Madrid, September 22 (BNA): Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman surprised journalists at a press conference on Wednesday by reading a prepared statement in which he called for patience and practically ruled out the team’s chances of achieving any significant results this season.
Barcelona got off to a slow start to the season following the departure of Lionel Messi, winning just two of their first four league games and losing 3-0 at home to Bayern Munich in the opening match of the Champions League.
There was a lot of speculation about Koeman’s future, but the Dutchman said he was backed by the club and asked for the fans’ support in “these difficult times”.
“To occupy a high position in the Spanish League would be a great success,” said Koeman, who left without taking any questions from reporters. “European football is a good school (for our youth) and we cannot expect any miracles in the Champions League.”
He said the loss to Bayern last week should be viewed “from that perspective”.
That moral defeat was followed by a disappointing 1-1 draw at home in La Liga against Granada, also at the Camp Nou. The Catalan club needed an equalizer in the 90th minute to avoid defeat and was mocked by many of its fans after the final whistle.
Under pressure due to the results and the team’s lackluster performance, Koeman said he has the club’s support, but did not mention president Joan Laporta.
The chief said he learned of Koeman’s decision to read from a last-minute statement, along with the team leaders. Laporta told Spanish media that he “respects” the coach’s decision.
Laporta and Koeman have been at odds lately and the president is not hiding the fact that Koeman would not have been his choice as coach.
He appointed former club president Josep Bartomeu Koeman after the team’s humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern last year in the Champions League. Laporta said changing training now would be financially costly for the club.
“The club is with me in this rebuilding mode,” Koeman said. “The club’s financial position is linked to sporting results and vice versa.
This means that we have to rebuild the football team without being able to make any big financial investments. This takes time.”
Barcelona’s financial difficulties prevented the club from awarding Messi a new contract and the Argentine playmaker left to join Paris Saint-Germain.
Koeman said the process the team is now going through “deserves unconditional support in word and deed.”
“This is not the first time in Barcelona’s history that this has happened,” he said.
Koeman’s comments came a day before the team visited Cadiz in La Liga. The Catalan club occupies eighth place in the standings with eight points, five points behind leaders Real Madrid, with a postponed match.