Tonight Ronald Koeman will make his official debut at Camp Nou as trainer of FC Barcelona. The Catalans start the Spanish competition at 21:00 with a home match against Villarreal. Koemans dream job really starts, but the coach is not sitting in a velvet seat.
The stories about the unrest in Barcelona are now well known. At the press conference on Saturday, Koeman said not to be surprised by it. “All Barcelona trainers will tell you that they never had a quiet day. If you want to change things here, there are always supporters and opponents. Thats part of it when you work at the best club in the world.”
Its been 25 years since Koeman said goodbye to Camp Nou as a player. In 1989, the defender from PSV was greeted with some skepticism in Barcelona, and six years later he received a standing ovation in his last home game. Koeman had become a hero, partly due to his rake free kick in the Europa Cup I final against Sampdoria.
“ Koeman, this is your place forever”, it was written on June 10, 1995 on a Dutch banner in Camp Nou. A big party was not the duel with Albacete. Koeman delivered one of his characteristic cannonballs (the goalkeeper brought rescue), but Barcelona lost by 1-0.
Barcelona ended that season disappointing fourth and with Koemans departure the end of the Dream Team of trainer Johan Cruijff was also inaugurated.
“ I have had six fantastic years, but it has been beautiful,” Koeman said at the time after the game. What would he think of most in the future? “Particularly to the love that the people have given me here. Ill never forget that one.”
The love for Koeman is still there in Barcelona. And within the lines, his honeymoon weeks continued well. Barcelona played three practice matches and won them all. But out there, it was all trammelant.
For example, there are all kinds of transfer requests – Memphis Depay, Georginio Wijnaldum and Sergiño Dest, to name a few names – but there is no money yet. “We are always looking for players to improve us. Players may not be possible because of the clubs financial situation, but I knew that and I accept,” Koeman said about that.
There was the soap opera around Lionel Messi, who wanted to leave, but with fresh reluctantly finally stayed. And there was Luis Suárezs forced departure, after which Messi handed out another sneer via Instagram: “You didnt deserve to be thrown out like this. But honestly, nothing surprises me here anymore.”
Bad guy in the movie
Koeman responded on Saturday: “I feel like Im the bad guy in this movie, but its not like that. After my phone call with Suárez, I have shown great respect. I said that he would have little playing time if he stayed, but that he would be part of the selection. It wasnt just my decision, it was a decision of the club.”
For the sulking Messi, Koeman showed understanding: “It is logical that he is sad after his friend, with whom he has been playing for years, has left the club. But Leo has been an example for everyone at the training and in the competitions. I dont doubt him at all.”
No matter how hot the minds are in Barcelona, the reactions to Koemans showed not so crazy statements about midfielder Riqui Puig. According to Koeman, the 21 year old talent could be rented out, because at his age it is important to make many playing minutes.
Critics crossed over each other over this alleged waste of Barça talent. “There is a lot of competition in his position and young players have to play matches,” Koeman responded. “If he stays, hell have a chance to show it.” At least Puigs just in the selection for tonight.
A little quieter
“ I hope it calms down a bit,” Koeman sighted during the press conference. Winning competitions is the best remedy for that, starting tonight against Villarreal.
Then it continues in fast speed: on Thursday Celta de Vigo is already waiting, next weekend Sevilla and after the interlandbreak the squatter against Getafe and the Clásico against Real Madrid follow, not to mention the start of the Champions League – in a months time.