Ronald Koeman as a player was and still is a club legend. The things he did under Johan Cruyff’s team will last forever : Being the heart of defence, scoring loads of goals including one in the 5-0 win in ‘El Clasico’ of 1994. And of course the winning goal in the club’s first Champions Cup trophy. After his playing career was over, one of the first things he did was becoming one of the assistant of Van Gaal as the Barcelona coach. Unfortunately, it seems like Koeman learned a lot from Van Gaal, especially in the matter of his problematic man management.
Louis Van Gaal coached Barcelona twice. His first term was from 1997 until 2000. In his first term, Barcelona did manage to win 1 domestic double and another league tite. However, failing to get to the knockout stages of the UCL hurt his legacy. However, the thing that hurt his time the most, was how the Dutch coach handled the squad. Van Gaal brought many Dutch players and released some homegrown players. Moreover, he constantly had clashes with his players.
Christophe Dugarry, French NT striker, signed for Barcelona in 1997 but left after 6 months. Few years ago, Dugarry spoke about what he described as a ‘surreal experience’ and he basically had to beg the club to leave. Other players like Laurent Blanc and of course Rivaldo had issues with Van Gaal.
Ronald Koeman – Van Gaal 2.0?
So, if you are Van Gaal assistant and you see how everything collapsed under him – would you want to act the same? The answer, sadly, seems to be ‘yes’. When Koeman signed, we could hear the Valencia former players talking about how Koeman lacks man management skills. Moreover, it seems like Koeman doesn’t have the tactical knowledge that Van Gaal always had.
The clearest example of the poor man management of Koeman is what I call his ‘Pit’. It seems like there’s a pit that if Koeman put a player in it, it’s impossible to get out of it.
We saw it since the beginning of last season, when apparently Riqui did something that Koeman didn’t like. Since then Riqui pretty much vanished.
In the middle of the season we saw it with Pjanic. The Bosnian midfielder spoke about it when he left of Besiktas. He talked about how players like him sat on the sidelines, and Koeman didn’t even tell them why and what they need to do to change their situation.
This season started with Collado not even getting a shirt number. However, Koeman said he lacks wingers. But he had Collado and Demir.
The Austrian talent had a great preseason, and he got a first team shirt number. But then after 2 bad performances, Koeman made him vanish. Guess what? He’s 18 years old. You can’t ask him to always be great. But personally, I believe he has a lot more to offer than Luuk de Jong.
Scapegoating as an escape
The thing that I dislike the most about coach Koeman, is his press conferences. The Dutch speaks like he’s a journalist working in a TV station. But you’re the coach of the team, so it’s time for you to act like one.
Blaming a certain player will not help him improve. Have anything to say? Tell him in person. It will be a lot better than speaking about a player in the media.
Moreover, they are always the ‘easy targets’ – the youngsters. Koeman will never speak about the veterans or the stars.
You can’t say “I give game time to youngsters”, but either vanish them or play with them all the time (Pedri, Gavi). That’s not how you ‘Count on La Masia’.