Koeman insists he does not feel like a ‘failed coach’ after Barcelona spell
Koeman will reclaim his former position as Netherlands head coach after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar when he takes over from Louis van Gaal.
Ronald Koeman says his Barcelona successor Xavi deserves the support of the Catalan giants but has again defended his own Camp Nou record.
Ronald Koeman has called on former club Barcelona to show Xavi more support than he received in the Camp Nou dugout and defended his own record with the Blaugrana.
Koeman spent just over a year in the Camp Nou dugout before being sacked in October 2021, winning the Copa del Ray last season but overseeing a third-place finish in LaLiga and the departure of legendary attacker Lionel Messi.
Barca sat ninth in the top flight when the Dutchman departed, but are now favourites to secure Champions League qualification after Xavi oversaw an upturn in results.
However, the Catalan giants recently lost three successive home games for just the second time in their illustrious history, and Koeman says club president Joan Laporta must show Xavi more support than he was granted during his own spell in charge.
Koeman hopes Xavi is backed
“The situation of Barca, of the team and of the club, is the same as when I was [there],” he said at a golf charity event in Barcelona. “It means that changing the coach does not always mean being able to improve. The situation of the club hurts me.
“From January I will be the coach of the Netherlands, but I ask for maximum support for Xavi. He is a good coach, a legend at home and it is not his fault that Barca is in this situation.
“The only thing I ask is support for Xavi, I haven’t had the full support of a president, I hope he [Laporta] has learned and does support Xavi. I didn’t have support from the club and I hope Xavi does.
“Internally, you can say you have doubts, but on the outside there has to be support.”
January arrivals make impression
Barca enjoyed an upturn in results after the January arrivals of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ferran Torres but rivals Real Madrid are now 15 points clear at the top of LaLiga.
Los Blancos will secure their 35th title by earning a point at home to Espanyol on Saturday after winning eight of their last nine league games (one loss), and Koeman says that gap is evidence that his time in charge was not a complete failure, highlighting financial difficulties and presidential elections as having a severe impact throughout his tenure.
“When I left, Madrid was eight points ahead and now the difference is almost double,” he added. “I don’t feel like a failed coach, far from it.
“In January we were twelve points behind Atlético Madrid, we had the opportunity to be first against Granada and we failed. We kept the Copa and if you win a title it’s not a failure.
“I spent many months without a president, I had to make statements about the club’s situation, there was financial fair play [issues]. Then Messi and [Antoine] Griezmann left on the last day of the market.
“I was heavily criticised for signing Luuk Jong, who is very good when you need a finisher. Luckily his goals have given five or six points in the last few minutes. I think that one person or a coach cannot be blamed for the loss of [the club’s] DNA.”
Return to national side
Koeman will reclaim his former position as Netherlands head coach after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar when he takes over from Louis van Gaal and will be reunited with Blaugrana midfielder Frenkie de Jong.
De Jong has come in for some criticism for his recent displays and has been linked with a move to Manchester United, but Koeman believes the 24-year-old will prove any doubters wrong.
“I don’t think Barca wants to sell Frenkie, Xavi doesn’t want to either,” he added. “You don’t have to doubt Frenkie de Jong, I don’t doubt him and he’s a starter in the national team. We put a player on top of everything and two weeks later we criticise him.”