Jordi BlancoCorrespondent in BarcelonaReading: 5 min.
BARCELONA – Ronald Koeman it’s one year old this Thursday as coach of the Barcelona, after traveling to the city on August 18 and immediately completing his signing for the club with the then president Josep Maria Bartomeu four days after (https://espndeportes.espn.com/futbol/reporte?juegoId=573704) the Barça team suffered in Lisbon the worst European defeat in its history and sentenced the dismissal of Quique Setién … which was not officially effective until months later.
The Dutchman celebrates one year as Barça coach with 55 official matches behind him: 35 wins, 9 draws and 11 defeats that place him away from technicians with better numbers and in which his team has scored 126 goals (39 of them scored by Messi) and conceded 60.
Of the Barça of Lionel messi, who was won against all odds in August 2020, Barça post Messi, who will have to lead in a challenge so unthinkable two weeks ago as indisputable since the course began, it seems impossible that the coach Koeman reaches the consideration he had in the club the Koeman player … But the security that he exudes, his proximity to the players and his undeniable commitment to youth have given him an exceptional role at the club.
His arrival in August 2020, the forms, immediacy, duration, clauses and payment to the federation of his country to terminate the contract that united him as a coach (more than 5 million dollars) made clear the mess that is taking place at all levels. He lived at the Camp Nou, where the president who would end up resigning after two months used the figure of a legendary character in the imaginary culer as the last lifeline. And giving him, without dissimulation, an unofficial spokesperson role to which the technician had to get used to from day one.
If around Barça a heavy hand was demanded with a collapsed squad, Koeman did not beat around the bush by shaking the dressing room in a beastly way: He communicated by phone to Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Arturo vidal that did not fit into his plans (actually they were the club’s plans) and, suddenly, he had to deal with the Messi issue, who rebelled against Bartomeu and wanted to leave the club.
After a year, the coach’s momentary legacy is drawn between clouds and clearings. In his first year, he ended the title drought by winning the Copa del Rey, he was beaten in the knockout stages of the Champions League by PSG and after a superb reaction in the League, he lost the title race at a bleak end of the campaign. that put in doubt a continuity that, after many doubts, Joan Laporta confirmed.
The firmness of his speech, his self-assurance, his character as a club man, openly proclaiming the need to adjust salaries, and his commitment to young people (Mingueza, Ansu Fati until your injury, Ronald Araújo and Ilaix Moriba) outweighed the doubts of the systems that he used on the field of play and that earned him not a few criticisms.
Koeman finally gained his continuity after a meal with the president in a restaurant in Barcelona and began to plan his second season, sure to reinforce the squad with the arrival of the desired ones. Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia, to which the club added to Sergio Aguero in an undisguised nod to Leo Messi … At last the central name of the summer.
SURVIVAL … AND ILLUSION
The coach, who for the last two months hoped to have the crack, suddenly woke up with the Argentine on the way to Paris and the need to tweak all his plans, adding to this the loss of Ilaix Moriba, forced by the club not wanting to renew the youth contract.
And so the second season began, with the monumental mission of leading the post-Messi era and a premiere in which illusion gained ground to simple survival. A solvent victory against the Real society showing a team grown in its collective and given over to the postulates of a Koeman that redoubles its commitment to youth while pointing out the discarded without dissimulation, inviting them to march urgently, and loudly praising the gesture of Gerard piqué as a warning to his companions.