Barcelona boss Quique Setien said he is “hopeful” of guiding Barcelona in next month’s Champions League but he “does not know” if he will continue in charge by then.
Barca captain Lionel Messi’s criticism of his team, branding them “inconsistent” and “weak” while stating the need to “change a lot” following Thursday’s 2-1 home defeat to Osasuna, a result that allowed Real Madrid to clinch their 34th league crown with a game to spare, looked to be directed at Setien.
The Catalan giants could still avoid a first trophyless season since 2007-08 with success in the Champions League when the competition resumes next month.
Asked if he believes he will be coaching Barca in the Champions League round-of-16 return leg against Napoli on Aug. 8, Setien told reporters: “I hope so but I don’t know. I agree with him [Messi] with respect to a few things. “We have to be self-critical. I feel capable [of turning things around] but the self-criticism has to be carried out by everyone.
“We will have time to rest and the team will arrive fresh to face the competition with optimism. I’m sure we will be a different team. We will face this competition [Champions League] with the maximum guarantees.”
Setien, 61, is tied to Barca until June 2022, with a get-out clause in 2021 if the club does not want him to continue. He accepted responsibility for Thursday’s surprise loss.
“I am the coach and the one who is responsible [for the defeat],” he said. “But we took 10 corner kicks and had we scored one of them, we would not have lost the game.
“We have to be demanding and there are things to improve. Many things are going to be tough, including the Champions League, but we have improved on many other things.”
Real Madrid won 10 straight league games, including Thursday’s 2-1 victory over Villarreal, en route to clinching the title, while Barca dropped nine points after La Liga re-started in mid-June following the coronavirus pandemic.
“You can’t burn everything, we’ve done some good things,” Setien said. “It was just not to be and this is part of sport.”
Setien’s appointment in January following Ernesto Valverde’s sacking, had already taken fans by surprise considering the Spaniard’s biggest achievement was to guide Betis to a sixth-place finish in the 2017-18 campaign.
Barcelona president Jose Maria Bartomeu handed Setien a vote of confidence earlier this week and said he expected the coach “to continue in charge next season.”
With Setien’s relationship with his players increasingly strained and the coach losing credibility with the board of directors and fans, that could all change. Barca end La Liga at Alaves on Sunday.