Ronald Koeman in his pre-match press conference for the Cadiz game away at the Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla read out an austere and seemingly serious statement, urging Barcelona fans to back the team through the season in Spain and Europe and highlighted the fact that they were doing the best they could both on and off the field with the resources that they have.
This comes amidst a public backlash from the club’s fans against the Dutch manager who has been accused of changing the playing style of Barcelona from the famed tiki-taka approach to a more direct method of play seen against Granada last weekend.
As Ronald Koeman and Barcelona prepare for their game against Cadiz and with other more difficult games in the offing over the coming few weeks, FootTheBall dissects the situation at Camp Nou this season.
FEEBLE DISPLAY BY BARCELONA AGAINST GRANADA
Granada are currently lying in the relegation zone in La Liga, having not won a single match in their run of 5 games in La Liga until now. Their last visit before coming to Barcelona was a 0-4 loss to Rayo Vallecano in the Spanish capital.
But, in the Catalan capital, after having rested some of their key players, they were able to secure a draw and a point on the road against a side that were two years ago champions of Spain in La Liga.
Barcelona fired in 54 crosses in the entire game against Granada, with 45 of those coming in open play – more than any other side in Europe’s top 5 leagues this season – but still managed to score just one goal, that too courtesy of a defender – Koeman’s namesake Ronald Araujo – who had been their best attacking threat all night.
Luuk de Jong was brought in as a half-time substitution for Sergi Roberto with a defender – Gerard Pique – rather than an attacker joining the Dutchman up front to add some bite into Barcelona’s hapless attack.
In the end, the goal came in the form of a cross that was whipped in by academy player Gavi and met by Ronald Araujo to restore parity. Nevertheless the overall result of the match left a bitter taste in the mouths of Barcelona fans as they saw their team labour to a draw against a relegation-threatened side at home.
KOEMAN DEFENDS HIS STANCE IN CADIZ PRE-MATCH PRESS CONFERENCE
Normally, Ronald Koeman – or any other manager in football – takes questions from the media in a routine pre-match press conference, but the Barcelona manager instead read out a statement in a deadpan manner in front of the press before the midweek game at Cadiz.
He asked patience on the part of Barcelona fans in the face of the current downturn that the club is experiencing both on and off the pitch in Catalonia, emphasising the need to play more direct football instead of the aesthetically pleasing and historically relevant method of playing tiki-taka style football.
“The club is with me in a situation of rebuilding. The economic situation is linked to the situation on the pitch” said the Dutch manager.
“We as a staff have to rebuild the team without making big investments and that takes time. The young talents can be world stars in a couple of years. The youngsters will have opportunities, like Xavi [Hernandez] and [Andres] Iniesta had, but patience is required.
“Besides, to finish high in the league table would be a success. In the Champions League, no miracles can be expected. The defeat against Bayern [Munich] must be seen in that light.
“The team must be supported, in words and actions. I know that the press recognises this process, it is not the first time in history that this has happened.
“We count on your support in these decisive times. We are very, very happy with the support of the fans, as was the case against Granada. Come on, Barcelona!.”
The Catalans have only played five times this season, but draws against Athletic Club in Bilbao and Granada at home have raised a lot of eyebrows at Ronald Koeman, with patience running out amongst Barcelona fans even though appointing his successor is easier said than done given the shambles the club finds itself right now financially and also from a sporting perspective.
Players such as Ansu Fati, Ousmane Dembele and Sergio Aguero are still to feature for the Blaugrana this season in any competition – be it La Liga or the Champions League – that they have played in.
And with patience running out among the cules of Barcelona, it remains to be seen whether Koeman will be able to retain his job in Catalonia past the end of this year or not.