FC Barcelona has once again snatched a coach not from the superstar ranks but one they deem fit for their philosophy. Quique Setién does not have the CV that most managers would have had when they joined a club as large as this. He is chosen more for his ability to make teams play good football than to win trophies.
Who is Setién?
His real name is Enrique Setién, he is 61 years old and from Santander, Spain. He started his career as a midfielder for the local Racing Santander club, where he became a regular player from 1977 to 1985. He ended his game days moving from Atlético Madrid, to Logroñés, back to Racing, and then ended the his career at the Levante in 1996 He made three appearances also for the Spanish national team.
As a manager, he started his racing career somewhat by accident. He was their sporting director when they were in Segunda, taking over as manager after the coach was fired for bad results. He helped the team return to the top flight, but it has faded in the background. He then took over the Polideportivo Ejido, once again in Segunda. He was eventually fired after only having two wins in 15 games. So he was an assistant coach of Russia’s national beach soccer team, and eventually became the manager of Equatorial Guinea, but only for one game.
Another club he played for, Logroñés, had a chance on him and managed them in the third division for a few months, but was eventually fired for a string of poor results. His next adventure was at CD Lugo, a team he has managed in the third division since June 2009. He helped the team achieve promotion in 2012 and continued to manage Lugo in the second division. He remained in charge for six seasons, with Setién leaving Lugo in Segunda again when he left in 2014. His first chance to succeed in the top flight came for UD Las Palmas, after they fired Paco Herrera. He hired a team that was in the relegation zone, but they improved under Setién.
He helped Las Palmas survive relegation in his first season, finishing in a surprisingly strong 11th place that year. His management has drawn praise for getting the most out of the humble club and playing fun football. The following season, he picked up where he left off and Las Palmas started the year very strongly, even occupying some of the highest positions at the beginning of the term.
However, the end was not nearly as strong, with Las Palmas collecting only four points in the last ten games. Despite that unfavorable ending, Las Palmas finished a respectable 14th place and remained in La Liga, often playing attractive football.
Setién was honored for his job with Las Palmas by getting the job with Real Betis the following season. Betis was a team looking for a man to lead their next project, which they hoped could take them from a relatively small club to one of the strongest in Spain. They had finished 15th without him, and in his first year at Betis, they finished 6th.
He was now being talked about as one of the best La Liga coaches, and fans were excited to see how the project would go forward. Things looked good, with Betis playing an exciting football brand. Setién’s men defeated Valverde’s Barcelona 4-3 in November 2018, which would have been Valverde’s only loss for his entire stay. And Setién was connected with the work of Barcelona in early 2019, for his ability to play football and interesting results.
However, the end of the season was not that strong. Betis hasn’t won more than one game in a row for the entire second half of the season, until the last two games. Fans turned Setién on and was eventually let go. Betis ended the tenth year in La Liga. I’m currently 13th under Rubi, so it’s a good question if Betis did the right thing by letting Setién go.
The manager has been without clubs since then until Barcelona picked him up the other day.
Setién has only four seasons of managerial experience at the highest levels, in stark contrast to Valverde, who despite being younger, has had 15 years of experience as top manager. In addition, Valverde had won the Spanish Super Cup with Athletic Bilbao, as well as numerous trophies in the Greek league. Setién does not have silverware as a manager, although he has collected a Super Cup as a player.
Setién is known for his spells in Las Palmas and Betis, where he took unequal teams and made them stronger and able to play distinctly. Will he reach great heights now that he has been assigned the strongest team he has ever had?