Ronald Koeman Was Set Up to Fail at Barcelona

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The sacking of Ronald Koeman as Barcelona manager was inevitable. After all, he wasn’t the new President Joan Laporta’s managerial appointment. Add in the dismal recent results and performances, Koeman’s days at the Nou Camp were numbered.

It is hard not to feel sorry for the Dutchman though. Over the last two decades, no Barcelona manager has been dealt with such a bad hand as the Dutchman was. The financial mismanagement from former President Josep Maria Bartomeu contributed to him  effectively managing the club with one hand tied behind his back.

Ronald Koeman was set up to Fail at Barcelona

Not the Only One to Blame for Their Plight

When Ronald Koeman was appointed as Barcelona manager in August 2020, he was taking over a side that had a front three of Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann, and Lionel Messi.

In his last game in charge against Rayo Vallecano, Barcelona had a front three of Memphis Depay, Sergio Aguero, and Sergino Dest – a dramatic drop in quality.

Memphis Depay is a good player, but he is no Suarez. Sergio Aguero has had a fantastic career but at 33 years of age, he is no longer the same player he used to be.

Meanwhile, Sergino Dest is a good young talent but he is a full-back playing in a front three because Barcelona have no one else to play in that position.

Just a few weeks after taking over as Barcelona manager, Luis Suarez was let go. This, as Koeman has said, was a club decision based on the financial mismanagement under Bartomeu, which saw Barcelona make huge losses and having to save money.

This summer, both Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann left the Nou Camp. Again it wasn’t Koeman who made these decisions it was the President, this time Laporta, who was trying to deal with the financial mess that Bartomeu left behind.

Of course, Koeman can’t be entirely blameless. This season’s performances have been poor, while the style of play has also been criticised. This season hasn’t gone to plan, but much of that is down to trying to implement young players into the team, who are not fully ready to play at this level. However, given the lack of depth in their squad, it has been a case of needs must.

Whoever takes over has a huge task on their hands.

The Return of Xavi to the Nou Camp?

The favourite to become the new Barcelona manager is legendary midfielder Xavi. The Spanish World Cup winner has been managing in Qatar with Al Sadd. He has led them to the Qatar Stars League title and two Qatar Cups during his time in charge.

Appointing Xavi would represent a huge gamble. However, Laporta is known to take a gamble and for it to pay off. After all, he appointed an inexperienced and untested Pep Guardiola in 2008, and we all know what a great success that turned out to be. Laporta will be hoping that Xavi will have the same impact as Guardiola did.

Even though Xavi is inexperienced, his illustrious footballing career will instantly help him command respect in the dressing room.

However, when Guardiola took over he had the likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi himself amongst others at his disposal. The quality that Xavi will inherit is nowhere near that standard.

Despite that, Barcelona do have some great young players for Xavi to build around. The likes of Frenkie De Jong, Pedri and Ansu Fati will become mainstays for Barca for years to come.

They also have an ageing group of players like Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets that need to be moved on or phased out in the next few years. Given they are all former teammates of Xavi, will he be able to make these tough decisions?

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