Koeman

Ronald Koeman: More than just a manager

OPINION

@albertsaezc

The situation couldn't be any more strange. The biggest crisis at Barça in the last 20 years has happened without fans waving their white hankies, whistling at the players following an awful result like the one in Lisbon and being unable to protest by not renewing our season tickets because they've returned part of it already. We will remember this as a before and after moment in the history of the club. It was the same when Kubala joined, Cruyff, Maradona and the discovery of Leo Messi. Barça overcomes everything. It's like in a family when suddenly the parents take a wage cut, the brothers are fighting, someone threatens to leave home and the parents consider moving to another flat.

In this situation, Ronald Koeman must take his dream job but it comes with a price: he has to revolutionise a squad which was running on empty before the match against Liverpool, he has to do that whilst respecting and placating the best player in the world who is Messi, with an outgoing board of directors who are more concerned about the financial situation of the club and a wage bill that can't be added to. Most people wouldn't have accepted the job under these conditions and it says a lot about Koeman that he did. It shows his courage and his love for Barcelona.

No one can give him lessons about the style of play because he was part of the Dream Team and has been loyal to that style at every club he's worked at. He loves possession and searching for goals. No one needs to show him what this club is about and no one needs to explain the challenges of modern football. Koeman is more than prepared but the challenges ahead of him are enormous. He must renovate this squad spending less than he brings in from sales. He has to deal with a strange transfer market, deeply impacted by the cost of the coronavirus pandemic. And he must help Messi win another Champions League in his final cycle at Barça. 

The biggest threat is Koeman is in the firing line for all of those situations. Some supporters could turn their backs on the team until the elections take place in March. The coronavirus outbreak makes this easier to do than normal. The board could take control of the transfers and move on players without the manager's agreement. The players, especially those who are no longer needed, could focus on their own financial gain and not show any desire to leave and rather see out their contracts. The way in which Messi is won over, or not, will be crucial to knowing how the 'feeling' is between the club and his entourage is right now.

If we allow Koeman to take on all those challenges alone, we run the risk of killing the essence of this club, both socially and on a sporting level. The new coach must tread carefully until the season starts and he's able to win over others with his style of football. Until then, he's going to be under pressure to rescue or dismiss several key players. But people should be aware that when they go to collect the loot, there might be nothing left in the box, and that works both for the current board, for the presidential candidates and especially for the players. Koeman has to be protected because this year he is condemned to be more than a coach as is Barça to be more than a club.

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