Barcelona manager fires Ronald Koeman and takes a look at Xavi

Ronald Koeman knew even before his arrival at Barcelona that his journey as manager of the club was over. His team had just lost for th...


Ronald Koeman knew even before his arrival at Barcelona that his journey as manager of the club was over. His team had just lost for the second time in four days, beaten by Real Madrid on Sunday and then by the modest Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday. He failed in ninth place in La Liga. There could be, the club decided, no way back.

The decision to fire Koeman came while he and his players were still in transit. Barcelona president Joan Laporta had spent the return flight from Madrid consulting with several leaders, according to Sport, the Catalan newspaper, then informed Koeman he had decided to end his 14-month term. A statement from Barcelona formalized the decision shortly after midnight.

Despite all the urgency of the past few hours, Koeman’s disappearance has been anything but quick. He led Barcelona to a disappointing – but barely catastrophic – third place in his first and only full campaign at the club, the season somewhat saved by a Copa del Rey victory.

Summer, however, has brought a drastic change. Koeman had to manage the brutal departure of Lionel Messi – a seismic change for which he was not even warned, let alone armed – and then try to put together a squad to regain the Spanish title and play in the Champions League, while operating under considerable financial constraints.

Despite the rise of a handful of talented young people, including midfielders Gavi and Pedri, and the return to form of another striker Ansu Fati, Koeman had struggled to forge a cohesive unit. His summer rookies had done little to improve the fortunes of the squad: Memphis Depay had faltered from time to time, but Eric Garcia and Luuk De Jong had struggled to make a positive impact.

At the end of September, the club had already lost ground in the race for the Spanish title, and had been twice embarrassed in the Champions League: beaten first by Bayern Munich, 3-0, then by Benfica. He remains hopeful of qualifying for the round of 16 in the spring after an unconvincing victory over Dynamo Kyiv last week.

This victory appeared to have granted Koeman a stay of execution, but it turned out, on the contrary, to be a false dawn. Real Madrid beat Barcelona 2-1 on Sunday for their fourth consecutive Clásico triumph. Afterwards, dozens of angry fans surrounded Koeman’s car as he and his wife tried to leave Camp Nou after the game.

And then on Wednesday, a single goal from veteran striker Radamel Falcao doomed Barcelona to defeat to Rayo, a modest and impoverished club on the outskirts of the Spanish capital. Whatever goodwill there was towards Koeman – an iconic former Barcelona player, a goalscorer for the goal which brought the team their very first Champions League title – evaporated, both inside and outside the club.

Koeman was due to visit Barcelona training center in Sant Joan Despí on Thursday to say goodbye to his players; At this point, the club hope to have identified or perhaps even named their successor. For now, the post will go to another former Barcelona player, Sergi Barjuán, who was installed as Thursday the interim manager of the club. Sergi had recently been the coach of Barcelona B team.

Although Marcelo Gallardo, Argentina team coach River Plate, and Real Sociedad manager Imanol Alguacil both have some support as potential permanent replacements, Laporta is expected to see another ex-Barcelona player, Xavi. Hernández, as a standout candidate.

Xavi’s managerial experience remains moderate – he has spent the last three seasons at Al Sadd, the Qatari team where he ended his playing career, and has enjoyed some success – but his popular appeal is unmatched.

He was not only part of the great Barcelona team that won three Champions League trophies in the span of six years under Pep Guardiola and then Luis Enrique, but became the pinnacle of philosophy and style of play. that have marked the club for decades. For Laporta, restoring it to its spiritual home would be a way of connecting Barcelona’s present to its recent glorious past.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Barcelona manager fires Ronald Koeman and takes a look at Xavi
Barcelona manager fires Ronald Koeman and takes a look at Xavi
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