FC Barcelona parted company with Dutch coach Ronald Koeman following the team’s second defeat in four days.
After losing to Real Madrid in the Clasico at Camp Nou on Sunday, 1-2, the Blaugrana traveled to Madrid to play newly-promoted Rayo Vallecano. Barcelona’s lack of ideas and bite allowed Rayo to get the three points, with Koeman being sacked just hours after the final whistle.
President Joan Laporta showed his disbelief in Koeman’s handling of the Barcelona situation months ago when he disclosed he was actively looking for a replacement. In the end, after a meeting between the two, Koeman and Laporta accepted to keep working together.
Barcelona’s crisis of form in the past six weeks has seen them lose to Bayern and Benfica 3-0 in the Champions League, and also drop to mid-table in La Liga. Discontent grew within the locker room, in the stands, and among the team’s board members. Wednesday’s decision came as little surprise to those who followed Barca throughout the season.
According to Catalonian paper Sport, the Barcelona board’s favorite to replace Koeman is Xavi, currently the manager of Al Sadd in Qatar.
Koeman, who was a legendary player for Barcelona, brought the club their first Champions League trophy with his extra-time goal in the 1992 final against Sampdoria. He took over as Barcelona’s coach in August 2020, leading the team in 67 games. Koeman missed out on the major objectives in the Champions League and La Liga, but managed to bring the Cup to the trophy room at Camp Nou.
Bookies have Xavi at -500 to replace Koeman at Barca’s helm, with the next candidate, Roberto Martinez, way behind at +1,000. Andrea Pirlo is third in the favorites’ race at +1,600. Antonio Conte is at +3,300, while Germany’s former boss, Joachim Low, sits at +4,000.
‘Ronald Koeman relieved of his duties as first-team coach’
A brief message published on Barcelona’s website announced Koeman’s departure late on Wednesday. The statement mentioned the Dutchman has been informed by president Laporta of the decision taken following the defeat to Rayo Vallecano.
“FC Barcelona has relieved Ronald Koeman of his duties as first-team coach,” the media release read. “The president of the club, Joan Laporta, informed him of the decision after the defeat against Rayo Vallecano. Ronald Koeman will say goodbye to the squad on Thursday at the Ciutat Esportiva,” Barcelona stated before thanking him for his services and wishing him well in his future career.
Koeman, 58, left the Netherlands’ national team job to take charge of Barcelona, missing out on Euro 2020. At the club level, he worked for the likes of Everton, Southampton, Ajax, PSV, Benfica, and Valencia during his career.
🎙 Manager @RonaldKoeman's analysis of #RayoBarça: pic.twitter.com/a3SBmqAcJS
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) October 27, 2021
On Sunday, as he was leaving the stadium following the clash with Real, Koeman was insulted by angry fans outside Camp Nou. His car was also kicked, with supporters asking him to leave. Following the incidents, Barcelona issued a statement condemning the treatment Koeman was shown.
Fans mobbed Ronald Koeman's car after Barcelona's defeat in El Clasico 😬
— B/R Football (@brfootball) October 24, 2021