Barcelona president Josip Maria Bartomeu has backed new head coach Quique Setien to be a success for the club, despite a controversial beginning to his reign in charge of the Camp Nou side.
The former Real Betis boss was appointed over the winter break following the sacking of Ernesto Valverde, but over the course of the last week a storm has been whipped up around the club as Lionel Messi had a public spat with sporting director Eric Abidal on social media after the latter suggested that certain players had not tried sufficiently under the previous boss.
The mood was not helped as Barca crashed out of the Copa del Rey with a defeat against Athletic Bilbao, but despite the 1-0 reverse on Thursday away from home, Bartomeu was more than satisfied with the fare on offer.
"We had clear chances and played well," Bartomeu told Barca TV. "We created a lot and I want to congratulate the players for how they played. They showed ambition and motivation.
"Athletic had one shot on goal at the end and won the game. We deserved to go through, but it wasn't possible. I reiterate that I liked the ambition shown by the team on the pitch, because it's a tough place to come and the home fans are on top of you.
"Now we have La Liga and the Champions League to focus on. Playing like that, I am sure success will follow."
His view echoed the feelings of the coach, who said that he is content with the way the squad is developing, despite their latest setback.
“Taking into account what has happened to us in other games from home, we have taken a step forward in terms of what we have to improve,” Setien told reporters.
“It is the same as ever; there are days when you have one chance and put it in, and there are days where you have ten and can’t do it. There isn’t a reasonable explanation.
“I have never known what to blame it on. Their goal came from a play that wasn’t dangerous. There are things that can’t be controlled and this is one of them.
“Everything went well, except for the result. I am happy with the team’s work.”
Barca will be back in La Liga action on Sunday when they take on Real Betis at Estadio Benito Villamarin.