Ronald Koeman was an eccentric choice by Barcelona at perhaps the most chaotic juncture of their recent history: how’s he doing so far?
The first few months of Ronald Koeman’s tenure as Barcelona manager have not been the rolling horror show they could have been.
There have been a couple of defeats, most disappointingly to Real Madrid this weekend just gone, but also a couple of wins, some decent performances and the continued excellence of Ansu Fati.
But it’s not been amazing either. Now – just after that Clasico loss and ahead of their big Champions League clash with Juventus – feels like a decent time to assess Koeman’s first couple of months in charge.
So on the European edition of The Totally Football Show, we asked Alvaro Romeo exactly that.
“Koeman was hired for a number of things, and he’s done some of them: for example he’s fighting the endemic stagnation that Barcelona had for a few years, he changed the system, he’s giving a chance to the youngsters.
“He wanted a striker that he never got – he wanted Memphis Depay, but he wasn’t given that.”
This is where the ‘…but’ comes.
“The defeat [to Real] has to be on Koeman a bit: you have to wonder why the team didn’t have any tools, psychologically or football-related to overcome Sergio Ramos’s goal, because after that Barca were knocked out for about 20 minutes. Why did the substitutions come so late, and all together?
“The team is broken into two ‘tectonic plates’. The midfield is non-existent: you’ve got the defence, you’ve got the forward line but there’s nothing gelling them [together].
“He’s been there for two months and it’s time to ask Koeman for explanations as to why he hasn’t been able to address those problems.
“Miralem Pjanic can be an answer for that: maybe if he plays instead of Coutinho or Pedri, he can provide more experience for the midfield.”
Koeman perhaps hasn’t been helped by a number of things: Gerard Pique coating off the club’s board in public, that board being in the middle of a no-confidence vote that they’re trying to sidestep like a jogger avoiding dog dirt, but also Leo Messi
In addition to very emphatically trying to bust his way out of the club this summer, the great man’s form – by his insane standards, at least – hasn’t been great. The Real game represented the sixth Clasico in a row in which he hasn’t scored or provided an assist.
Alvaro expanded on that: “If you look at his numbers since the restart, they’re not very good. He has scored goals but mainly from set-pieces.
“He was very good for 50-60 minutes – maybe not as good as his best ever performances, but he was very energetic, did a few good dribbles – one of them on Sergio Ramos that Thibaut Courtois managed to save.
“You also have to start thinking that ‘Messi narrative’ – that he will win games for Barcelona – is gone. He needs his teammates more than ever – the more he can trust the likes of Ansu Fati, Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann, the better.
“Fati is one of those players that Messi finds really refreshing, and he needs more teammates around him that help him more.”
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