Ronald Koeman has broken his silence regarding his exit from Barcelona in an interview with the Dutch media in comments carried by Mundo Deportivo. He labelled the day he was dismissed by the Blaugrana his most difficult moment as a coach.
“You won’t see me at Camp Nou for a while, I can’t do that yet,” Koeman said. “With this president I can’t pretend that nothing happened. They didn’t give me the time they’ve given Xavi [Hernandez]. It’s painful for me. I wasn’t [Joan] Laporta’s coach. I had that feeling from the first moment; there was no click after the election. That necessary support from above was lacking.
“The important thing was never money for me. I really wanted to succeed as coach of Barcelona, to do everything I could. But I realised that Laporta wanted to get rid of me because I wasn’t appointed by him. Although he told me a thousand times that Xavi wasn’t going to be his coach, because he lacked experience. But he needed a shield, someone to hide behind.”
Koeman took over at Camp Nou in the summer of 2020, just after the Blaugrana had been hammered 8-2 by Bayern Munich in a one-leg Champions League quarter-final in Lisbon. They finished third in La Liga under his watch during his first season in charge and also won the Copa del Rey, beating Athletic Club in the final.
But he lost Lionel Messi during the summer transfer window to Paris Saint-Germain and it soon became clear that the writing was on the wall. His team weren’t playing with any discernible style and without Messi papering over the cracks it became clear the Dutchman was out of his depth. A defeat in late October to Rayo Vallecano sealed his fate and earned him the sack.
Xavi has since taken over and Barcelona are gradually improving, playing football more in line with their tradition and beginning to put together a strong run of results domestically and in Europe.