Ernesto Valverde's departure was not the ideal start to 2020, but it all kicked off after the Spanish Supercopa semifinal defeat to Atletico Madrid.
The club had already seen symptoms of tiredness in the coach's project and the objective was to reach an agreement for Xavi Hernandez to replace him in the summer. Keep Valverde for now and begin to prepare for next season. The Supercopa elimination led to an unexpected turn, though, and from there began four days of madness.
President Josep Maria Bartomeu decided what was best was to look for a new coach and focused on Xavi. Sporting director Eric Abidal and CEO Oscar Grau went to Qatar to negotiate with the club's former captain. It's evident that things did not go as hopes in Doha. The leaking of the meetings put pressure on everyone and Xavi, who seriously considered the option, decided to reject the job for now but remained open to taking over in June.
Abidal and Grau returned from Qatar without a coach, although the decision to sack Valverde had now been made.
In fact, everything was ratified during a meeting on Sunday night. At that point, they were only looking at two options to replace Valverde and decided to start negotiations. There were many other coaches offering themselves and, perhaps, other members of the board working on their own to throw other names into the mix, but there were only ever two people serious on the table: Garcia Pimienta (the Barça B coach) and Quique Setien.
Mauricio Pochettino's name was put forward but one director, but the Argentine coach wasn't sure he'd take the role -- his previous comments about not coaching Barça work against him, while he's still being paid by ex-club Tottenham -- nor did Barcelona believe his appointment would be well received. "I'd sooner work back on my farm than coach Barça," the former Espanyol coach once said.
It's also true that former Juventus coach Allegri was sounded out, but the Italian was only interested in taking on a long-term project.
With Xavi on the horizon, the club wanted a coach more willing to accept a short deal and the chosen one was Setien, due to his career so far but above all because of the way his sides play the game. He was first contacted on Saturday night and, finally, appointed on Monday.