Barcelona sack coach Koeman after poor start to season

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Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman returns to the tunnel at half-time during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Rayo Vallecano and FC Barcelona at Vallecas stadium in Madrid, Spain on Wednesday October 27 2021. (AP Photo / Manu Fernandez)

PA

After another poor performance and yet another loss, Ronald Koeman couldn’t hang on any longer as Barcelona coach.

It took less than three months after Lionel Messi left for Koeman to finally succumb as the pressure kept mounting and the Catalan club’s struggles continued.

Barcelona announced Koeman’s sacking shortly after the team’s 1-0 loss to Rayo Vallecano in the Spanish league on Wednesday.

The loss follows a 2-1 home loss to Real Madrid in the “clásico” at the Camp Nou stadium on Sunday.

Koeman had said in a post-game interview on Wednesday that he was unsure if his future with the club was in danger. He quickly discovered it. Club president Joan Laporta informed the Dutch coach of his decision after the loss.

Captain Sergio Busquets had said Koeman shouldn’t be the one to blame for the team’s poor performance.

“We’re all on the same boat,” the midfielder said after the game, before the decision on Koeman was announced.

Koeman has come under constant pressure after a poor start to the team’s first season without Messi in nearly two decades. The Argentine star joined Paris Saint-Germain in August.

Barcelona have said Koeman “will say goodbye to the team on Thursday”.

Koeman leaves with the club in ninth place in the Spanish league table with 15 points from 10 matches.

Among the team’s five losses this season have been 3-0 Champions League results against Bayern Munich at home and at Benfica.

The loss to Rayo marked the team’s fifth away game without a win, something that hadn’t happened at the club in almost two decades.

Barcelona have won five matches and drawn three this season under the leadership of the Dutch coach who took over shortly after the team’s embarrassing 8-2 loss to Bayern in the Champions League of the Year last. His only title with the Catalan club was last season’s Copa del Rey.

In total, Koeman has coached Barcelona in 67 appearances in his 15 months at the helm, with 39 wins, 16 losses and 12 draws.

Barcelona last season finished third in the Spanish league and were knocked out by PSG in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Koeman had publicly disagreed with Laporta, although the club have recently expressed support for the coach, including after being harassed by a small group of fans outside the stadium after the home loss to Madrid at the weekend -end last.

Koeman had also upset some of his players after saying Barcelona would not realistically compete against each other this season as they continue to face serious financial difficulties.

The club also lost Antoine Griezmann to Atlético Madrid and relied mostly on hastily promoted youngsters in their youth squads.

The coach has reportedly agreed to let striker Luis Suárez leave after his arrival in a bid to help the team financially. Suárez went on to help Atlético win the league title last season.

A replacement for Koeman was not immediately announced, but Spanish media reported that former player Xavi Hernández was the favorite to take over.

The team’s next match will take place on Saturday at home against Alavés, threatened with relegation, in the Spanish league.


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