Villarreal have sacked Manager Quique Setien after just four matches this season, but the reality is that causes were known about long before the campaign began.
There were numerous reports that Setien did not gel with veteran figures like Pepe Reina, Dani Parejo and Raul Albiol last season, despite their fifth-place finish last campaign. According to Relevo, within the dressing room they felt that Setien normalised defeats, never reproaching his players after losses.
‘You don’t have to run so much’ was another phrase of Setien’s that rankled in training with the veteran group. They affirmed their commitment to the club and the leadership, but not for Setien, claiming all of the credit for their impressive end to the season.
President Fernando Roig had considered sacking him last season, with Girona Manager Michel Sanchez and Bournemouth boss Andoni Iraola linked with the position. However that strong end to the campaign, combined with two other key factors swung things in his favour.
Setien was open to accepting what the club gave him in the transfer market, with Villarreal selling for over €100m and spending just €12m. He was also open to jettisoning the players that were not on his side, but did not get his wish.
The second reason was his work with the young players. Setien got the best out of the likes of Nico Jackson, Samu Chukwueze and Alex Baena, allowing the Yellow Submarine to make major sales.
However this season the poor relations came to a head. Etienne Capoue was benched for much of the opening four games, Raul Albiol has become less important too, and Parejo was dropped in their loss to Cadiz. With matters coming to a head, Roig and Villarreal decided to nip things in the bud.
Setien will no doubt feel that if Roig was to maintain him in the position, it was worthless without his full backing in the face of rebellion. Meanwhile for Villarreal it leaves their season in turmoil after just one win in four, and looking for a manager, in a season where they were meant to return to the battle for the top four.