Impact-Site-Verification: 1513487169
≡ Menu

La Liga Review: Villarreal Fire Manager Quique Setien

Quique Setien

In a surprising early-season development, Villarreal confirmed on Tuesday that the helm has changed hands: Quique Setien, the manager who stepped in during October 2022 post Unai Emery’s Premier League leap, is out. His exit followed a stuttering start, marked by a solitary victory and three losses in their inaugural four LaLiga fixtures.

The final blow? A 3-1 away setback against Cadiz last Friday, plunging the Yellow Submarine to the 15th spot before players jetted off for the international break.

It wasn’t all tumultuous; the Setien reign had moments to savor. Villarreal soared to fifth place in LaLiga last term, though they faced exits in the Copa del Rey and UEFA Conference League’s Round of 16, facing off against titans like Real Madrid and Anderlecht, respectively.

“Setien’s unyielding commitment and utmost professionalism, particularly during the testing waters of last season, warrants commendation,” Villarreal expressed in their official statement. They added, “His contributions in fostering budding talent from our youth brigade, steering us to a credible fifth-place finish, and the subsequent Europa League qualification stand testament to his abilities. We extend our best wishes for his future endeavors.”

Yet, beneath the official lines lies a deeper tale, one simmering since last season. Reliable insider sources, including Relevo, have been abuzz with tales of Setien’s frayed ties with the club’s old guards – stalwarts like Pepe Reina, Raul Albiol, and Dani Parejo. Allegedly, the locker room grew disgruntled with Setien’s perceived indifference to losses. An innocuous phrase,

‘You don’t have to run so much,’ reportedly left a few veterans miffed.

Club President Fernando Roig had previously toyed with the idea of ousting Setien. But a combination of the team’s stellar season-end performance and Setien’s willingness to operate within the club’s tight financial ropes (sales over €100m vs spending merely €12m) kept him safe.

However, the winds changed this season. Indications of the unraveling were evident – stalwarts being sidelined and tactics raising eyebrows.

Villarreal now face an uphill challenge: steadying a rocking ship and scouting for the ideal replacement. Miguel Angel Tena, the club’s Director of Football, is shouldering interim managerial duties. The rumor mills are already spinning, with big names like Julen Lopetegui, formerly associated with the likes of Sevilla and Real Madrid, in the mix. Lopetegui’s surprising exit from Wolves just days before the Premier League kickoff makes him a tantalizing contender.

Other contenders in the fray? Javi Gracia, with commendable stints at Watford and Valencia, and Marcelo Gallardo, the River Plate maestro who’s eager for a fresh challenge post his Argentine escapades.

With a crucial clash against Almeria and a Europa League opener versus Panathinaikos looming, Villarreal’s leadership has its work cut out. Stay tuned to ESPN FC for exclusive coverage as the drama unfolds.