Joan Laporta’s decision to keep Ronald Koeman drew some criticism from the media at the beginning of the season, but not as much as his decision to take two weeks to work out Ronald Koeman’s future.
Speaking to Mundo Deportivo as part of the an extended interview with the Catalan Daily, Laporta was asked to explain exactly what the story was behind Koeman’s stint while he was at the helm.
Koeman was appointed by former Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu in the summer of 2020 and Laporta was set on replacing the Dutchman in the summer. However, things didn’t exactly go as planned. Laporta detailed what he told Koeman in the summer of 2021.
“Don’t make me answer you right now because I have my doubts, we won the cup but I don’t like how we’re playing. The system has changed. I can understand changing the system because you don’t have the adequate players for the system we want to play but I have doubts, let me reflect on things for 15 days and then I’ll give you an answer.”
The season didn’t start off well for Barcelona and it looked as if Laporta might replace Koeman in October, only to hand him a reprieve.
“He was under contract and it wasn’t exactly an opportune moment to change manager and we gave him a chance. That opportunity didn’t go well due to the circumstances, because he also had injured players, a squad that had been eroded in terms of mentality and motivation. Given there were so many injuries, we gave [Koeman] a second chance.”
After another poor month of results however, Laporta eventually decided to get rid of Koeman in November.
“But at a certain point, I could see that things were going down the wrong path, we weren’t doing well. We had been continuously talking to Xavi since the elections. So I asked if he was ready to come and if he was able to immediately because he was in Qatar and he was under contract. He said yes, then Mateu [Alemany] and [Rafa] Yuste went over and sorted it out.”
Things have taken a significant upward turn under Xavi, but many have wondered if he should have arrived in the summer. Laporta said he had no regrets about how he handled it later in the interview.