When Quique Setien arrived at Camp Nou, the Barcelona faithful thought, he would usher some changes that were beyond Ernesto Valverde. The idea of Setien to be the harbinger of "Barcelona football", which he successfully instilled in Real Betis for 18 months, enthralled many.
But, in reality, in his first week of big matches, Setien failed to register a win for Barcelona. First, it was a 1-1 draw in Naples and on Sunday it was a 2-0 defeat against the arch-rivals Real Madrid.
Suddenly, all the optimism surrounding Setien seems to start to volatilize. The man from Santander and his tactics are costing Barcelona in big games. In a season where they are trying to make amends from the Valverde era, his misfiring tactics could not have come at a worse time. Especially, Barcelona's away game boogeyman is well and truly awake again.
Setien's tactics were met with a foray of criticism. Mostly, his handling of the Barca midfield. Setien deployed Arturo Vidal, who was excellent on the left side in their 5-0 hammering of Eibar, to the right. The move proved to be fatal, as it limited Lionel Messi's movement with the ball in deeper areas. As a result, Messi was forced to play solely as a "10", which against a five men Napoli defence and Real Madrid's livewire Casemiro, did not produce results.
In the above-mentioned matches, Vidal was instructed to maintain his right channel all the time. The Chilean was barred from his usual movements, which includes invading the final third and linking up with the forwards.
Setien's lineup changes and substitutions also came under scrutiny. He used Ansu Fati for five minutes in Napoli. In Madrid, he continued with Antoine Griezman, even after the Frenchman was almost invisible in the first half. Later, in the second half when Real were dominating the match, Martin Braithwaite came on and his physical presence gave Barca a chance to crawl back.
Braithwaite surely was causing some headache for the 21 minutes he was on the pitch. The new recruit came close to scoring a goal, which proved that he deserved to start the match instead of the off-colour Griezman.
While in Betis, Setien was often criticized for being stubborn and his inability to adapt and change something that was not working. During his tenure, Betis was passing the ball way too much but produced so little.
Barcelona's management also is not helping Setien's cause. A very strange winter transfer window saw the board decided against bringing in the replacements of Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique. Also, relentless pursuit of Neymar meant, they needed to keep the bank balance intact for the next season. However, Setien cannot use any of the above excuse to bail himself out.
His mark sheet says two disappointments in two of the biggest matches of his short career at Barcelona. Barcelona still have a good chance of winning La Liga and the Uefa Champions League. But, to achieve that, Quique Setien needs to muster some positive performances under his belt very quickly to settle things, especially now, when the season is at the business end and Barcelona are fighting on both fronts. Else, it could be quick curtains for the new boss.