The Barcelona board have handled the sacking of Ernesto Valverde and the appointment of Quique Setien horribly, according to Graham Hunter.
The Spanish-based football journalist was speaking to Tuesday’s OTB AM and was in disbelief about how the Catalan club had managed the situation.
“Unless [Josep Maria] Bartomeu [Floreta] and his board weren’t at Anfield or have got early onset [dementia] - the ‘Plan B’ should have been simmering since at least then.
“A ‘Plan B’ implies that you’ve got candidates, that you have a strategy, how you will handle the succession to Valverde. Yet they thrash around going to Xavi, going to his workplace - rather than say sorting it on the phone, which could’ve been done.
“It could’ve been low profile and would have saved the club and the board the humiliation of Xavi saying, ‘No. Not now. You idiots.’” Hunter said.
However, after being rejected by Xavi, Barcelona reportedly approached two other managers before Setien, who had both previously said they would not join the club at this time.
“Let’s approach a guy who’s equally committed to say, Holland and the idea that Holland might win the Euros this summer. [Ronald] Koeman’s already pointed out that he wouldn’t come during the build-up to the Euros.
“So they ask him, ‘Ronald, would you like to be second choice?’ No. Okay, third choice [Mauricio] Pochettino - who’s said he’d rather go back and work on his farm than coach Barcelona and is absolutely 100% assured in his own mind that he’s the next Manchester United coach.
“But because Ramon Planes, one of the Barca executives, has a very friendly relationship with Pochettino, they sound him out and it immediately comes out. Now here’s Quique Setien,” Hunter commented.
This has left former Spain international Setien in a difficult position, according to Hunter, as he now has to convince players of his ability despite them knowing he was the club’s fourth choice.
“If you sack Valverde, irrespective of the fact that they’ve done it in a brutal, ham-fisted, ugly, embarrassing way. Which they didn’t need to do, for their own benefit as well as his.
“Quique Setien takes charge this morning in a double session, which the players have not had to endure in midseason since Guardiola’s been in charge.
“Quique Setien has got to come in and convince these hard-nosed, battle-scarred, world-class multi-millionaires with them knowing he’s fourth-choice. Brilliant work I must say, Bartomeu and the board. Super,” Hunter said.
Despite their poor run of form, Barcelona are first in La Liga and are through to the last-16 of the Champions League, giving Setien a decent chance of making it a successful season for the Catalan giants.