While the Barcelona faithful are collectively enjoying the state of the team currently, not that long ago, things were rather grim.
The lowest point undoubtedly came during the short (and painful) managerial spell of Quique Setien.
A number of issues pervaded throughout his time in charge, but perhaps the biggest one was a rocky relationship with Lionel Messi.
And it turns out, things got so complicated that now Setien won’t even talk about the player.
In a recent interview, the former Betis manager opened up on his spell saying, ‘I do not regret taking the Barcelona job at all. If you don’t like the situation, just pack up your bags and leave. However, some things bothered me.’
When asked if, by ‘things’ he meant Lionel Messi, Setien remained tight-lipped and said, ‘I’d rather not talk about him’.
The snub surprised many, especially since Setien’s style of play relied heavily on Messi as the primary creative output.
So why the Mourinho-esque response?
The seeds for this apparent squabble had been planted long before the Spaniard even stepped foot in Catalunya.
Tensions at Barca had been palpable following Ernesto Valverde’s sacking, the players were especially annoyed as they had reservations with the manner of the dismissal.
At the same time, some shady antics went on behind the scenes, including ‘Barto-Gate’ in which former president, Josep Bartomeu, reportedly paid media outlets to slander veteran players and even their families.
The disgruntled players were irked further by these developments, resulting in a heavy loss of morale. And then, in came Quique Setien with the most humble of credentials, by Barcelona standards at least.
Handed the herculean task of managing an unhappy dressing room while delivering wins with a poorly-built squad, Setien crumbled under the pressure.
Things failed to click from the start, with reports of miscommunication and some truly miserable football.
The writing was on the wall, all roads led up to a rude awakening, which came on an ill-fated night in Portugal.
Bayern Munich smashed 8 goals past the mighty Barcelona, a night of extreme humiliation for the club.
Setien was promptly sacked, and soon enough, even Bartomeu’s administration came crashing down.
Of course, all the turmoil affected the side’s marquee player, Messi, who was also dealing with uncertainties around his future.
Far from a happy camper, the PSG man was certainly not at his most accommodating, and Setien’s ideas failed to connect with the Argentine almost immediately.
It also didn’t help that ‘Setien ball’ relied heavily on him, and at times, it was Messi knocking on opposition doors without any assistance.
Add to that the toxic environment that prevailed around Camp Nou and agitation caused by Bartormeu’s actions, and what’s left is an exhausted player.
Perhaps Setien’s spell was doomed to fail from the start, and perhaps Messi’s lack of corporation derailed, there are variables we’ll likely never get to the bottom of.
For now, Culers can find solace in the club’s current state, as it looks destined to be back on top.