BARCELONA – Ronald Koeman celebrates six months as Barcelona coach this Friday at a particularly critical moment at the Camp Nou.
Without a president and without money, at the gates of polarized elections between the candidates, the present, and future, the institutional club could not be more dramatic; sportingly the situation is not understood much better. Dismounted in a League whose conquest is mission impossible, faced with a very complicated comeback in the Cup and doomed to another utopian in the Champions League, the Dutch coach navigates in the best way through a storm that has barely given him a break since he signed his contract .
On August 19, Koeman was presented with a first firm speech that already ventured his roadmap. “I want people who are going to give everything for Barça,” proclaimed the coach, confident, despite everything, in recovering the spirit of a club that had collapsed emotionally after the debacle suffered in Lisbon against Bayern Munich. He never hid the difficulty of the company but his personality and his ascendancy around Barcelona ventured a certain rebirth in terms of the team’s renewal process, but the road has ended up having many more stones than could be expected.
BETWEEN THE PAST AND THE FUTURE
Eight defeats in the first 35 official games of the season, the worst statistic since the 2003-04 season, have put the team on the wire and Koeman on the bullseye more than once during this time. Determined, from the outset, with a system that he had to give up after months, the Dutchman has tried to give a new verve to Barcelona, which smiles in a certain way with the appearance of young people who can, and should, be the backbone of the future but regrets that he is still trapped in the shadows of a huge past that does not give more of itself.
Koeman accepted the challenge of leading a project that had to break with that past but realized the enormous difficulty that this represented. Without money in the box, the squad could not be strengthened as minimally he would have wanted (Eric García, Georginio Wijnaldum, Memphis Depay) and the obligation to exit in any way a monumental player like Luis Suárez left his proposals totally lame.
The confirmation of Ansu Fati (stopped by his injury), the emergence of Ronald Araújo, the discovery of Pedri or the surprising appearance of Oscar Mingueza are the good news. Added to the growth of Frenkie de Jong or the arrival of Sergiño Dest, the rejuvenation of Barça is evident, confident of finding the regularity (if possible) of Ousmane Dembélé or the settlement of Ricar Puig to excite an environment that, however, he finds both reasons for confidence and disappointment with the results.
Almost turned into an unofficial spokesman for the club because of the clarity of his speech, Koeman dominates the stage in the press room but enjoys less and less support around the locker room. The presidential candidates defend him without daring to proclaim their blind confidence in his continuity and there are those who, always off the record, affirm that if the club were not in this interim situation, his permanence on the bench would probably be highly questioned.
Aware of the environment of a club of which he is, despite everything, an unquestionable legend, Koeman remains aloof from all the controversies that are unleashed around the Camp Nou. And so it has survived for six months in a storm that does not abate. The 1-4 of Paris Saint-Germain was a blow too hard to assimilate and there are those who maintain that six months after his arrival, his departure, no matter how much contract he has in force until 2022, will be before the agreed date.