Koeman sacked as Barcelona coach

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Ronald Koeman has been sacked from his job as Barcelona coach, the club announced on Wednesday after the loss to Rayo Vallecano that left the club ninth in La Liga.

Barca have won just two of their last seven league games under Koeman, a series that included a loss to Real Madrid in Sunday’s Clasico at Camp Nou.

A poor start to the season has raised the possibility that the team will not qualify for the Champions League next season, which would have huge consequences for the club’s already dire financial situation.

Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez, who currently manages Qatari club Al Sadd, and River Plate coach Marcel Gallardo are said to be among the candidates being considered.

A club statement issued after midnight in Spain on Wednesday said: “FC Barcelona have sacked Ronald Koeman from his position as first-team coach tonight.

Club president Joan Laporta informed him after the loss to Rayo Vallecano. Ronald Koeman will say his farewell to the team this Thursday at Ciudad Deportiva.

“FC Barcelona would like to thank him for his service and wish him good luck in his career.”

Koeman spent six years at Barcelona as a player and is considered a club legend after scoring the game-winning goal in the 1992 European Cup final against Sampdoria.

He was appointed coach by former Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu in August 2020 and had some success in his debut season, winning the Copa del Rey and bringing back a disillusioned Lionel Messi.

But a disappointing La Liga finish and a convincing defeat for Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League in the last 16 cast doubt on Koeman’s ability to navigate the biggest games, a criticism leveled at him again over the week. -end last after the loss to Real Madrid.

1.35 billion euros in debt

Joan Laporta was re-elected president in March and although he allowed Koeman to continue as a coach this season, there has never been much trust between the two.

Laporta told Koeman this summer he wanted 15 days to look for a replacement while Koeman reacted badly to Laporta last month suggesting that the coaches don’t have all the power.

“He’s talked too much,” Koeman said.

No replacement has been found or could be persuaded to take over, possibly due in part to Barcelona’s perilous financial woes.

The club are in debt of € 1.35 billion and had to see Messi join Paris Saint-Germain in August after failing to renew the Argentine’s contract.

Other key players like Antoine Griezmann also left without being adequately replaced as Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay both arrived on free transfers and Luuk de Jong came from Sevilla on loan.

Koeman’s honest approach was widely accepted and even appreciated last season, but his negative assessment of his side this quarter was seen by many as counterproductive and unworthy of a Barcelona manager.

Youngsters like Pedri, Gavi, Nico Gonzalez, Sergino Dest and Ronald Araujo have all benefited from Koeman’s faith, but more established players have suffered a drop in form.

Frenkie de Jong, who has known Koeman since he was in charge of the Dutch national team, has had a particularly disappointing few weeks.

There was criticism of Koeman’s style of play, which became increasingly direct, while the board were reportedly irritated by his departure from the club’s traditions of playing 4-3-3.

But the results were the key factor, as the back-to-back 3-0 defeats to Bayern Munich and Benfica were followed by losses to Atletico and Real Madrid.

Laporta said ahead of the international break that Koeman “deserved the benefit of the doubt”, ending speculation he would lose his job following the loss to Atletico.

But faced with an early exit from the Champions League and the possibility of not being in the La Liga top four, Laporta, who was at Vallecas on Wednesday night, decided to act.

ta / dj