It has been an exhausting week for Villarreal fans, and it’s only Wednesday AM in Spain. Following all the emotion of our dramatic 2-1 victory on Sunday, and Unai Emery’s departure on Monday, now on Tuesday we have a new coach—Enrique “Quique” Setien.
For Villarreal to change coaches in a season is not unprecedented, of course, but generally it’s been the club’s choice. This time it wasn’t; Sr. Roig was full of praise for Emery in the press conference today but admitted the timing left a lot to be desired (even though Villarreal got €6 million to ameliorate that a bit).
Names that first came up were Marcelino, who had been seen chatting to the Roigs at Sr. Llaneza’s funeral the week before; Mauricio Pochettino, and Marcelo Gallardo. Pochettino was offered the job, but turned it down; no idea how much contact there was with the others, but Marcelino seems to be waiting for the Spanish national team to hire him, while Gallardo, who announced he would be leaving River Plate in December, seems to want to take some time off to recharge his batteries.
Enter Quique Setien. The Cantabrian was last seen on the touchline with Barcelona, where he was unceremoniously booted out after Bayern’s 8-2 demolition in the Champions League in August 2020. Before that he had garnered a lot of positive press at Real Betis, where he led them to a Europa League qualification, and before that Las Palmas, where he produced a mid-table finish from what was a pretty mediocre group of players.
Setien was very upset by the firing—not only did he take legal action against Barcelona for breaking his contract (I like him already!) but he took a significant break from football, eventually finding some joy in working with a youth club in his native Santander. He seemed to be waiting for an interesting project, and replacing Emery at Villarreal fit the bill.
It’s also interesting that he has named his #2, Ramiro Amarelle. If you haven’t heard of him, he was a beach football star with Barcelona (twice voted the most valuable player of the beach football World Cup), though before that he played as a youth on grass with Depor’s cantera. An interesting choice, to be sure. Quique also arrives with Fran Soto, a physical trainer he knows well. If Soto can get Gerard Moreno fit and able to play most of the remainder of the season, he might be a huge appointment!!!
Is Setien a step down from Emery in terms of trophies won and international cachet? No question. But his commitment to young players and his style of football might fit well with Villarreal. We’re going to find out. Endavant, i benvengut, Quique Setien!