Ronald Koeman the current Barcelona manager won the Copa del Rey during his first full season in charge. However, Barca lost out to Atletico Madrid in the Laliga title race and was beaten by PSG in the Round of 16 in the Champions League. Following Barcelona’s disappointing end to last year’s campaign. Then disappointing start to this current campaign, the 3nill home defeat by the hands of Bayern Munich and numerous debatable decisions made by coach Ronald Koeman raised questions about his future. There are numerous questions raised about the continuity of the Dutchman at Barca. This has become the hot topic in Barcelona; the press and among the fans.
REASONS FOR SACKING KOEMAN
Many fans and experts want Koeman to be sacked by Barcelona. His tactics and some decisions are a huge disappointment to a majority of people. Barcelona board members are not convinced with him. His strange decisions, inactiveness during in-match situations, and his lack of tactical understanding of the game seem to be the main reasons for him falling apart with club management and the fans. They want the manager sacked soon as possible especially after the Catalan side was outplayed in the Champions League by Bayern Munich.
Another reason for everyone turning against Koeman is his strange attitude towards Riqui Puig and also towards Miralem Pjanic. (till he was here) There has been a question from the fans and the people from inside the club. No one understood Koeman’s decision not to give the chances to these 2 players. Both Riqui and Pjanic did everything to convince Koeman but it wasn’t enough. After Pjanic’s loan move to Besiktas, the midfielder said-” Koeman disrespected me. He was never talking to me!” Pjanic was frustrated with his lack of playtime at Barcelona. It seems like many insides as well as outside the club want Koeman to be sacked. However, Joan Laporta is reportedly yet to come to a decision regarding the Barcelona manager’s future as they will have to pay over £12 million to sack him.
Koeman Point of view
Ronald Koeman has admitted his team is not on par with Bayern Munich and is thus proud of the way his players played in the 3-0 defeat. The Dutchman claims they need to be realistic about the situation and said: -“You have to be realistic in life. Our young players showed we have a future and we have a lot of players to come back from injuries. It is what it is. We know we’re missing a lot of players in attack and we have to wait a few weeks to have more options and more speed going forward”.
To Koeman’s defense, he says this team has many young players and they will need time to develop. Everyone needs to be patient and can’t expect miracles. According to Koeman young players like Pedri, Araujo, Mingueza, Dest, Balde, Gavi, Nico have shined under him and have shown that this team got a very bright future ahead. Koeman has asked everyone to judge him and his work once all the injured players come back on to the pitch; the likes of Fati, Aguero, Dembele, etc.
POSSIBLE REPLACEMENTS FOR RONALD KOEMAN
If Barcelona sack Koeman, they have to seek a better replacement for the manager position and President Joan Laporta wants a manager with long term option and not a temporary solution or just for emergency purposes. Many options have been raised such as Xavi, Conte, Bielsa Joachim Low, etc in the past week. Here we look at Top 5 possible candidates to take Koeman’s place if he gets fired.
Xavier Hernandez known as Xavi is a Spanish professional football manager and former Barcelona player who is the manager of Qatar Stars League club Al Sadd. Widely considered one of the best midfielders of all time, Xavi is renowned for his passing, Tiki Taka’s gameplay and quality attacking tactics with a lot of ball possession which makes him an ideal contestant for the Barca managerial position. He is among the front runners according to many reports. On 28 May 2019, it was announced that Xavi would take over as manager of Al-Sadd on a two-year contract. Xavi helped the club reach the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League, where they were eliminated by Al-Hilal FC 6–5 on aggregate. In the league, the club finished third. In 2019/2020, Xavi led his team to win three domestic tournaments.
Xavi knows the club in and out, he knows the values and philosophy, and principles of Barcelona. He epitomizes the Barca DNA all over, he understands Barcelona’s ways of doing things. These factors make him the front runner for Barcelona’s managerial job. Another factor that falls in his favor is his very good relations with President Laporta. The only thing which goes against him is his lack of European-level management experience.
Our (BTM) Verdict – Most Likely to come
2. ANTONIO CONTE
Antonio Conte is an Italian professional manager and player. He was one of the influential players for Juventus. He won the UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE and five Seria- Titles. His managerial career started in 2006, leading Bari to a Serie B title, and Siena to promotion from the same division two years later. He took over at Juventus in 2011 and won three consecutive Serie A titles. He then took charge of the Italian national team in 2014 until UEFA Euro 2016. Conte then became Chelsea’s manager and led them to the Premier League title in his first season in charge, later winning the FA Cup in his second season with the team. He was dismissed as Chelsea manager in 2018 and joined Inter Milan a year later, winning the Serie A title in his second and final season.
