Not a soul wandered by a ghostly Camp Nou, deserted due to the pandemic. Not a single tourist, of course. Because there is not, there is no grass in the stadium since it is changing for the next season. When Ronald Koeman appeared, after signing his contract for two seasons (until 2022, none of them subject to elections) there was scorched earth behind him when he posed for the traditional photos in the box with President Josep Maria Bartomeu. Perhaps it is a metaphor for the current Barça, a sad and finished team, who put themselves in the hands of a hero to rebuild the demolished work in Lisbon.
Koeman appeared in the 1899 Auditori at the Camp Nou with energy and enthusiasm, oblivious to the depressive atmosphere that shakes Barcelona fans from the 2-8 Bayern Munich. Her joy was logical because she had been waiting almost two decades for that moment. And he used very Cruyff terms to revive a calavera club and a squad worn down by the passage of time. “The first thing I will say to the players is that football is to enjoy,” said the new coach, appealing to the playful spirit to start the reconstruction.
“Without enjoying, you don’t get the most out of it. But you must work, you must seek both and be, above all, proud to play for this club. We are privileged, “argued the Dutchman, merging both concepts-fun and work-” to regain lost prestige. “
Presentation of Koeman with Barcelona. EFE / Reuters
Barça is no longer what it used to be. He has remained blank, something that had not happened since 2008 when Guardiola appeared to reactivate a club that was also self-satisfied, supported by success. As has happened now too. “Nobody wants the image from the other day. Not me, not the president, not the partners … I felt very sad. Changes must be made. Now to work, “appealing to the” intensity “, a keyword that you have repeated several times.
The fifth Dutch
But Koeman is clear enough on the diagnosis. And not. It is not a question of age. “I know there are players of a certain age, but you have to respect everyone. If you have to make decisions, they will be made,” said the coach. “When a player is 31, 32 or 33 years old, it means that he is finished. It’s the hunger you have to be here and to give your best. There are people in their 20s who lack hunger and work, “said the Dutchman, the fifth Dutch coach in the club’s history after Rinus Michels, Johan Cruyff, Louis van Gaal and Frank Rijkaard.
“I only want to work with those who want to be here. And if any of them do not want to or are not happy, let them tell the club,” Koeman said, raising his voice. There it seemed more Cruyff than ever. Even when he spoke of the “capitano Messi“, the first delicate matter that you will have to touch.
“Convince him? I don’t know if I have to do it or not. He’s the best in the world and you want him to be on your team and not the other way around. I love working with Messi “, stressed a pragmatic coach, moving away from the traditional devotion to the star. “If he gets a performance, he is very happy if he wants to stay. In addition, he has a one-year contract,” he recalled.
The talk with Leo
Koeman will talk about all this with the Argentine captain. “I hope I will be here for many years. If I say here, I’m going to tell Messi, I don’t need to meet him. They are private things, “said Koeman, who will talk with the other captains. He only wanted to talk about Leo and Frenkie de Jong on a private level.
Not a word uttered about the future of Luis Suarez or the rest of the sacred cows, whose hierarchies will be altered by the arrival of the Dutchman, the new head of the dressing room. “Suarez? If there are positive or negative decisions, the first thing to do is talk to the player. Messi is different, he is the captain, “he said before acknowledging that his words about De Jong were still valid when he denounced that at Barça he did not play in his place.” I said it, it is true, he has not played in his position. And you should find the best one so that you feel comfortable and get the best performance. “
Signature until 2022
On his first day, Koeman didn’t get a second off. In the morning he went to the sports city of Sant Joan Despí, where he already received the first reports on the status of the squad, then he had lunch with Bartomeu and Ramon Planes, Abidal’s successor, the fifth technical secretary in the last five years.
There he was informed of the signings -He did not want to talk about Van Beek, the talent of Ajax- and the casualty list. He is clear about the stamp that his Barça will have: «I am Dutch, I like to have the ball and not run after it. We are not afraid to put the young people.
And, furthermore, before leaving the Camp Nou, Koeman wanted to leave one last message in electoral terms. “I have a two-year contract. There are choices, I already know. But if my team plays well and I win, the next president may have more doubts and hopefully he stays with me. “