to do it while changing the style of the team from the somewhat conservative Valverde era.
Setién’s appointment promises a return to a more expansive way of playing, and perhaps a variation from the 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 systems under Valverde. But can he do it with these players, and at this moment?
He’ll also be without Luis Suárez, who was Barcelona’s main source of goals lately. While the Uruguayan’s absence could have a silver lining in terms of allowing Setién to play with more mobile players, it will be a miss in terms of scoring. The presence of Antoine Griezmann will be more important than ever, and we will see whether the new system will help him more than his old role.
Competition for La Liga and the UEFA Champions League will be fierce with Real Madrid posing a big threat domestically and teams such as Liverpool, Manchester City, and Bayern Munich also a threat continentally.
Barcelona’s older core of players need a system that will use their qualities and hide their weaknesses. Valverde argued that was the point of his approach, but let’s see if Setién can achieve better results with a new way of doing things.
And we will see whether he can get more out of the youngsters than Valverde, especially in regards to Riqui Puig.
Setién won’t have a lot of time to fiddle with his preferred lineup or approach before people start asking questions, but the fans will be on his side if they see progress.