Due to the clubs current situation many fans are frustrated, and understandably so. However many view Setien as one of the issues.
In this short fanpost I will try to show you why altough Barca has many problems, Setien is not one of them.
Before I begin I will like to point out that I’m not a fanboy of Setien. I was always neutral towards him. The only reason I make this post is that I feel many of the criticism towards the coach, particularly the ones that already label him as failure or equally bad as Valverde, are unfair.
There are two main reasons why I think labeling him as a bad coach or a failure is unjustified.
1. No time for preparation.
Many forget that Setien did not had any preseason to instill his ideas on the team. It’s easy for an outsider to think that real life coaching works as simply as it does on the computer game Football Manager: you take over a team, set the lineup and tactics, and you are good to go. But reality is nothing like that.
There is a consensus amongst experts that a preseason, or preparation time for a newly appointed coach is crucial for short-term success.
As Julian Barling writes in his book The Science of Leadership: Lessons from Research for Organizational Leaders:
Coaches can depart during a season or between seasons, and research has addressed this distinction for decades, with consistent findings. Across several different sports (basketball, ice hokey, and soccer), and at both the amateur and professional levels, changes that occur during the season tend to be disruptive and are usually accompanied by demonstrable short-term decreases in overall performance upon the arrival of the new coach…
…In contrast, changes in the coach or manager that occur between seasons do not exert negative effects, likely because between-season changes allow for organizational planning, building functional relationships, and team development. In addition, coach or manager changes between season often give the new incumbent sufficient time for preparation and for developing new relationships.
In other words, Setien was basically handicaped right from the start, compared to other coaches who took over their teams between seasons.
Apart from that, he had to take over a demoralized team with lots of squad issues, like aging key players and lack of much needed player profiles (for example wingers). This whole situation was further worsened by all the accusations that surrounded our board. If this whole thing wasn’t enough the corona pandemic also further hindered his work with the players.
To say that Setien had to work under difficult circumstances is an understatement.
2. We have actually improved
Yet despite all these difficulties we actually became better under Setien when comparing the teams performance against Valverde’s from the 2019/2020 season, so far.
Infogol.com did a comparison between the two coaches and this is what they found: the expected goal for per game (xGF/game) has increased under Setien from 1.76 to 2.36, while at the same time the expected goal against per game (xGA/game) has decreased from 1.19 to 0.98.
In other words we are more likely to score while less likely to concede a goal under Setien. The expected position, that shows which league position a team should take with these stats under Setien was 1, while under Valverde it was 5. This means that under EV we should have been on 5th position, while under Setien in top position.
Surely, Setien is not perfect. He might have made some mistakes.
But the point here is that saying already that he is a “bad” coach or “just a Valverde clone” given the circumstances in which he took over and despite the fact that he did improve the team is unfair.
He deserves more time.