Above and beyond the 3-0 result, there's a sector of the Barcelona fan base that feels the Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich was a humiliation because of how the Blaugrana approached the match. Sitting deep, giving Bayern the pitch and the ball and showing no ambition to do anything other than lose by as few goals as possible, as if saying: at least 3-0 isn’t 8-2. There remains a strong Guardiolista faction among the supporters who just cannot abide by that. They felt it unworthy of the Barça badge to hand themselves over to Bayern; they’re seething that Ronald Koeman didn’t want to put up more of a fight. So once more there are pretty fervent calls for the Dutchman to be given the boot.
Koeman was desperately low on options in attack
I can quite readily see where Koeman was coming from. That may be because I’m not a Barça fan, but it’s also because he was so short on forwards. He didn’t even have Martin Braithwaite. Everyone was injured except Memphis Depay, who’s more of a number 10, and Luuk de Jong, Sevilla’s fourth-choice striker last term. When the season began, Koeman still had Lionel Messi, whose contract Joan Laporta was going to sort out in a jiffy, and Antoine Griezmann; both have now left. Philippe Coutinho is there but isn’t there, and Ansu Fati and Ousmane Dembélé can’t get fit. And that’s just the attack. Looking further back, there are several ageing players, quite a few rookies and not many who are at their peak, somewhere between 25 and 30.
Laporta-Koeman relationship an added complication
To further complicate matters, Laporta wanted to get rid of Koeman when he came in as president, didn’t because he couldn’t find anyone else, and now continues to undermine him, which makes the coach’s job that bit harder and emboldens his critics, who are calling for his departure without offering up a suitable replacement. There’s also the high financial cost of making such a change. The alternative to firing Koeman is to accept that Barça have the squad they have, that people need to be patient while the injured players recover and the youngsters develop, and that getting through this period with a sensible guy in the dugout isn’t the worst way to do it. Yeah, some say to me - but that display against Bayern…