With Conte, you will get someone who is in face of everyone. He likes his teams to be defensively strong and disciplined. Conte is credited with the popularization of a 3–5–2 formation. With him, you get an immense experience of coaching and playing in the big league and most important the winning mentality. The only downside to him is the debacle run in the Champions League. Conte has failed miserably when it comes to CL performance. Looking at the current situation at Barcelona he is an ideal candidate to get the club out of this mess.
Our (BTM) Verdict – 50/50 chances of coming
3. ERIK TEN HAAG
Erik ten Hag is a Dutch professional football manager and former player. He is currently the manager at Ajax. On 21 December 2017, he was appointed as the head coach of Ajax after the club dismissed Marcel Keizer. In 2019, he led his Ajax team on a dream run-up to the semi-finals of the 2018–19 UEFA Champions League. This was Ajax’s first time since 1997. On the way, they defeated the then Champions Real Madrid 4–1 at the round of 16 stages and also beating Juventus away 1–2 having drawn the first leg 1–1 at home in the quarterfinals.
They fell short unfortunately at the semi-final against Spurs. He won his first managerial trophy with Ajax on 5 May 2019, the 2018–19 KNVB Cup, beating Willem II in the final. Only 10 days after winning the cup, Ajax, led by Ten Hag won the Eredivisie as well after a 1–4 away victory over De Graafschap and brought the double back to the club.
Ten Hag epitomizes the elite mentality and tactical proficiency. Ten Hag’s footballing principles are entirely predicated on the Cruyffian attacking brand of football. The Dutchman would be familiar with certain squad members, having already worked with Frenkie De Jong. The 51-year-old has shown an unwavering trust in the youth. It would certainly epitomize this principle with the vast amount of young talent present at Barcelona as opposed to relying on aging members of the squad.
Ten Hag is incredibly suited for the environment at the Catalan club. He adopted an aging squad at Ajax. He was there during a transitional period when he took over in 2017 and revolutionized the squad through his faith in the academy products. Barcelona more than ever requires a manager who can face adversity and make bold decisions that prioritize the future of the club. The Dutchman is perfect for the club considering its identity and his brand of football. But the question is will he leave his project at Ajax incomplete, in the middle of the season. To come to join Barca in their current mess which they are in.
Our (BTM) Verdict – The Ideal One
4. ROBERTO MARTINEZ
Roberto Martínez is a Spanish football coach and former professional player. Martínez is the manager of the Belgium national team. Roberto started his managerial life at Swansea followed by Everton and finally on 3 August 2016, Martínez signed as coach of the Belgium national team, succeeding Marc Wilmots In his first match in charge on 1 September 2016, Belgium was defeated 2–0 by his birth country Spain in Brussels.
Martinez’s Belgians were the first European side to advance from qualifying into the 2018 FIFA World Cup after their 2–1 win over Greece. During the group stage, his team won all group games and in the round of 16, came from two goals down to beat Japan 3–2. In the quarter-finals, Belgium defeated Brazil 2–1 to set up a semi-final against neighbors.
Martinez has close links inside the club. The Sporting Director Jordi Cruyff wants Martinez as the coach of Barcelona. He is an experienced coach as he managed many top clubs in Europe. Roberto knows how to get the best out of existing especially the aging players. He is tactical setup is based on a strong defensive setup. His teams are very disciplined and hardworking. The only thing which goes against him is his team’s lack of big-game mentality. Another thing here to consider is the current managing Belgium national team and will he leave them so close to World Cup.
Our (BTM) Verdict – Most Likely to come
Andrea Pirlo is an Italian professional footballer. The former player turned coach was most recently the head coach of Serie A club Juventus. Considered one of the greatest deep-lying playmakers ever. Pirlo was considered to be an ideal manager for Juventus but ended up getting sacked due to poor performance in the Seria-A and Champions League. Pirlo Juventus defeated this Barcelona side in the UCL last season by 3-0. He could be an option for Barcelona. But his recent disaster at Old Lady and his lack of managerial experience could go against him.
Our (BTM) Verdict – Most Unlikely to come
Ronald Koeman’s future will be clear in the coming days and it’ll also depend on the results of the upcoming matches against Cadiz and Levante. Who will be the ideal manager for Barca only time will tell us all?
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Ashutosh Welankar Law graduate by degree. Football lover and blogger by passion.