Master play

Still today, Josep María Bartomeu’s move deserves to be classified as a teacher: hiring a club legend to stop all the blows aimed at you until the end of the term. We are talking about a few months, the right ones to redeem oneself in sports and leave a patina of good practice as a legacy, trusting everything to patience, a certain margin for improvement and, as I said, the sentimental weight of a Dutchman of approximately one hundred kilos and good memories. Nor is it the most audacious move in the world. Others had tried it before him with excellent results, but not even Ronald Koeman’s uncorrupted aura is capable of stopping the kind of beatings that the police inflict when they knock on your door with a search warrant.

Soccer is a predator that devours moments and moods at an astonishing rate. In October, the Barça fans had lost all hope and, with Christmas just around the corner, the worst omens took hold of the popular imagination. A kind of green shoots were glimpsed with the settlement of Pedri and Araujo, the step forward of Frenkie de Jong was valued, but the team made waters in the decisive match of the first European exam against Juventus and in the League it was going to double digits of the leader despite accumulating some extra game. No one in their right mind would then bet on Koeman’s continuity until the new year brought a miracle and the team seemed to start to fuel. A good time against Granada, an honorable tie against Sevilla, an imposing arreón in the league and a more or less decent elimination against PSG placed the Dutchman’s work on the comfortable side of the scale.

Then came Laporta’s victory in the elections, a few weeks of football-fiction, including the Cup final, and the unfathomable collapse of a team that began to promise and was abandoned to apportionment. Suddenly, the Barça fan returned to the month of October, to total mistrust in the coach’s abilities and primary fears about the true worth of a squad that fights doubts with flashes, like bad gunners. At the break of the game against Granada, with Barça dominating the game and the scoreboard in search of the leadership, I myself made an effort to explain to my father how Ronald Koeman had earned the right to lead the project next season. Barely forty-five minutes later, it was my father who insisted on convincing me that everyone is wrong and that no one is born stupid or suddenly, least of all his son.

With Koeman, as so many times in football, all opinions fit and deserve to be respected because none can boast, at least at this moment, the unmistakable halo of absolute truths. The current Barça’s distance from the big European clubs cannot be wiped away in a single season and Laporta must decide whether it is worth taking advantage of the good that Koeman has or definitively breaking the deck. One thing and the other have the same chances of making the right decision, so everything will depend on the determination and audacity of the new president and his sports direction. In addition, any action will seem better to the average hobbyist than hiring I don’t know what services with a company called Coyote & Big Data.

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