We all knew the day of the Barcelona downfall would come, even the most passionate of fans would have been expecting it, but not in this fashion, not in this manner, not with Lionel Messi still at the club.
Yet here we are. Barcelona are 10th having just been beaten by Diego Simeone for the first time; Ronald Koeman already looks out of ideas, and Barcelona look as average as a side scrapping for mid-table mediocracy.
The general conception and plan would have been to prepare for a Messi-less Barcelona. Once the Argentinian star departed, then, and only then, would the Blaugrana capitulate. At least, that’s what was meant to happen. That is the situation in which those in charge would have been preparing for.
Whilst Messi remained, his magic to produce the all-important rabbit out of the hat, or, in Barcelona’s case, the flow of silverware, would paper over the cracks long enough for a plan B to be developed; long enough to, for now, paper over the cracks.
That plan worked for some time, too. Whilst they didn’t look spectacular, Messi’s magic ensured Barcelona’s place amongst the elite. It was not a masterplan- not by any means- but it came without its risks because that golden touch would never begin to rust, right? Think again.
Lack of Messi Magic Forming Nightmare Barcelona Narrative
Messi Magic No More
Those in charge at Barcelona would have been more relieved than ever to see Lionel Messi walk through the Nou Camp doors again after so much uncertainty within the summer. With his stay, they still had their plan A; they still had the paper over the cracks.
Without him, their lack of long-term planning would be exposed. With him at the helm, his goals galore would keep them afloat. The plan was risk-free because the goals wouldn’t dry up, and the magic would not wear away, not least for another few years anyway- therefore giving the Blaugrana time to plan.
But, fast forward a couple of months and the rust is beginning to squeak between the Barcelona Wizard’s boots; Barcelona’s plan A has come to a crashing halt, and a plan B looks as far away as ever.
The Barcelona downfall was expected, but only once Messi had departed. And this is the idea that would have been planned for. So, what happens when the plummet rapidly begins, even with the icon still in the spotlight?
The fact is, Barcelona would have been planning for an eventual exit from their star, and had at least a year to do so. But, the thought of the goals drying up, the magic wearing away, and golden touch fading would not have occurred.
The general concept of Messi being out of form seemed impossible. Barcelona’s aforementioned plan A to rely on the Argentine’s magic seemed infallible. The question of what to do when Lionel Messi fails to perform has never crossed anyone’s mind, and rightfully.
Three La Liga goals in eight appearances later, though, and Ronald Koeman is posed with that exact question.
Koeman Facing the Impossible
The pressure placed onto those within the technical area at the Camp Nou is always prominent. And, after overseeing Barcelona’s worst start to a La Liga season since 1991- with just 11 points in eight games- the pressure is well and truly on Ronald Koeman.
The Dutchman’s job has already been thrown into question; his side have already suffered defeats to Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid and sit nine points adrift in the La Liga title race.
No one said it would be easy, but, factor in the lack of Messi form, and the severity of the task placed in front of Koeman becomes all too real and perhaps impossible.
Being asked to take a Barcelona side fresh from an 8-2 mauling at the hands of Bayern Munich into a new season is one thing. Being asked to do it amid so much uncertainty, a star man who is no longer starring, and an ageing squad is an entirely more complex challenge.
Ronald Koeman is learning this the hard way and, as the results continue to dwindle, so will the Dutchman’s job security.
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