Barcelona: Ronald Koeman’s legacy at the Camp Nou

Barcelona (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Barcelona (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images) /

Ronald Koeman was relieved of his duties on 28th October 2021 after 14 months in charge. The axe came after a 1-0 defeat against the newly-promoted side, Rayo Vallecano. Koeman was brought in by Barcelona to replace Quique Setien after the latter was sacked following a humiliating 8-2 defeat against Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League.

Many fans were skeptical that the then Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman, who played for the Catalan giants between 1989 and 1995 was the ideal choice to replace Setien at the Camp Nou. Koeman’s main task was to steady the ship after a topsy-turvy season that saw Ernesto Valverde sacked in the January of 2020 and then Setien in August 2020.

The club lost the La Liga crown to a Zinedine Zidane led Real Madrid side by 5 points, were knocked out by Athletic Bilbao in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey, lost against Atletico Madrid in the semi-final of the Supercopa de Espana and suffered humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League. Lionel Messi wanted to leave the club after such a disastrous season.

All this meant that Koeman already had a huge task at hand when he arrived at the Catalan club. Barcelona started off the 2020-21 campaign strongly under Koeman’s stewardship, the club sat on the top of the table till late October but inconsistent performances saw them slipping out of the title race. In February, Koeman shifted to a 3 at the back formation which saw an upturn in results, the Catalan club dropped just 6 points between December and April.

Was Ronald Koeman the wrong man for Barcelona?

Barcelona were eliminated by Paris Saint-Germain in the Round of 16 of the Champions League but they reached the final of the Supercopa de Espana, narrowly losing to Athletic Bilbao, 3-2 after extra time but then comprehensively defeated them, 4-0, to win the Copa del Rey and the Catalan side were in the title race till Gameweek 35, with Atletico Madrid sitting at top of the table with 77 points, Real Madrid at 2nd with 75 points and Barcelona at 3rd with 75 points but a inferior head-to-head goal difference, but a 3-3 draw with Levante and a 1-2 defeat at home against Celta de Vigo ended Barca’s chance of winning the La Liga in Koeman’s first year at the helm and saw them eventually finish 3rd in La Liga. (stats via WhoScored)

Koeman also blooded the next generation of Barca stars with the likes of Gavi, Nico Gonzalez, Pedri, Ronald Araujo and Oscar Mingueza all becoming regulars under his tutelage. Although the end was ugly but Koeman’s time at the Catalan club will no doubt come to be remembered in more positive terms in the future. Koeman left the club with a record of 40 wins, 11 draws and 16 losses in his 67 games as manager.

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