Yesterday, Luis Enrique’s Spain lost the game vs France in the final of the UEFA Nations League. The winning goal in the last minutes created a controversy with the possible offside. But we’re a Barça website so we won’t focus on that. However, I think that our team can learn a lot from what we saw yesterday. The match made me question Koeman’s abilities even more, although I know that International football is a little different.
Luis Enrique as the coach of Spain knew that the squad is in the middle of a transition phase. Moreover, the team was missing some key figures like Alba, Dani Olmo, Pedri and Ansu Fati. So, did we hear Lucho complain about the players that he has? Did he say that his players are not good enough to compete against the world champion (beating the European Champions in the semi-finals as well). No, he didn’t. Lucho took the squad that he had and created a team that dominated the game for most parts of the game (Although lacked effectiveness in attack).
So I think that as Barça fans, we can learn a lot from Luis Enrique’s Spain. Let’s dig in.
This is what we have?
We hear that excuse so much in recent weeks. According to Koeman, the players that he has right now are not enough to compete with elite teams. He somehow convinced the board to give him another chance, as Aguero, Dembele and Ansu will be fit soon. But will it matter?
It’s not like Barça looked much better last season, with Leo Messi, Griezmann and Dembele in the team. So why would it matter now?
A good coach can and should take players and make them function as a team. Just look at Busquets and Eric Garcia, as they looked much much better than in Barcelona. You want to blame the injured players on that also?
Time to be innovative again
A decade ago, Barça was the symbol of innovating football that captivated fans around the world. The ‘Tiki Taka’ of Pep took the Cruyff foundations and mastered them. The German coaches took Pep’s methods and made their own way of playing modern football. Furthermore, a player like Dani Alves became the reference for the next generation of fullbacks. Add that to ball-playing goalkeepers, constant pressure and many more and you have modern football right there.
Meanwhile, since the end of Luis Enrique’s era, Barça turned into something else. Instead of keep improving, they took huge steps back. It started with Valverde, and continued with Setien and now Koeman. What all of them have in common? They are ‘old school’ coaches.
Koeman is around 60 years old, and is coaching for more than 20 years now. In his all career he was never known for his tactic abilities. Meanwhile, someone like Valverde turned Barça into a boring team, he knew what he was doing tactically most of the time. Koeman doesn’t even have that.
Moreover, the way Koeman treats his players, blaming them for the mistakes – is also very old school. You don’t see that nowadays, because it doesn’t work.
Next week Barça will return to action with 3 vital games. Playing against Valencia, Kyiv and especially ‘El Clasico’ will be crucial for the Dutch. Honestly, I can’t see him survive after ‘El Clasico’. Moreover, for the first time in years, I’m coming to the match fearing the worst.
2 years ago I spoke with president Laporta and he said that Xavi needs to coach a team in Spain before coaching the Barça first team. I think that Laporta would prefer to finish the season and go for someone like Ten Hagg, and slowly build the team for Xavi.
But there will never be an ideal scenario for Xavi to get in. I think that Xavi is a leader that can turn things around this season. He’s a young, innovative coach who will take the squad that he’ll have and lead them to good places. It might not happen this year, but I think the second half of this season would be a good opportunity to lay the foundations for the next big Barça.
I think that it’s time for bold moves from our board. And Appointing Xavi, while risky, makes a lot of sense.