It is arguably one of the most predictable coach layoffs in football history. Announced on the departure for several weeks now, even several months, Ronald Koeman is no longer the coach of Barça since Wednesday evening and a new defeat in La Liga against Rayo Vallecano. The end of an adventure of a little over a year, terrible for the Dutch coach. A nightmare of 435 days, 67 games, 40 wins, 16 losses. Here it is summarized in a few key dates.
August 19, 2020: the job nobody wanted
It was in the summer of 2020, a few days after the huge slap inflicted by Bayern on Barça (8-3) in the Final 8 of the Champions League in Lisbon, that Ronald Koeman was appointed in place of Quique Setien. This job, not many people wanted it: the coaches contacted, like the former glory of the Xavi house, understood that the workforce was wobbly and the club in a cataclysmic financial situation. However, Koeman, legendary former defender of the club, sticks to it. In passing his post as coach of the Netherlands, where he had been doing wonders for two years.
“I am proud and happy to come home,” he said. Everyone knows what Barça represents to me. It will be difficult, because there is always a demand for results at Barça but it is a dream to be there. We will work to restore the prestige that the club deserves. “
October 24, 2020: first clasico, first eddies
After an average start to the season, it was October 24, 2020 that the problems began for Ronald Koeman. And as often at Barça, it is after a clasico against Real Madrid, lost 3-1. The Spanish press then underlines Zidane’s tactical lesson to Koeman and begins to doubt the Dutchman’s ability to revive this team. In the process, Barça conceded a very sad draw to Alavès and equalized his record for the lowest number of points after six La Liga days with eight units, as in 2002-2003.
February 16: humiliation against PSG
This match, hard to forget. Yet in the lead after a generous penalty, Barça of Messi and Koeman collapsed against PSG Mbappé, author of a hat-trick on the lawn of Camp Nou. More than a defeat at home (behind closed doors), this match sounds like a turning point: Barça was overtaken by a rival he had hitherto denigrated and beaten. The daily AS then points to the new “European catastrophe” looming for Barça, just a few months after the 8-3. On the return, the Blaugrana club is logically eliminated, at the stage of the round of 16. Proof that it is now only a second-tier club on a continental scale.
April 17: a rare moment of happiness
By scoring 4 goals in 12 minutes after returning from the locker room, Barça knocked out Bilbao to win their 31st Copa del Rey. The Blaugranas were carried by an excellent De Jong, decisive double passer and scorer, and a great Messi, author of a double. A break in the storm for Koeman, who brings back his first and only title as Barça coach.
At the end of the meeting, the question of Messi’s future, at the end of his contract in June, is already on everyone’s lips: “We don’t know if he will stay. It is he who will decide his future. As the chairman has already said, we are doing everything we can to keep him with us for a few more years. He led the team in the best possible way. (…) But we also have to talk about the other players, who worked to find Leo between the lines, so that he shines. Today the team has been fantastic. “
April 29: the defeat in Granada which costs the title
Knocked down on his home turf by Granada (2-1), FC Barcelona missed a great opportunity to seize the lead in the La Liga standings. Result, Barça, unable to break after the opening scoring of Lionel Messi, remains third, the place he will occupy at the end of the championship. His counter remains stuck at 26 Spanish league titles, the last dating back to 2019.
August 5: the departure of the idol
Despite Koeman’s best efforts to keep him, FC Barcelona announces that their Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi will ultimately not sign a contract extension. The serious financial difficulties of Barça got the better of the operation, despite a pecuniary effort from the Argentine striker, ready to halve his salary and extend for five seasons. The six Golden Ball striker, just winner of the Copa America with Argentina, had become this season the player who played the most games at Barça (778 games, 672 goals).
PODCAST. Messi recruited, Mbappé kept … story of a transfer window of madness at PSG
September 14 and 30: Barça still explodes in Europe, “Koeman dug his grave”
New season, new European matches, new humiliations. Back in the Champions League, Barça is slapped on entry by Bayern Munich at home (and with the public this time), 0-3. Two weeks later, it was Benfica Lisbon who had abandoned Barça. The daily Sport credits him the following day with a score of 0/10. “Bad. He did everything to get fired. A repositioning of pathetic Frenkie De Jong, unable to correct a single thing. The light went out. (…) Koeman dug his own grave in Lisbon ”.
And if most of the Spanish media think that his dismissal is only a matter of days, even hours, the Cadena Ser specifies: “If Barça had money, Koeman would already be there. “
October 24: the defeat too many in the clasico, the supporters physically attack him
It has now been several weeks since each match Koeman led at the head of Barca seems to be the last. Already, in September, the Spanish press had widely spread the idea that an ultimatum of the “next three games to redress the bar” had been given to him by his management. Despite this, Koeman is still on the bench for the clasico, once again lost at home to Real, showing little or nothing.
The new generation (Gavi-Pedri-Fati) is no longer enough to give hope to the supporters, who physically attack Koeman on leaving Camp Nou. In his car, the Dutch coach is heckled, proof that the link is definitely broken.
It is finally a new defeat, three days later against the modest Rayo Vallecano, which will seal the fate of the Dutch coach.