Ronald Koeman has a few press conferences where he has to throw balls out, reluctant to talk about his future. Among other things because it does not depend on him but rather it will be the sports area and an interventionist president like Joan Laporta – “I have come to command,” he warned after winning the elections – who will make the decision. “He has made a mistake in some change or has not been able to give the team greater control in difficult moments, but that cannot erase everything he has done,” they point out in the offices of the Barcelona sports city, convinced that the next one will continue course. It happens, however, that the deathly silence of Laporta even with the alirón cupbearer and the growing buzz about the possible return of Xavi – now in the Qatari Al Saad -, put the Dutchman in the pillory, especially because other voices of the club point that Koeman is an excellent technician for transition but maybe not so great for leading a project.
The Levante draw (3-3) was a checkmate in the race for the league laurel, a duel in which the team relaxed and broke, reluctant and without faith. Koeman has been able to lay the foundations for the future by his commitment to young people in the same way that he has been unable to give a good account of a great rival during the course and, above all, to practice a close soccer of which the hobby and school cruyffista, no matter how offensive it is. “A review of Athletic, another to PSG in the return, 1-6 to Real … There have been great football moments,” they point out from the club. But Koeman has it clear. “I understand that you have questions after this second half,” he admitted after Levante. They are the chiaroscuro of Koeman.
With the club made a few foxes after the Lisbon debacle (2 to 8 against Bayern) in the previous year, Koeman found himself with a shake in the dressing room that he had to face – how to explain the goodbye to Luis Suárez and Rakitic – , without money to sign (he unsuccessfully tried to center Eric García and forward Memphis Depay), without a president at times due to the elections demanded after the Barçagate, and with Messi sulking because they didn’t let him leave. But as a club man that he is, he accepted it with resignation. “He does not deceive you and that is what the players want,” admitted a player at the time in a locker room who went through more intense training sessions. “You play as you train,” intoned Koeman, also capable of cheering 10.
Adapted to the circumstances, he found in the young people the best of the responses to the point that Pedri (18 years old), Ansu (18) and Dest (20) were screwed in the eleven as Mingueza (21) and Araujo (21) did later. ), also to a lesser extent Ilaix (18) and Trincão (21). There was no place for Pjanic, signing of the course. “It is a team of the future,” Koeman highlighted recently. With that and with the systems dance he came to compete in the League, logical if the salary budget is taken into account. “Four months ago we did not expect to fight for the title,” said Koeman. But he has come face to face with reality, drowning the team in the mental, physical and football terms. It happens that the legs are not always the reflection of the feet and the team has not had a recognizable game, perhaps in the transitions and especially in the punch because there is no other team that attacks more in the League. But even if the ball is ruled, Barcelona have never dominated their rivals from start to finish and many of the tactical decisions have been discussed. More than anything because his original idea went through the 4-2-3-1, more defensive system by definition. “It is the best for these players,” defended the Dutchman, who changed his mind due to the lack of play and results. He used the 4-3-3, improved and hit the 3-5-2, at least to cut points and disappointments.
It was insufficient, however, to give the stature in the big stakes because it has not won a single one – perhaps the Cup final against Athletic -, lost in Europe to Juve in the group stage and then PSG, denied by the Madrid (two defeats) and Atlético (defeat and draw) in the League, surpassed by Athletic in the Super Cup.
Technician chosen by the previous president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, because he wanted to reconnect with the fans and there is no one better than the man who gave the first European Cup to Barça (1992), now Koeman attends with bewilderment to doubts about his figure. “I would like to answer about my continuity after the last game. The president has shown me his confidence from day one. I have signed two years and I see myself as a coach next year ”, he reflected before taking on Levante and that his team was blurred, repeated losses and broken lines, in addition to some controversial changes because Sergi Roberto played central when he was a winger or half and Braithwaite and Riqui Puig appeared in the final bars, anonymous during the course.
An accumulation of strikers that he also does in his own area in case of trouble, although with defenders. Koeman already warned that it was about winning at all costs, something that collides with cruyffistas Y guardiolistas, who always took refuge in Johan’s sentence: “It’s all very simple: if you score one more goal than your opponent, you win.” And that has been lacking on many occasions at Ronald Koeman’s Barça.