Laporta was very, very angry when Barca inexplicably let La Liga escape. The team slumped in a football, physical and mental sense at the decisive moment of the season. And the president blamed, equally, the players and the coach for the disaster. He announced the end of a cycle with the squad and questioned whether Koeman should stay. After various doubts, meetings, opinions and criticism, Laporta decided to give Koeman a second chance even though he wasn’t his favourite option. Laporta now regrets how close to the bone he got, even offending the Wembley hero with his doubts. But he knows it was his job to test whether the Dutchman was capable of leading this new Barca. The coach, eventually given public backing by Laporta, takes on his second season with hope and pressure. Hope of winning a great title. And pressure because he knows he is obliged to win one.
Koeman spoke to Barca TV and said he expects a lot of this campaign, even if it depends on the squad that’s finally put together. He said he was pleased “to have the respect of the president” and praised the two players who should lead the project. Messi and Pedri. For Koeman, Messi staying is crucial. “He’s vital for his game, he’s the captain and an example, he’s shown again that he’s the best player in the world.” The mix of veterans and youth must be managed smartly by Koeman. He accepts the challenge of changing the recent sad story of Barcelona. It won’t be easy. Nothing is.