FC Barcelona has finally sacked their manager Ronald Koeman last night. The decision was made after their 1-0 defeat in La Liga against Rayo Vallecano.
“FC Barcelona has relieved Ronald Koeman of his duties as first-team coach. The president of the club, Joan Laporta, informed him of the decision after the defeat against Rayo Vallecano. Ronald Koeman will say goodbye to the squad on Thursday at the Ciutat Esportiva,” read the official statement by the club on their website.
The club has since then appointed Sergi Barjuan as a caretaker manager. Barcelona has already started its extensive search for the Koeman replacement. But why did Blaugrana sack one of the legends of their club, just 14 months after appointing him?
KOEMAN A BARCELONA LEGEND, BUT AN AVERAGE MANAGER
Ronald Koeman is one of the best defenders to play for Barcelona and is a legend at the club. This did play a part in his appointment as the manager of the club when Barca was going through a tough period.
Barcelona appointed Koeman as their manager in August of 2020 after the disappointing spell under Quique Setien. However, there was a lot of resistance to this new appointment from some sections of fans. Yet, Barcelona was confident in Koeman to turn their luck around.
Koeman on the other hand was not the right candidate for such a high-pressure job. Though he had managerial experience, the results were averaged. He did manage to win the Dutch Eredivise three times, once with PSV Eindhoven and twice with Ajax, but this was 15 years ago.
He did have a shot spell with La Liga team Valencia, where he won the Copa del Rey. Yet his later stints at Netherland and in England with Southampton and Everton were not exciting. Koeman did, however, revitalised an ailing Netherland national team, which was a major factor for his appointment as the manager of Barcelona. Ultimately he was not able to inspire the Barcelona side back into the glory.
BREAKING BAD RECORDS
Koeman’s record in Barcelona was not good. In his 67 games in charge of the club, he won 40, drew 11 and lost 16. His win percentage in all competition was just 58%, the lowest for any Barcelona manager who has managed more than 5 games since Radomir Antic.
His El Clasico loss on the weekend also gave him the record of the second Barcelona manager to lose their first three matches against Real Madrid. The only silverware Koeman won with Barcelona is the 2020/21 Copa del Rey title.
On the European stage, Koeman broke many unwanted records for Barcelona. His side 5 match winless streak in the Champions League was the longest ever in the clubs’ history. No other Barcelona side have lost their first two group stage matches in UCL. This record was broken this time with the opening defeats to Bayern Munich and Benfica.
For a club like Barcelona, the main priority is to challenge for the titles especially La Liga and Champions League regularly. But under Koeman, the club started breaking unwanted records and their performance and results are very poor.
THE FINANCIAL MESS AT BARCELONA
The appointment of Koeman was always not welcomed by the majority of the fans. This was mainly due to their opposition to former President of the club Josep Bartomeu. Bartomeu was the person who appointed Koeman, just before leaving the post as President after many allegations.
This general hatred towards Bartomeu with the unconvincing record of Koeman already made fans sceptical. This further became worse due to the financial issues of the club. The major aftermath of this was club legend Lionel Messi moving to PSG this summer for free.
Barcelona in the last few years have been struggling without Messi. It was usually the Argentine who brings out a magical performance to help his side get all the points. But when Messi finally left, his enormous output could not be replaced.
Along with Messi, the financial situation of the club also made it hard for the club to bring in exciting new talents. The financial mismanagement also meant that the club made some very questionable decisions in the transfer market, which never worked out.
Koeman was also at fault for some of them. Letting go of Luiz Suarez to Atletico Madrid, a major rival, was one of them. The Uruguayan helped Atletico to the La Liga title last season. Koeman also had a poor relationship with many players including Riqui Puig and Miralem Pijanic.
BARCELONA AFTER KOEMAN ERA?
Finally, all these factors contributed to the end of Koeman’s time in Camp Nou. For Barcelona, this is a very crucial moment in their clubs’ history. The Catalans are struggling domestically and in Europe. Many of their rivals are strengthening while the clubs’ financial woes are forcing them to take a step back.
The next managerial appointment will hence be the most important decision for the board. They will need to bring in someone who can build a new site from scratch with the pieces that are left behind. Currently, Barcelona is looking at former club legend Xavi, who has impressed in Qatar Stars League club Al Sadd.
However, with no experience coaching in Europe, it is not sure if Xavi is the answer to the question. The cry for “Barca DNA” among supporters have forced the club to bring back former players as managers. But for the club, it is more important to stay relevant and pick someone not with emotions, but with the brain.