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Koeman: “I don’t know if another coach would do better”

Ronald Koeman during the press conference / Miguel Ruiz FCB
Ronald Koeman during a press conference / MIGUEL RUIZ, FC BARCELONA

The day before the game against Atlético Madrid, Ronald Koeman answered questions about his future, the game against Benfica and more.

FC Barcelona has not looked in great shape so far this season, and pressure is mounting up on head coach Ronald Koeman. After consecutive draws against Granada (1-1) and Cádiz (0-0) in La Liga, the tide seemed to have changed with a convincing 3-0 win against Levante. However, Barça failed to impress Benfica in a 0-3 loss in the Champions League, meaning the team is on zero out of six points in that tournament and currently sit sixth in La Liga.

Manager Ronald Koeman (58) has been under a lot of pressure for a while and seems to struggle with his relationship with both the press and the club, especially president Laporta.

Koeman opened the press conference by quoting fellow Dutch FC Barcelona coach Louis van Gaal by saying: “I remember a phrase from Van Gaal. Good morning, friends of the press. How well!” Van Gaal said this (“Amigas y amigos of the press. I’m leaving, congratulations”) before he left his position as Barça coach in 2000. However, Koeman added that he’s not leaving yet.

About the game against Benfica:

“They won the league last year. They deserved to win with the way they played. They’re competitive. It’s difficult to find gaps and they defend very well in their own area. They’re a great team. You have to try to find a good last pass to create opportunities, this costs us a lot. Surely we won’t have more chances than against Benfica but if we get three or four of them, we need to make sure we convert them to win.”

“We have to change things, we can get some of the attackers back from injury and we have to keep following the plan. That doesn’t depend on the results, it’s something normal.”

About his days being numbered:

“It’s a question for tomorrow. I’m not the most important thing, the team is. I’m here out of love for the club, I arrived in a very complicated situation and it seems more complicated now than the first day. Everyone has their opinion but I’m only interested in the players and in preparing for the game.”

“The club hasn’t told me anything, really. I found out that the president was here this morning but I didn’t see him. We were training but I’m still feeling the same way. I have ears and eyes and I already know that a lot of things are leaked to the press. It could be true but, once again, he hasn’t said anything to me.”

About his relationship with president Joan Laporta:

“I’m not going to answer questions about that.”

About the work he has done with the team:

“I’m tired of defending the work I do. We have done some important things and we have assumed changes from the club. There are people who think there is a lack of respect or that the club needs time. Yes, I would like to speak freely one day and say what I think.”

“I don’t know if another coach could get more out of it. We have a lot of young players. There is a lot of talk about the system and that’s because there are other players available. The coach’s job is to do it with the players he has. If there would’ve been a bag full of money, I would’ve had Messi here and I would have other players available to dominate the game and put pressure on the opponents. If our attackers return from injury, we can have a strong squad and the youngsters ask for playing time and they deserve to have these opportunities.”

About the way he’s feeling and whether there has been a lack of respect:

“Honestly, I could be doing better.”

“It’s not necessary to answer. It’s normal. You (journalists) are very important. You can criticize or help but it’s not a matter of being good or bad. It’s the treatment that’s important to me.”

“The best moment was signing for the club. The worst moment was Messi’s departure.”

About the difficulties of competing with big teams:

“There’s a lack of balance. We only have a few attackers available. Ansu is on his way back but needs a little longer, which is normal after so much time away. We lack players that look for one-on-one’s and we lack speed. That’s how spaces are generated and I already said the other day that we lack effectiveness. Atlético creates fewer chances than us but they’re capable of converting a shot into a goal. The other day in the Champions League we were at a high level, but out of four chances, we have to score at least one or two. That’s the big difference and it costs us a lot.”

About Jordi Cruijff:

“It’s true that from the first day, he told me that he wouldn’t be a coach at this club. He told the club that too. I talk to him every day and what we talk about, stays between us.”

After another interesting press conference, a Barça team led by a visibly hurt Ronald Koeman (although he won’t be on the bench because of a suspension) will take on defending Champions Atlético Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano at 21:00 local time.