It’s safe to say that Ronald Koeman isn’t a happy bunny these days.
The Dutchman is on the brink of losing his job after a miserable start to the season and, in the build-up to Thursday’s meeting with Cadiz, tensions began to boil over in the media.
After watching his side put in 54 crosses and snatch a draw against Granada, Koeman defended his tactics by questioning how anyone could expect his current squad to match the heights of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona team of eight years ago.
During the goalless draw with Cadiz, we saw exactly what Koeman was complaining about.
This Barcelona squad just isn’t that good. They’re decent, but asking them to mirror perhaps the best club side we’ve ever seen is just ridiculous, and Koeman is justifiably growing tired of being challenged on that.
They’re decent defensively, but it’s going forward where Barcelona find all their problems.
Sergino Dest is a young full-back being asked to copy Dani Alves, one of the greatest ever. Sergio Busquets is an ageing midfielder who is now physically unable of making the forward runs that he has always been scared of making. Frenkie de Jong and young Gavi are not Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
In attack, teenager Yusuf Demir had a rough outing, but the experienced Philippe Coutinho did not do much better in his place, and let’s not even talk about the walking anchor that is Luuk de Jong, the least tiki-taka suitable striker the game has ever seen.
It’s all just so slow. Nobody was moving the ball quickly and there was absolutely nobody on the pitch capable of taking the game by the scruff of the neck to make something happen. There were no risk-takers.
Koeman wants them to pass the ball quickly. He put faith in playmaker Gavi, introduced Sergi Roberto for a much-needed injection of energy and brought on both Nico and Riqui Puig because he wasn’t happy with his midfield. He knows things need to change, but how can he do anything with this poor squad and the cripplingly high standards?
For what it’s worth, Koeman is not blameless in this mess. After all, he decided to start De Jong instead of sticking with Memphis Depay in a central role. The Dutch striker slowed everything down far too much, and to make matters worse, Koeman didn’t even notice until after Frenkie de Jong was sent off midway through the second half. It’s possible he didn’t even realise and just got lucky with his substitution.
He’s got his problems, but Koeman is not the sole root of Barcelona’s struggles. There aren’t many managers on the planet who could do much better at a club who seem determined to live in the past and ignore the present.
It’s almost as if years of poor transfers, financial mismanagement and foolish decision-making is actually a bad thing. Who’d have guessed?
Barcelona absolutely need a change in the dugout. Koeman is not doing anything positive there anymore, but anyone who thinks a new manager can come in and make life rosy again needs to think twice.