I will make a small reservation at the beginning of the text. Ronald Koeman I’m kind of sympathetic in some way. Yes, this is not a tactical genius. Yes, his style is in principle contrary to Barcelona’s canons. But it is worth recalling that by the time of leaving Kike Setiena the club was at the bottom. The provincial tactician could not give the players anything, at the decisive moment they lacked not only ideas, skill, leadership, but even even a banal organization to avoid shame. Barcelona needed not just another provincial tactician, but first of all, authority.
Koeman is definitely not the most reputable coach (he is unlikely to make it into the top 50), but he is not the last person in Barcelona’s history. And he is not one of those who will be afraid to say something unpleasant to a star and a living legend. All of this was necessary for the club – to spend the worst part of the generational change. The stage when the legends and leaders leave (and the fans curse the coach), and new faces appear in the squad, who at first inevitably make mistakes.
Kuman can be reproached for being thick-skinned, but also thanks to thick-skinned, he did this job. He went through an idiotic departure Suarez: Barcelona did not pull his salary, the separation was a necessity, but of all the possible options, the club let him go to Atlético. An idiotic mistake. He survived the no-retirement scandal Messiwhen Messi entered into a confrontation with the president and wanted to leave, but could not. And there was also a presidential election, which he won Joan Laporta, the candidate who promised to sweep away the entire legacy Josepa Bartomeu – if this word is generally applicable to the activities of Bartomeu. And, finally, Messi left, although the same Laporta promised that he would not allow this. Messi left at the last moment, when there was virtually no time left for a replacement. Griezmann generally left on the last day of the window.
Not a weak set of cataclysms, isn’t it? Some coaches do not have this in their entire careers, but here it only takes one year.
The year turned out to be so-so, but Koeman won the Spanish Cup, and most importantly, he significantly renewed the team. Minges, Araujo in defense, Pedri and Dest in midfield, four new main players, although their total cost is less than one Malcolm… It was under Kuman that Griezmann spent a normal (not disastrous) season, who scored 20 productive actions in 32 matches from the first minutes last season. Not his best season, but much better than the previous one.
Messi performed the masterpiece (with the help of de Jong). Kuman took the trophy
In general, Koeman did what he had to do: amid endless scandals and upheavals, he laid the foundation for a new team. This work is worthy of respect. But it is complete. This is the first part of the generational change. What’s next?
Next is construction. Barcelona have a young squad, but many talents are traumatic, they just cannot be brought together to find the perfect combination. And this is just one of the difficulties. The second is simply the fact that this is Barcelona – that is, a team with a special history and special demands from the fans.
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In Catalonia, the club has become a natural extension of the local identity. Traditions that have been laid down yet Johan Cruyff, and at the beginning of the century powerfully continued Pep Guardiolaare holy. Here, more likely, they will take the fourth or fifth place from the coach, who puts on orthodox football, than the second or third from the coach, who will sacrifice the style. This is probably why everyone is waiting so much Xavi… Not because of the trophies he won in Qatar, but because Xavi is an ambassador and one of the symbols of this style.
This does not suit Kuman. He is definitely not a master of dominant football, because he has never put it in his career. Perhaps he could have made some progress in more favorable circumstances, but due to the constant absence of Fati and Dembele it cannot be verified.
He can build pressure, he can use strengths Frenkie de jonga and Pedri, can put Arauho as a basis, but one cannot expect a master class on tiki-take from him. In itself, this is not a reason for separation. Even last season, Barcelona had more than 62% possession and played pass with 90% accuracy, and took the last, 20th place in terms of the number of crosses per match. Everything is within the canon. True, it was sometimes difficult to look at it.
Now the situation has worsened. Barcelona beat Real Sociedad in style, but they have big problems with teams that like to play contact and impose a fight across the field. Athletic, Getafe and Granada are teams of different levels, but related in style. And if “Athletic” has not lost yet, then “Getafe” and “Granada” have never been able to win since the beginning of the championship – that is, they are obviously feasible rivals. Barcelona lost points twice in matches with these three teams.
Bad moment on the calendar? Yes, absolutely. But there are more and more such teams in Spain every season. If you lose points with each one, there will be big problems.
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Against the backdrop of poor results, fans’ sensitivity to style is exacerbated. And in the match with Granada, Koeman released Pique into the center of the attack and moved to the awnings. And, by the way, it brought results: the goal was scored by the central defender Araujo after a pass. After the match, Koeman rightly said that Granada did not leave any space at all, while Barcelona had no one to play one-on-one in a limited space due to injuries, so the transfer of tall central defenders to attack and playing in canopies is a logical decision …
Formally, he is right. Moreover, Araujo scored from the serve Gavi, A 17-year-old midfielder. Yes, trauma is to blame, but the update is in full swing.
But the fans find it difficult to enjoy a home draw with Granada. And it is all the more difficult to rejoice in a match in which Barcelona made 54 crossings. 54. This is the second result of the team for all the time that such statistics are being conducted. This is twice Liverpool’s average match norm. Even Burnley, an old-school British team that remains true to the hit-and-run tradition, serves half as much.
Moreover, during the post-match press conference, there was one episode that went viral in a few hours, and drowned Koeman’s position even more. Commenting on the choice of tactics for the match, Koeman said: “It’s easy for me to explain why we played like that. Have you seen our application? We do not have players who can beat one on one, Granada did not leave any space. How were we supposed to play tiki-taki? In tiki? We played as best we could and showed character. “
Koeman is one of Barcelona’s legends, but does not know the name of the corporate identity associated with his team. Instead of “tiki-taka” he said twice “Tiki-taki”.
Listen, tiki-take can be treated in many ways. For example, Guardiola once said that he hates passing for the sake of passing. But one cannot argue with the fact that the word tiki-taka is associated with Barcelona. And vice versa. Even if it’s a myth, it doesn’t matter, myths also shape reality. Coaching Barcelona and saying tiki-taki is like being the mayor of Paris and talking about the Eiffel Tower. They won’t understand.
Kuman was not understood. In the comments, they laugh at him, ask how long Shakira and Selena Gomez have been playing for Barcelona, call him the author of a new unique game system, and also resent how low Cruyff’s club has fallen.
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In this situation, the coach who deals with the daily routine (which is the most difficult at Barcelona now) can only sympathize with. But this is also a very important sign. Koeman did not fail at Barcelona. But he has already given the club what he could: firmness and stubbornness in a crisis moment. And now the moment has changed. His character is no longer as important as other qualities, purely coaching, and they are just less in line with expectations.
Barcelona, having survived the last year, it is time to become themselves again. This is what Koeman cannot give her. This is a dead end, not because he is a bad coach, but because the ideological differences between him and the club will be perceived more and more sharply every month. And at the same time, he cannot give such a result that will make everyone forget about the style.
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It rarely happens when the situation in the club itself gives such a good wording for the description. But this is exactly the case: Koeman and Barcelona speak different languages.