Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman did not appear too happy to field questions about his future at the club ahead of Saturday’s Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao.
The Dutchman was asked at Friday’s pre-match press conference if defeat to Athletic could affect his job at the Camp Nou and said he was surprised to hear his future was up for discussion.
“It’s a little bit strange that I have to answer questions about this because we had a run of 19 games without losing. We lost one match and I have to talk about my future?” he said. “Maybe I have to accept this but I don’t agree. I have one year left on my contract. I know before the game what will happen if we win and what will happen if we don’t. I took this job and I know there is big pressure. I can handle that but sometimes it’s a bit strange.”
Koeman also insisted he does not need further backing from president Joan Laporta and is well aware that he needs to win titles at Barcelona.
“I do not need a public ratification from Laporta. He has shown confidence in me. Everytime there is something in the press, he does not have to come out and clarify,” he explained. “I’m the first to know where I am, a club great like Barça. You have to win.”
Victory against Athletic on Saturday would give Koeman his first trophy as Barcelona coach. The Dutchman has won the Copa del Rey previously as Valencia manager in 2008 and as a player with Barcelona back in 1990.
Follow the Heavy on Barcelona Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Koeman Confirms Pique Will Return
Koeman also discussed his team selection during the news conference and confirmed that center-back Gerard Pique is fit and available. The defender has not featured since suffering a knee injury in the semi-final win over Sevilla at the start of March.
“Pique was called up last week, but it was too soon against Madrid because he had had only three, four sessions then,” he said. “He is much better now, trained a lot this week and he can play tomorrow, yes.”
The Barca boss was also asked for his thoughts on his formation. The Dutch coach started with a 3-5-2 formation in Saturday’s Clasico defeat to Real Madrid but switched to 4-3-3 at half-time which brought an improved performance.
“The system is always the same. It can be with three defenders, or with four, but the idea is always to dominate the game, find players between the lines and try to create opportunities from the wings,” he explained, “When we lose the ball, that’s where we need to be very good.”
Koeman Hoping For ‘Beautiful’ Title
Saturday’s match sees Barcelona take on Athletic for the fourth time this season in all competitions. The Catalans have won both La Liga fixtures but were beaten by Marcelino’s men in the final of the Spanish Super Cup.
Koeman says his team have improved since that defeat and pointed to the team’s recent 19-match unbeaten run as evidence.
“It’s very important to win a title, it’s something really quite beautiful. In January when we played the final of the Super Cup the situation was a lot worse. We’ve improved a lot since then. We went 19 games without a loss,” he said. “We lost an important match last week but I never think about my future, win or lose a game. The most important thing is to invest my energy in the team in the best way possible in order to win a title.”
There’s no doubt that a win for Barcelona on Saturday would offer the team a big boost and offer Koeman more job security. The Dutchman has Laporta’s backing for now but another trophyless season could change the president’s thinking for the future.