Opinion – Cry me a river, Ronald Koeman.
It looks set to be a long year for Barcelona, and it seems increasingly likely that current head coach Koeman will not make it through the duration.
Barca drew with Cadiz on Thursday night to extend their winless run to three, and they have only won two of their first six games across all competitions.
That has left Koeman under intense pressure, and it is showing.
The Dutchman refused to take questions in his pre-match press conference during the week, reading out a statement to request support before walking out.
By Thursday night, he was walking off. Koeman was sent off during Barca’s draw with Cadiz, leaving him on the brink.
We have known for some time that the former Everton boss is not the man Joan Laporta and his board would like in charge, and now he has lost all credit with the fans, too, and it’s not difficult to see why.
Koeman has had it tough this season, seeing his squad lose huge amounts of quality through the departures of Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann.
But this is as much about attitude as it is results.
As a former player, Koeman should know that Barcelona are a club who like to dream big. They wouldn’t be the club they are without such a bold mindset.
That’s something Koeman does not seem to share.
The 58-year-old has consistently pointed to the circumstances surrounding the club, the weakening of his squad, injuries and other issues amid poor results.
But what he fails to do is give fans cause for hope, and in doing so, he fails to back his team with the unwavering confidence any manager should have in their players.
Koeman’s latest complaint read: “But you have to be realistic. One has to see the squad that we have, the people that we are missing.”
That statement is as boring as it is unfounded.
Even with injuries and summer departures, Barcelona started their Cadiz clash with a starting XI worth €302million, as per Transfermarkt conservative values.
Koeman also had a bench worth €128.5million to call upon, comparing to a Cadiz matchday squad which, as a whole, is worth €45.1million.
Put simply, Koeman has players that many managers dream of having, and fans still have to listen to complaints over a lack of quality as the Dutchman tries to claim his squad can’t beat Granada and Cadiz because of circumstances beyond his control.
For reference, Rayo Vallecano beat Granada and scored four goals in the process less than a month ago, while Osasuna scored three to defeat Cadiz on the same weekend.
Injuries are also a problem for Barcelona, Koeman currently without seven players currently, including Ansu Fati, Sergio Aguero, Pedri and Jordi Alba, among others.
Real Sociedad currently have nine first-team injuries, the most in la Liga, including key players Alexander Isak and David Silva, but they are unbeaten since the first game of the season.
They came from behind to beat Granada on Thursday night having drawn away to Sevilla during the week, and we are not hearing Alguacil pleading for sympathy.
This is a question of attitude. In Alguacil we see a manager determined to get the best out of what he has, regardless of the injury issues facing him.
His attitude is that if the ship is sinking, you patch holes, whip up a new sail and give it a shot.
Koeman, meanwhile, continues to be pessimistic, resigning to a death at sea, to continue the metaphor.
So, whose boat would you rather be on?
Sergi Roberto has told us the answer. When asked about Koeman’s pessimistic views, he said: “At this club, we have to win La Liga, I’m not interested in just finishing top four.
“We have a very good squad, some players have left, but that’s no excuse, we have to come together and aim to win La Liga.”
If only Koeman showed that level of optimism, if only he put confidence in players like Roberto and took responsibility for not getting the best out of his squad.
The Dutchman calls it ‘realism’, but anyone who lives life as an optimist – values Barca were born out of – knows that ‘realism’ is just another word for ‘pessimism’.
And if poor performance doesn’t cost Koeman his job, it’ll be his negativity, his failure to engage supporters, to take responsibility and be the leader Barcelona need during this difficult spell.
It’s too easy to sit back and allow Laporta to take the lead, to be the man transmitting hope.
Koeman will never get an opportunity like this again. He was fortunate to get it in the first place.
But he has still managed to waste the opportunity to stand up and lead Barcelona with optimism and positivity when the club needed it most.
Instead, he has crawled up into a ball and thought only of protecting his job, and ultimately, that is what will cost him his job.