Desperate Ronald Koeman pays ultimate price after failing leadership test at Barcelona

The inevitable has happened and Barcelona president Joan Laporta has sacked Ronald Koeman.

Koeman has been under intense pressure for months having struggled to get to grips with Barcelona‘s crisis on and off the field.

The departure of Lionel Messi, combined with financial turmoil and a mountain injuries have made things difficult at Camp Nou.

Make no mistake, Koeman had a tough job this season, not helped by the fact his boss, Laporta, didn’t want him doing the job in the first place.

But it was Koeman who dug his own grave here.

In a time of crisis, Football Club Barcelona needed a leader, a beacon of hope at a time when there was little.

With the greatest of respect to Barca fans, or Culés, as they are better known, it doesn’t take much for the word crisis to enter the frame.

Nor would it after so many successful years – it’s a fanbase that has become used having very little adversity, and who wouldn’t wish for that as a fan?

But this is indeed a true crisis for their club. Over €1billion in debt and struggling to comply with La Liga salary rules, even Laporta has cut a concerned figure more times than not.

And in such a time, Barcelona needed a leader, a head coach who could, at the very least, still afford fans space to dream, even if come May it didn’t all pan out.

Instead, a desperate Koeman took every opportunity to remind them what wasn’t possible.

For much of this season, the Dutchman has pointed to the deficiencies in his squad, the injuries, the lack of new signings.

And for all of this season, he has cut a desperate figure who was concerned more about keeping his job than doing it.

Desperate people do desperate things, and that tells the story of Koeman’s recent months in charge.

As former players like Miralem Pjanic and Matheus Fernandes have gone on to reveal, his treatment of many players has been less than respectful.

He has gone to war with the media who, it has to be said, haven’t always been kind to him, either.

And instead of taking responsibilities for his deficiencies as a coach and as a leader, he has unloaded his suitcase of excuses week after week.

It has been a showcase of everything you would not expect to see from a leadership figure.

Though, Barcelona and Laporta have some blame of their own in all this.

Over the course of the summer, Laporta pretty publicly searched for a replacement and told Koeman he could stay if he didn’t find one.

It led to angry Twitter posts from Koeman’s representatives that were later deleted.

Still, despite the disrespect and the lack of communication from his boss, who clearly wasn’t convinced by him after Barca’s title collapse last season, Koeman stayed.

The desperation started there, and at every crisis point along the way, be it the departure of Messi, the salary cap issues or the Champions League hammerings at the hands of Bayern Munich and Benfica, Koeman has looked a desperate man.

Perhaps consequently, the team has looked just as lost, and while hindsight is 20/20, Koeman would have been better off walking away before all this unfolded.

You have to respect the determination and the love for the club he showed to want to stay in spite of it all, that he could find it within himself to believe he could take on this momentous challenge.

Ronald Koeman of FC Barcelona

Getty Images

But in the cold light of day, when Koeman looked at the situation in front of him, it’s hard to see why he wasn’t advised to call it a day at Camp Nou.

A president who didn’t want him, his best player on the brink of leaving, a depleted squad that was destined to get worse and a fanbase who didn’t believe he was fit to manage the club.

That was the time to walk away, but Koeman stayed and here we are.

Koeman moves on, his image as a club legend remains, if not tarnished somewhat, and Barcelona are searching for a new manager.

It’s a search that could start and end with former midfielder Xavi Hernandez, but whoever it is faces a tough challenge.

Barca are hanging on by a thread in the Champions League and it’s a similar case in La Liga.

The financial issues remain, so do the injury problems, and it’s going to take a top-class individual to to sort this out.

But above all, Barcelona need something Koeman was not – a leader – and be it young Xavi or a more experienced candidate, that attribute must be the starting point in this process.

Tags FC Barcelona Joan Laporta Ronald Koeman Xavi Hernandez