New Barcelona manager Quique Setien said that taking over as the club’s new coach was beyond his ‘wildest dreams’ when he was presented at the Nou Camp on Tuesday.
The 61-year-old said: ‘Not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined being here. Yesterday I was walking past the cows in my village, now I’m here training the best players in the world.’
Asked about coaching Lionel Messi, who he has publicly praised many times before, the former Betis and Las Palmas coach added: ‘I have enjoyed the last 12 years sat in front of the television watching him and these players who have made football so enjoyable to watch and it has been every day, every match.
Quique Setien was presented to the media for the first time as Barcelona’s new manager
Setien spoke alongside president Josep Bartomeu (left) and sports director Eric Abidal (right)
Setien revealed he had been walking in his hometown surrounded by cows just 24 hours ago
‘And to now become the coach of the best player in the world I am still not completely conscious of what this means.
‘But we have spoken and one thing is the admiration and another is that now I have a series of players who have to be in their right place. I’m sure it’s going to be a good relationship with all the players.’
Setien also spoke about his predecessor Ernesto Valverde. ‘I have always had a good relationship with Valverde and I will try to put myself in contact with him,’ he said.
‘There are so many things from that we will use and then put our own stamp on. He is leaving me a team that is top of the table. [When I was out of work] I thought I would take over a team in trouble, it’s not normal that you take over a team at the top of the table.’
The former Real Betis coach is determined to ‘try and win everything’ for the rest of this season
Setien admitted that while out of work, he expected to be taking over a team in a bad position
Barcelona Sporting Director Eric Abidal also referred to Valverde but with thinly veiled criticism of the way he had failed to beat Liverpool last season and how he lost the Copa del Rey final against Valencia.
Abidal said: ‘I remember from my playing days that to win the Cup or the Champions League the details are important and he [Setien] is always on top of the details.’
Setien, 61, took training on Tuesday morning before signing a contract until June 2022.
‘I’m excited about this challenge and this project,’ he added. ‘That is the biggest thing I have to transmit to the players. I have to show the players that and normally it’s not very complicated for me to transmit that.’
Valverde was dismissed despite Barcelona being top of LaLiga and in the last-16 of the Champions League.
Barcelona are still competing on three fronts and given the upheaval of changing manager mid season, the former Real Betis boss is determined to ‘try and win everything’.
The three men discussed predecessor Ernesto Valverde and why the change was made now
‘My objective is to win everything! Everything you can win,’ he said.
‘This club has no other path to follow. Year after year, to win as many trophies as possible. I think the best way to victory is by playing good football. It doesn’t always happen but it’s not just about one day, it’s about keeping it going.’
Setien paid special thanks to his predecessor for leaving such a quality side for him to inherit but questions on Valverde’s dismissal were aimed at president Josep Bartomeu.
When asked why the decision was made to ditch Valverde mis-season, Bartomeu said: ‘The dynamic in the team could be improved, we are in the next round of the Champions League and the Copa del Rey is getting started and we felt it was a dynamic we could improve.
‘We spoke about this many times with Valverde, very openly with him and we have always been very close to Ernesto Valverde with a good relationship and have always spoken about what could be improved.’
Bartomeu did admit they had talked to other candidates but he refused to elaborate on those who turned the position down.
Bartomeu felt the ‘dynamic of the team’ could be improved by a change in the management
Abidal tok a thinly-veiled dig at Valverde after his failure to beat Liverpool at Anfield last year
Former midfielder Xavi Hernandez was among those reported to have rejected the chance to replace Valverde.
‘I’m not going to just talk about Xavi,’ Abidal said. ‘When it comes to making decisions, the board knows that answers are needed.
‘Every manager is different. Setien is here because we like his way of working and his style. We have full confidence in the coach and the staff.’
In Valverde’s first season with Barcelona, the club were one game away from going an entire LaLiga season unbeaten. The one man to beat them: Quique Setien with Real Betis.
Setien shared words with Lionel Messi on the pitch after that match and he will now manage the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.
‘To be able to manage the best in the world, and his team-mates – he has great team-mates – I have always spoken to him and others,’ the club’s new boss said. ‘I have always said that the admiration is one things but reality is different. Everyone needs to have their place. Messi is Messi, Busquets is Busquets.’
Setien wasted no time in passing on his expectations and principles to the squad as he took training ahead of his formal presentation to the media.
The 61-year-old is convinced he knows what Barcelona needs having analysed them closely
Players were all smiles as they emerged and Setien is unwilling to compromise his beliefs even if he is unsure ‘if my way is the best’ for this group.
‘Every time a new manager comes in, there is a stimulus for everyone inside the dressing room,’ he added.
‘You notice it immediately. This stimulus that we saw in the session today, we need to maintain that and I have never met a coach who is the same.
‘We all have our own caveats… I don’t know if my way is the best but it’s my way. I am very clear as to what Barcelona needs. I’ve seen this from outside, we’ve watched them and analysed them. There are a lot of things we are very clear about and we will try to transmit that.’
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