Ronald Koeman is and will be officially the coach of Barcelona, at least until this Saturday, when the Barça team will face Atlético de Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano. The board chaired by Joan Laporta would have liked to endure the Dutch coach much longer, if possible until December or even until the end of the season, which is when the contract he signed with former president Josep Maria Bartomeu in August 2020 ends. Continuity of the coach, however, has become “unsustainable”, according to the qualifier used by sources close to the board, after the 3-0 conceded against Benfica in Lisbon. So now it’s about resisting at the Camp Nou until finding Koeman’s replacement.
The choice is not easy because hiring a short-term replacement is initially ruled out, there are also no internal solutions due to the lack of a contrasted and defined sports organization chart and a consensus technician has not been found to lead the sports project within a period of time. three to four years as Laporta intends. The robot portrait is a modern coach who trains and is respectful of the Barça style. There is an obsession to increase the volume of work and the dedication of the footballers after verifying that the team defeats rivals with better physical preparation and greater rhythm of play, and also to recover the essence of the game that Johan personified in his day. Cruyff and Pep Guardiola.
The reference would be the German model defended by Tomas Tuchel, the Chelsea coach, or Julian Nagelsmann, Bayern Munich coach. Neither of them is within reach of Barcelona. The alternatives are various and some even contradictory, if one looks at the catalog that is handled at the Camp Nou: Roberto Martínez, Belgian coach, and Xavi Hernández, from Al Sadd, both close to Jordi Cruyff, head of the international observers for Barcelona. Also on the list is Andrea Pirlo, a former Juve coach and one of the candidates Laporta likes the most, according to information from Catalunya Ràdio and the newspaper ABC, and he has consulted with technicians such as Marcelo Gallardo, currently at River.
Some of those consulted could join immediately while there are also those who could only direct the Barça team from next season, a vital circumstance to understand the extension granted to Koeman. The club needs to find the name and the moment to officiate the change and explain that the decision is not only sporting but strategic and therefore more complicated than usual, in need of reflection, nothing to rush no matter how much the Champions League scoreboard may rush and of the league. The context does not seem to favor Xavi Hernández for being an acquaintance in the Camp Nou dressing room, not having experience in a top-class team and not representing the demanding model to which Laporta aspires.
The sports organization chart is not yet complete and curiously contemplates the figure of a high-performance director to reinforce the plan of the Barça board. Although the club is financially bankrupt and conditioned by the salary limit, the administrative direction understands that there is enough liquidity to hire a coach after paying the 12 million euros that Koeman’s dismissal will cost.
The president has definitely distanced himself from the coach after Wednesday’s game at the Da Luz stadium. Laporta didn’t like Koeman’s line-up, changes, or match direction. The feeling from the board is that the coach has chosen to make the limitations of the team and the squad more evident instead of hiding them or optimizing resources once the structural weakness of Barça is known. This is not Koeman’s opinion. The Dutchman believes that since the board of directors his credibility has been weakened and undermined after it became known that his position had been at stake since June when the president gave himself 15 days of margin in case he found a better one for the hero of Wembley 1992. The situation from time to time it has been extended game by game until it reaches Wanda. Although he will not sit on the bench because he is suspended, Koeman will be the official coach of Barcelona.
At the end of the game, Laporta will be able to negotiate in advance the replacement of the current coach for the League break. The next game for the Catalans will be on October 17 against Valencia. The same day the assembly of compromisarios partners is held and therefore the management of Laporta will be audited. Therefore, it is convenient for the president to have the situation of the bench resolved to avoid a greater personal wear and tear after he will refer to the management of the board of the resigned Bartomeu to explain the economic situation.
Loyalty to the coach and the technical secretary
Joan Laporta never fired the coach during his term from 2003 to 2010. He kept Frank Rijkaard despite the fact that his continuity was seriously discussed by the board itself and then he opted for Pep Guardiola. They were not accidental decisions, but were bets of the technical secretary, who was always Txiki Begiristain, and they were endorsed by Johan Cruyff. The sports line now depends mainly on the president and the football director Mateo Alemany. The technical secretary Ramon Planes and the sports vice president Rafa Yuste complete the team that decides on the bench.
The context apparently favored the option of Xavi, willing to lead the Barcelona project without the demands that were supposed to him when he rejected the proposal that former president Josep Maria Bartomeu put to him in his day. Although he does not have an escape clause in his contract with Al-Sadd, the former Barça captain would agree to return to the Camp Nou. We must not forget, on the other hand, that Xavi and Jordi Cruyff – now the club’s head of international football – were the leaders of the sporting project of candidate Víctor Font.
Laporta, however, gains time in search of a surprising coach, a circumstance that already occurred in the subsidiary, when he unexpectedly opted for Sergi Barjuán after García Pimienta, a great connoisseur of La Masia, was fired.
The quarry is right now the reference of Barcelona football with players like Gavi, Nico, Mingueza, Araujo, Riqui Puig and, especially, Ansu Fati, who has inherited the jersey with the 10 worn by Messi or Ronaldinho and reappeared with a goal , after ten months out, against Levante.