Those who know Ronald Koeman say that the Dutch coach is enjoying his first year on the Barça bench. After suffering a fright with a heart attack, he has learned that it is time to worry about important things. Alien to social media, he does not waste time in the intense debates that arise after each match but last a few days. His gaze is long and that is why he does not understand the disappointment of many Barcelona players with the performance of his team. Koeman believes that the season lasts a long time, that the marks are put at the end of the course and that it should be borne in mind that they have not made a sad signing. It lacks some reason.
But after the first half of the season, Koeman has failed to give stability to a project that needs it. His Barça, like the tide, is now moving forward, now retreating. And when the important appointments arrive it demonstrates a worrying emotional fragility, added to the problems of the Dutch technician to modify the course of the parties with the changes. Against Athletic, again, it took a long time to make substitutions even though his team had only shot once in the goal in 70 minutes. Marcelino García Toral won the tactical battle for him, as other coaches have done on important match days, such as Zidane in the classic, Simeone against Atlético and Pirlo in the match against Juve at the Camp Nou. The victory against the Italians in Turin is one of the few blows of authority of Koeman’s Barça after the first six months of adventure. And against Real Sociedad in the semifinals of Córdoba was played with fire. Ter Stegen turned it off.
The duel against PSG, key
The return to the Camp Nou is Koeman’s great opportunity to continue relaunching a coaching career that was withering away after an encouraging start. With the selection of the Netherlands he began to recover his optimism and Barça is now a dream come true for Koeman, despite having to speak with a provisional management board that cannot give him a single signing. Koeman, however, knows that, beyond the results, he will be judged by the evolution of his team’s game, if he wants to stay on the bench. The coach knows that football, a sometimes very cruel sport, will not guarantee that he will have a job next season unless he manages to get a very good grade this season. If his Barça face the next important dates, especially the duel against PSG, playing as he did in La Cartuja, the president who wins the elections will surely choose not to give him power next season. Now, in this strange officially frozen election campaign, the candidates are giving him public support. But if Koeman doesn’t generate consensus, changing coaches would be a weapon the new president would have to cheer the fans on and start a new cycle. There will be no shortage of candidates to occupy the local bench at the Camp Nou.
Tusquets is left without a title
After the first half year of adventure, his Barça is neither meat nor fish. He has improved in attack, especially when Messi has regained the laughter he lost again in Sevilla. Barça have won 15 official matches, but have not won in 11. And in defense it fits too well, partly because of Piqué’s loss. Koeman, making his way, seems to be betting on some young people, but not all. From time to time he gives minutes to La Masia players, but he does it more out of necessity, as with Araujo or Mingueza, than out of conviction. Sometimes it is ordered through the ball in a style similar to the 4-3-3 and sometimes it is closed in defense, more garrepa. It often seems that he will be able to face the big clubs in Europe, but when the important dates come, his Barça is more like Quique Setión’s than the proposal for the future that he should symbolize himself. The Dutch coach is playing a lot, in the coming months. And he won’t make excuses. It will depend on him if he is a coach to cover the hole of a season or if, as he did as a player, he overcomes a bad starting point to end up touching the sky.