Ronald Koeman’s future as Barcelona coach is hanging by a thread with Joan Laporta and the rest of the club’s board considering just what to do.
The latest embarrassment came in the form of a 3-0 defeat to Benfica in the Champions League and with Koeman’s competence already in question by some within the club, that was perhaps the worst result the Dutchman could have had.
Koeman has been criticised and judged for many different reasons, but the crucial seven which have led him to this precipice are impossible to ignore:
- Attacks on players
The coach had no qualms about stating publicly that his squad was weakened during the summer, highlighting the fact that some of the younger players were more committed than the veterans.
He was critical after games, reproaching his players for missed chances and lapses in concentration and he did it again in Lisbon on Wednesday evening.
“We also have to demand more from the players, in the first goal we can’t let the opposing player enter so easily, the Barcelona of today is not the one of eight years ago.”
These comments haven’t endeared him to the players of late.
- Changing system and going against Barcelona’s natural style
The 4-3-3 hasn’t been untouchable to Koeman who has often opted for the 4-2-3-1 system or even one which utilizes five players in defence.
The combination play of previous years has disappeared in some matches, most notably the draw with Granada where Los Cules put in 54 crosses.
Once again, the Dutchman blamed his players, “There weren’t the players for tiki-taka.”
- A lack of harmony with Joan Laporta
Right from the beginning, it has been clear that the president and coach have a difficult relationship. In his electoral campaign, Laporta hinted at doubts over the Dutchman’s suitability to his position and this came to a head in the summer when the president told Koeman he was looking at alternate coaching options.
The inconsistent start to the season hasn’t been helped by the constant leaks and interference from Laporta.
- Koeman’s defeatism
The coach assures fans that he is realistic with the ambitions his team has, but his prudence when setting these objectives has been received very poorly by the board and the players.
“In the Champions League you can’t expect miracles; to retain a high league position would be a success.”
- Being a club man
Koeman accepted all the restrictions and limitations of the club due to the disastrous economic situation. He understood that he had to sell players and any signings were to be made on free transfers.
He meekly accepted the departures of Messi, Griezmann, Emerson Royal even though those decisions had left him with an infinitely weaker team.
- He didn’t bow to interference
Despite pressure from some, including Laporta, on how he should coach the team, Koeman has remained firm. He has considered that there are players more deserving of minutes than Samuel Umtiti and Riqui Puig, despite the encouragement from above to play them.
- He has made unsuccessful gambles
The signing of Luuk de Jong was a personal gamble on Koeman’s behalf and the Dutch forward isn’t performing at anywhere near the standard expected of him.