In an interview with SPORT, the Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman admits his team is not among the favourites to win the Champions League, although he's satisified with how the season has started and accepts that if there's no money, there will be no signings in January.
-At the start of every season, Barça are among the favourites for the Champions League. But this season they seem to have dropped back, according to the experts. Even supporters seem resigned regarding the club's chances in Europe. Do you think this side is capable of winning the competition?
To win the Champions League, we have to improve. Right now, teams like Bayern Munich are perhaps ahead, as a team and as a block, because they've spent more time playing together... it's going to be very complicated for us, it's true. But there's a future. And in the future you never know when things can come together.
-The 'Koeman project' is for the future, then?
I don't know if I have to call it a project, because it's not in my hands, either. What is in my hands is the system of play, the capacity to move certain positions and to try and be versatile with the players. To increase the intensity of the training sessions, to work on tactics, even though that's hard with the number of games we have and the packed calendar. In summary: change the image of the team. That's what we speak about: it's the fundamental part of my job, but there are other things not in my hands. I don't say that to complain, because I don't have complaints, I am focused on my job, in how I have to work as a coach.
Evertone knows the positions I have said I want to strengthen, but it all depends on the club's financial situation
-When you say not everything's in your hands, I read that as signings. How's your relationship with the sporting directorate and especially sporting director Ramon Planes?
Very good. We've spoke from the first day. We both want the best for the club but we know it depends on the finances. Barça are one of the clubs worst affected by the coronavirus crisis because it's a club that depends a lot on the tourists and the people that come to the ground. What I can ask for from the sporting directorate will depend on the club's finances. If things can change, good. If not, we accept it and work with what we have.
We are changing things, betting on youngsters, giving a new lease of life to the team. I have no complaints
-Memphis Depay in January?
I don't know. There are various parties involved: Barça, his club (Lyon) and, of course, the financial part. I don't want to talk about this a lot. I prefer to talk about players that are here. Everyone knows the positions I have said I would like to strengthen but it all depends on the club's financial situation.
He's very good but he's playing for Liverpool. He could be an option in the future. I can't say more.
El Barça es un equipo que quiere jugar, crear oportunidades y esa idea a veces puede generar espacios que permitan al rival hacernos daño
-What have you liked most so far this season?
I like this Barça. The team still has a lot of quality. Performances depend a lot on the fitness of the players, but in general, I am happy. For example, with Dembele: he's working well and is physically better than before. In some positions we have limitations and we have to improve, but the reaction of the players that have been here the longest is good. They positively value what we're doing and have bought into it. It's clear that we can improve and we have to improve, but we're on the right path. We're changing things, betting on young players, giving a new lease of life to the team. I have no complaints.
-In contrast, you're short at centre-back and the team's struggled in defence this season.
In recent games, yes, but that doesn't depend only on the centre-backs, but also on the help from the midfielders and the forwards. Maybe in recent games, especially against Dynamo Kyiv and Real Betis, we've conceded chances. We have to improve defensively but we're fine: Barça are a team that wants to play, to create chances and that idea can sometimes generate space that allows the opposition to do damage.