Imagine a scenario; Possibly the greatest icon of your football club is at crossroads whether to stay on or abandon his beloved club, the top management is in shambles, the squad is ageing & suddenly the weight of expectations is notably matched by the team’s ability and cohesion. The manager has just been sacked & the fans are panicking like the people who abandoned Hamelin. It’s not far from being a nightmare scenario. One Dutch manager, by the name of Ronald Koeman, finds himself in a similar situation.
The world is forever indebted to the Dutch system for providing talent that has altered the course of Footballing history every few years. One of the many diamonds that the Europeans have produced is Ronald Koeman. So many modern footballers have channelled their footballing talents into the coaching world, and Ronald Koeman is no exception.
There’s loads of information and opinions out there discussing Koeman’s tactics and, if and how those tactics would fit in, to complete this jigsaw puzzle in Catalunia. So, let’s not confer on the same lines. Let’s leave that to the experts. Let’s delve into a more profound question here. Why a new incoming manager, in such tumultuous times, should be given enough breathing space to create his imprint.
Koeman began his managerial career with success in the Dutch league. The Premier League came calling, and Koeman had to go. But today’s metric in judging Koeman’s ability comes from what we saw with the Dutch national team.
The moment the news of Ronald Koeman taking over the reins at Barcelona came out, international players of the Dutch team heavily resorted to social media to congratulate and pass on good wishes for his endeavour.
The Dutch seniority has forever been all praise for the manger with the likes of Wijnaldum, Van Dijk and Memphis Depay even indicating that the growth in their gameplay has a lot to do with what they’ve learned from the former Valencia coach.
WHY KOEMAN NEEDS TIME AT BARCELONA
Let’s dive in. For one, Ronald Koeman comes in with a resume that boasts success and experience. He’s managed teams that sat somewhere midtable, to teams that were serial champions (Ajax in the Eredivisie), to the national team’s job. Koeman comes in with a lot of experience of handling tricky situations, and the results show that more often than not, he’s championed the adversity.
Koeman also comes in with immense love for the club that gave him the recognition as a player that has honed his career for the past 30 years as player & manager. There’s an intangible sense of wanting to give back to the club that gave you everything. Modern football is filled with such examples—Zidane with Madrid, Pep with Barcelona and very recently, Lampard with Chelsea. Koeman could well be the piece that gives stability to the team in these turbulent times.
Koeman also inherits a team that has a pool of extremely talented, young individuals. With Fati, Dembele, Frenkie De Jong and Lenglet, they have a youthful squad ready to take on any challenge. Another boost is that there’s also an excellent mix of mature players who are now in the peak age of flourishing, with Coutinho, Pjanic and Griezmann. There’s lots to be hopeful about with Koeman coming in. There’s the youth who will be given ample opportunities, and there’s enough flair and experience to guide them through tough times.
Another issue that lingers is the fact that the Barcelona management is losing trust within the supporters. Situations like the ones that are currently at Manchester United are not unheard of in modern football. The distrust in the management seeps into the coaching staff, and slowly the club becomes a toxic breeding ground for a blame game.
Giving Koeman the time he needs to implement his philosophy and to get the players to play in a manner that best represents the Barcelona way of playing, could be what the management needs to do, to get the fans back into their dugout. Football is now a game of fast outcomes, but it’s also a game of loyalty. And fans all over the world have displayed that their commitment will always be subject to the management’s vision being in the benefit of the club’s growth.
Koeman comes from a philosophy that Johan Cryuff imbibed at Barcelona. One that taught the entirety of that generation to play, watch and enjoy football in a particular way. Koeman is a champion of that system. He will do everything to restore Barcelona’s reputation to the one which Catalunia witnessed during the Cryuff era or the Pep era.
More than anything else, Koeman should be given time for the simple ethical rule that for any turnaround to happen, the first prerequisite is trust and patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day and Barcelona will not be rebuilt in one, either. Every project deserves a gestation period. A period where trust and belief is cultivated, and a spirit of togetherness is bred. Koeman needs to be given that time. This has to come not just in the form of backing from the management.
The fans need to be patient and empathetic about the fact that the team must face adversity and fail and learn, to finally create a system where one of the most celebrated clubs in Europe is restored with credibility and integrity. Something FC Barcelona has always boasted of.