Ronald Koeman wants his Barcelona facet to win massive when it visits Atlético Madrid to have a shot at saving his job.
That is, if he makes it to Saturday.
Two embarrassing losses to start out the Champions League have left the Dutch coach beneath excessive stress earlier than a visit to the capital to face the Spanish league’s titleholder.
Losing 3-0 to Bayern Munich, a European juggernaut, two weeks in the past was humbling. But to observe that up with one other 3-0 loss at Benfica — a staff it had not misplaced to since 1961 — on Wednesday could also be an excessive amount of for the membership’s management to take.
Koeman spoke after the match in Lisbon like a person who knew his time at Camp Nou may very well be counted in days, if not hours.
“As for my future, I cannot say anything because I don’t know what the club thinks about it,” Koeman said. “It is not in my hands. We will see . . . at the end, the guilty party is the coach.”
Club president Joan Laporta and Koeman have been at odds since Laporta returned to run the membership final March. Laporta went so far as to search for one other coach within the offseason earlier than lastly deciding on protecting Koeman for the second yr of his contract.
Laporta and Koeman have shared the necessity to persuade Barcelona’s followers to decrease expectations for the reason that membership was saddled with over a billion euros in debt and unable to pay Lionel Messi’s wages. But the staff has hit new lows that even with the exit of the almighty Messi are troublesome to take.
A sixth-place standing within the Spanish league has virtually change into respectable for the previous champions in comparison with its dismal exhibiting within the Champions League.
Barcelona is in final place of Group E and vulnerable to not making the knockout rounds for the primary time in 20 years. Most worryingly, a Barcelona staff that prides itself on all the time delivering attacking soccer has not even generated a shot on course in 180 minutes.
Never shy to level out his staff’s shortcomings, nor spare his gamers from what he considers simply criticism, Koeman unfold among the blame.
“Everyone knows the problem of Barcelona today,” he said. “The staff shouldn’t be the identical because it was for years. We noticed that in right this moment’s recreation. It is crystal clear. We have misplaced gamers who made the distinction . . . I’m not saying that we now have to simply accept it or that I’ve no duty, however in right this moment’s recreation we must always have gotten extra from our gamers.”
Koeman’s techniques in opposition to Benfica, nonetheless, had been additionally questionable. Instead of changing Gerard Pique with one other defender when he picked up an early yellow card, Koeman shifted Frenkie de Jong into his backline. Barcelona suffered much more making an attempt to arrange its forwards with out De Jong in a inventive position.
When requested if he thought the staff wanted a brand new supervisor, De Jong responded with a curt “No.”
“You can solely get out of this example in the event you keep united and work collectively,” the Netherlands midfielder stated.
Atlético was having its personal troubles earlier than Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suárez — each former Barcelona gamers the membership couldn’t afford to pay — scored late to combat again 2-1 at AC Milan on Tuesday.
The match at Wanda Metropolitano will come earlier than a weeklong worldwide break, providing Barcelona a window to make a training change if desired.
Former midfielder Xavi Hernández has lengthy been tagged as a future Barcelona coach, whereas Spanish media speculates that Belgium supervisor Roberto Martínez and former Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo may very well be within the working.
Laporta stated throughout his presentation this summer time that sports activities director Jordi Cruyff is also used as a “wild card in an emergency.”
Beyond the staff’s speedy struggles, Barcelona was dealt a more durable long-term blow by the Spanish league hours earlier than it misplaced at Benfica.
Barcelona’s new wage cap has been slashed to 97 million euros ($113 million), about 285 million euros ($334 million) lower than a yr in the past and 7 occasions smaller than that of Real Madrid, attributable to losses it incurred by the poor administration of Laporta’s predecessors and the financial impression of the pandemic.
So Koeman or not, the glory days of Barcelona gained’t probably be coming again quickly.