Barcelona recently announced the hiring of former player Xavi as their new manager through 2024. They did so by replacing one of their own, Ronald Koeman, who, like Xavi, played for the Blaugrana for six seasons.
Since Pep Guardiola departed from Barcelona in the summer of 2012, the club has been unable to find a suitable replacement. Guardiola assembled arguably the greatest team of the twenty-first century, leading Barcelona to a sextuple in 2009. Barcelona became the first European club to do so in the process.
Barcelona has appointed nine different managers since then but has yet to find a long-term replacement. The Blaugrana may have found their man in Xavi.
On that note, here are the five worst managers in Barcelona’s history.
Number 5: Radomir Antic
Radomir Antic was appointed manager of Barcelona for a four-month stint just before the arrival of Frank Rijkaard.
Although judging Antic over four months may be unfair, he had a dismal record as Barcelona manager. The former Yugoslav international had the lowest win percentage (50%) of any Barcelona manager in at least five games this century.
Antic took over as manager of Barcelona in the middle of the 2003-04 season when the club was 15th in La Liga. Unsurprisingly, Antic did not win a trophy during his time as manager at Camp Nou. At the end of the season, he was replaced by the legendary Frank Rijkaard. Antic won 12 games, drew eight, and lost four during his 24-match tenure as Barcelona manager.
Number 4: Ronald Koeman
Ronald Koeman, fired recently, left Barcelona as the manager with the worst winning record in nearly two decades.
The Dutchman took over at Camp Nou from Quique Setien in the summer of 2020, with the club in chaos both on and off the field. Koeman had the unenviable task of reviving Barcelona amid a financial crisis, and he also had to deal with a disgruntled Lionel Messi. The Argentine had requested a transfer ahead of the 2020-21 season.
Koeman did a good job of steadying the ship, but Messi’s departure in the summer of 2021 exposed Barcelona’s financial shambles. Following their star’s departure, the Dutchman was unable to keep his squad united and happy, and he was eventually fired.
During his 14-month stay, Koeman became only the second manager in Barcelona history to lose his first three Clasicos. The Dutchman had the lowest win percentage (58%) since Radomir Antic in the 2002-03 season.
Koeman left Barcelona with a 67-match record of 39 wins, 12 draws, and 16 defeats.
Number 3: Gerardo Martino
Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino was named Barcelona manager ahead of the 2013-14 season.
During his time in the Argentine domestic league, the former Newell’s Old Boys manager earned a reputation as one of the game’s most talented managers. Martino was so impressive that Barcelona decided not to promote a youth system manager to give the Argentine a chance to shine on the biggest stage.
Despite a promising start to his managerial career at Camp Nou, things did not go as planned for Barcelona and Martino. Barcelona was in first place in La Liga at the start of the 2013-14 season, and they were in contention for a continental treble.
However, things began to fall apart quickly in the second half of the season. Barcelona blew a two-goal lead, handing Atletico Madrid their first league title in nearly two decades. The Blaugrana also exited the Champions League quarter-finals that season, losing 2-1 on aggregate to Atletico Madrid.
Martino stated in an interview after his year as manager of Barcelona:
“My time at Barça was a complete failure. Normally, failure means losing. That is not my point of view. It would not have been a failure if Barça had played their own style but did not win the title. But we didn’t win and didn’t play well.”
Number 2: Kubala
Laszlo Kubala was one of the greatest players to wear the Barcelona jersey in the twentieth century, winning 13 major trophies.
Barcelona commemorated Kubala’s extraordinary playing career by erecting a towering bronze statue of him directly outside Camp Nou. The Hungarian-born former Spanish international scored 146 goals in 212 official appearances for Barcelona. During his 11-year stay at Barcelona, Kubala also won four league titles and five domestic cups.
His success as a player, however, did not translate to his managerial career, as he underperformed in two different spells. He went trophyless during his first spell at Barcelona, which lasted nearly two years. His second spell, on the other hand, was even worse.
Kubala also failed to win a trophy during his second stint as manager of Barcelona, which lasted only six months. Kubala was only in charge for 13 games during his second stint at the club, winning seven and losing six.
Number 1: Quique Setien
Many consider Quique Setien to be the worst Barcelona manager in recent years, despite only being in charge for seven months.
The Spaniard took over an underperforming squad from Ernesto Valverde and was widely expected to be the man to turn around Barcelona’s fortunes. Setien was a follower of the Cruyffian school of thought, and his attacking style of play was deemed ideal for Camp Nou.
Setien was a relatively unknown entity when he was appointed as Barcelona’s manager, but he was enormously impressive during his time at Real Betis.
During his seven-month stay at Camp Nou, however, he was unable to replicate that success. Setien’s tenure as manager at Barcelona was trophy-less, with 16 wins, four draws, and five losses in 25 games. His final game as manager summed up his tenure in Catalonia perfectly.
Barcelona was humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. Only three days later, Quique Setien was fired, and Ronald Koeman took his place.: