Barcelona coach plays down team rumblings
Setien admits he has never had a bigger job but denies he is out of his depth
Barcelona — Barcelona coach Quique Setien says he does not always see eye to eye with his squad as their La Liga title bid threatens to unravel after Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo.
Second-placed Barca trail Real Madrid by two points with six games to go and face a gruelling match at home to third-placed Atletico Madrid on Tuesday which they need to win to stay in close contention in the title race.
“It’s true that you often have arguments with players as you do in everyday life and that’s nothing new,” Setien told a virtual news conference on Monday.
“I was not an easy player to deal with and I understand this perfectly well. What we have to do is try to convince everyone that we have to defend a common idea,” said the former Atletico Madrid, Logrones and Racing Santander midfielder.
Footage of the Celta match showed Lionel Messi ignoring instructions from assistant Eder Sarabia during the water break. Striker Luis Suarez, meanwhile, appeared to criticise Setien in a post-match interview, saying it was the coaching staff’s job to analyse why the team keeps dropping points away from home.
Setien, however, tried to play down suggestions there was a rift between him and his players.
“These are random incidents and I don’t give them too much importance. When you don’t win games everyone tries to stir the pot but this is the circus we’re in,” he said.
“We’re more concerned about the general atmosphere of the team and overall the relationship with the squad is good. It’s true that we don’t agree about certain things but I don’t think there’s any problem worth mentioning.”
The 61-year-old Setien, whose biggest job before Barca was with Real Betis, said he was not used to dealing with a dressing room of Barca’s calibre and personalities but added that it was vital everyone worked in the team’s best interests.
“I have no problem in admitting that this level is new to me, and that I’m in a learning process. We all have to step back a bit for the good of the team, including the players. You can’t do everything you want.
“This is a team and has to act like one. Sometimes you have to sacrifice personal things for the good of the team, that’s what’s going to give us victory.”
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