Barcelona could approach Mauricio Pochettino this summer to replace Setien.
Barcelona boss Quique Setien has come under heavy criticism for his team’s performance since the restart, with the Catalans losing their previously held lead to rivals Real Madrid, who currently stand 1 point ahead with one less match played.
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There was a lot of talk regarding Setien’s future at Camp Nou with reports suggesting that the match against Atletico Madrid and Villarreal will decide the 61-year-old’s future. While the squad was held at a draw against Atleti, the match against Villarreal showed a different Barca.
It was indeed the dominating performance against Villarreal that led everyone to believe that perhaps Setien was the right man for the job and could potentially take the current squad to Champions League glory this season, providing they played with the same system as versus Villarreal.
Things, however, are not looking bright for the Spanish coach as Barca went back to their usual lackluster performance in their latest match against Espanyol where the team struggled to break the defensive line of a relegating fellow Catalan side. It was a tiny moment of MSG magic that saw the only goal of the match as the combo between Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez gave Barca the break.
This performance has raised many eyebrows once again as continuing this way of football will only lead to disaster with the Champions League match against Napoli only a month away. The board had previously been preparing an alternative for Setien for next season but might also be willing to sack him earlier based on their League results.
Enter Mauricio Pochettino
What’s interesting about Espanyol’s relegation is that it opens the doors for the Argentine coach, Mauricio Pochettino, who was previously linked with the club when former manager, Luis Enrique, left the side. Unfortunately for Barca, Pochettino started his managerial career with Espanyol. Espanyol de Barcelona are also the club that gave him entry to European football when they signed him from Lionel Messi‘s youth club, Newell’s Old Boys, back in 1994. Because of this, the coach stated that it is impossible for him to play against them and will never become a Barca coach.
“But I am an Espanyol supporter. In football I know it is so difficult to keep your values and to be loyal – with your heart and emotion. But for me before being a manager, before being a player, being loyal is more important. I am an Espanyol fan. I love Espanyol. It will be impossible” He said.
Source The Guardian
It was his connection with Argentina and Messi’s youth side that prompted Barca to target Pochettino as a coach with the manager himself admitting that he desires the chance to coach the six-time Ballon d’Or winner, Messi.
“I want to return to Newell’s [Old Boys] with Messi.” Mauricio told Argentina’s Radio de Plata
The former Tottenham manager was also recently linked to replace Ernesto Valverde with Catalan journalist of Diario Sport, Guillem Balague tweeting that
“Eric Abidal was very impressed with Pochettino and was backed/admired by not only Ramon Planes (Eric’s right hand man) and president [Josep Bartomeu], as he knows Poch well, but other top directors too,” Source Forbes
Pochettino, however, needed time to decide because of his love for Espanyol and Barca did not have the time.
“FCB wanted to take the decision within a week and Pochettino needed more time to think about it. It is a hard decision to take, being [an] Espanyol fan and needing to know the project in detail. He wanted to talk to his people. It was all too rushed,”
Setien eventually was announced as the new coach which had left Pochettino jobless to date. But with Espanyol relegated, he will no longer have the obligation to play against Espanyol meaning the lure of coaching Messi and a great club like Barca could be enough for the Argentine manager to join Camp Nou next season.
While it remains unknown whether Setien will end the season or leave before the Champions League, Mauricio remains a great option to take Barca back to their glory days, just before the start of a new regime after the 2021 Presidential elections.
Should Barca approach Mauricio Pochettino or give Quique Seiten more time?