What Can Barcelona Expect from New Coach Ronald Koeman?

Ronald Koeman


Ronald Koeman has been confirmed as Barcelona’s new coach on a contract that runs until June 2022.

The 57-year-old has left his job with the Netherlands national team to return to the club where he won countless trophies, including the European Cup, as a player.

Koeman famously scored the winner in the 1992 European Cup final to cement his place in the club’s history.

Koeman replaces Quique Setien in the hot seat in time for the 2020-21 season. Setien departed after just seven months at Barca which should serve as a reminder to Koeman that patience is not usually in short supply at the Camp Nou.

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Koeman’s Managerial Record

The Dutchman arrives with plenty of managerial experience. He has won the Eredivisie with Ajax and PSV, and the Portuguese Super Cup with Benfica. Koeman also enjoyed an impressive spell in England with Southampton, guiding the Saints to their highest-ever Premier League finish of sixth place in 2016 and qualification for the Europa League.

Yet it hasn’t all been plain sailing for Koeman the manager. He moved on to Everton and endured a mixed time at Goodison Park, as pointed out by journalist Matt Jones.

Koeman has also managed in La Liga previously with Valencia. The Dutchman did win the Copa del Rey but was sacked after just six months with the team only two points off the relegation zone.

Most recently Koeman has taken charge of the Netherlands national team and managed to revive the team’s fortunes after they failed to qualify for Euro 2016 or the 2018 World Cup. The Oranje finished runners-up in the inaugural Nations League in 2019 and qualified for the 2020 European Championship.

Koeman’s Plan for Barcelona

Koeman already has a plan in place for Barcelona, according to Joan Domènech and Marcos López at El Periodico. The new coach is willing to let veterans such as Luis Suárez, Samuel Umtiti, Arturo Vidal, and Ivan Rakitic leave and could also sanction the exits of Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba too.

Meanwhile, midfielder Frenkie de Jong is likely to play a more “influential role” for the club. The duo have worked together at international level which led Koeman to question Barcelona’s use of the midfielder earlier this season in an interview with Marca’s Lorena Gonzalez.

“The position he is playing now is different to the national team and Ajax. He’s learning to play further forward like this, it’s not all bad, but it’s not his best position. For me, I think he performs better playing deeper.”

Koeman also spoke to Toni Frieros at Sport back in April about the “defects” he sees in the current Barcelona team.

“I see two. One, intensity. Like it or not, today the top teams play at a very intense rhythm for the 90 minutes. Barca find it hard to maintain that. We saw it in the famous Liverpool game, but in the Spanish Super Cup against Atletico this year. Barca were superior for 80 minutes, they disconnected the last 10 and Atletico, fresher and more intense, won.

“[And] They don’t dominate games like in previous years. In that aspect Barca have to get their identity back, that’s part of their DNA> they’ve always had control, but a more effective control.”

The new coach certainly has his work cut out at Barcelona. He needs to rejuvenate an aging squad at a time when finances are an issue due to Covid-19 and presidential elections are due to take place early next year.

Koeman also has a problem with captain Lionel Messi currently “angry” with the club and contemplating his future. All of which means the Dutchman’s managerial capabilities look set to be tested to the full during his time back at Barcelona.

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