Barcelona call time on Koeman tenure

By Sports Desk October 27, 2021

Ronald Koeman has been sacked by Barcelona after the club's dismal start to the 2021-22 campaign rolled on.

Koeman replaced Quique Setien in August 2020 but has failed to make an impact at Camp Nou as he battled with Barca's dire financial situation, which led to Lionel Messi departing for Paris Saint-Germain.

Barca sit ninth in LaLiga after 10 games and Wednesday's defeat to Rayo Vallecano proved the final straw.

That loss followed on from a 2-1 home reverse at the hands of Real Madrid in El Clasico, with Koeman's vehicle mobbed by an angry group of Barca supporters after that match. 

Barca's form in the Champions League has also been poor. The Blaugrana lost 3-0 to Bayern Munich and Benfica respectively in their opening matches, before clinching a 1-0 home win over Dynamo Kiev.

It is the first time Barca have opened with two losses in the competition, while the defeat to Benfica also inflicted back-to-back group game losses in a single season for the first time since 2000-01, with only Louis van Gaal (five) losing more such matches at Barca's helm than Koeman (three).

After each passing poor result, Koeman has conceded his future is out of his hands, though he argued the performance against Rayo did not befit the result.

Yet Barca's board decided to cut ties, with their decision confirmed early on Thursday morning local time.

"FC Barcelona has relieved Ronald Koeman of his duties as first team coach," a club statement read.

"The president of the club, Joan Laporta, informed him of the decision after the defeat against Rayo Vallecano. Ronald Koeman will say goodbye to the squad on Thursday at the Ciutat Esportiva.  

"FC Barcelona wishes to thank him for his service to the Club and wishes him all the best in his professional career."

Koeman had endured a strained relationship with club president Joan Laporta since the former's election.

When elected in March, Laporta made it clear that Koeman was not a part of his long-term plans and the relationship has deteriorated from then on, despite suggestions at one point of a new contract for the Dutchman.

Barca will face Alaves in LaLiga on Saturday as they bid to salvage their position in the table without Koeman.

Related items

  • Klopp’s kids and Chelsea’s Wembley blues – stats behind Carabao Cup final Klopp’s kids and Chelsea’s Wembley blues – stats behind Carabao Cup final

    Sunday’s Carabao Cup final brought Jurgen Klopp an eighth trophy as Liverpool manager as his inexperienced side saw off Chelsea 1-0 at Wembley.

    It was a sixth consecutive defeat in domestic cup finals for Chelsea and here, the PA news agency looks at the noteworthy statistical implications of the match.

    Trophy haul

    Klopp has won seven different honours with Liverpool, with Virgil van Dijk’s extra-time winner meaning the League Cup is the first trophy his side have lifted more than once.

    Victory over Tottenham in the 2019 Champions League final brought his first trophy and the following season saw Liverpool win the UEFA Super Cup, the Club World Cup and then the Premier League.

    A domestic cup double in 2021-22, both in penalty shoot-outs against Chelsea after goalless finals, allowed them to add the 2022 Community Shield.

    An eighth different prize could yet come in this season’s Europa League, a competition in which Liverpool lost the 2015-16 final to Sevilla at the end of Klopp’s debut season.

    Sunday was Liverpool’s record 10th League Cup win.

    Klopp’s kids

    Much was made of the youth of the Liverpool team that ended the game but Chelsea too are in a rebuilding phase – their finishing XI actually had a slightly younger average age than their Liverpool counterparts, 23 years and 77 days to 24 years and 172 days.

    Liverpool brought on Bobby Clark, James McConnell and Jayden Danns for, respectively, their ninth, seventh and second senior appearances, while Jarell Quansah was playing only his 20th Reds game and 36th in senior football.

    Van Dijk, though, lifted the total senior appearances of their finishing XI to 1,670, compared to Chelsea’s 1,513, with Joe Gomez joining him above 200 club appearances as Liverpool totalled 817 by that measure to Chelsea’s 371.

    The key difference is the method of acquiring those players. While Liverpool finished with five academy products on the pitch, and started another in Conor Bradley, Chelsea’s were largely acquired in Todd Boehly and co’s billion-pound spending spree.

    The Blues XI that finished the game cost a reported £466million in transfer fees, with Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo both £100m-plus signings and every outfield player bar homegrown pair Trevoh Chalobah and Levi Colwill costing £25m or more. Van Dijk accounts for just over half of the £148m cost of Liverpool’s XI.

    Final destination

    Gary Neville, on co-commentary duty for Sky, labelled Chelsea “billion-pound bottle jobs” after Van Dijk’s winner. And while the Blues won the 2021 Champions League and 2019 Europa League, they have lost six successive domestic finals since lifting the 2018 FA Cup.

    Sunday’s setback followed in a near-identical vein to Liverpool’s 2021-22 cup double, with Van Dijk staving off the prospect of another penalty shoot-out.

    Kostas Tsimikas, whose corner set up that goal, scored the winning kick in the FA Cup final two years ago while the League Cup was a nightmare for Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who was substituted on for the shoot-out but conceded to all 11 Liverpool players – including goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher – before blazing his own penalty over the bar.

    That echoed 2019’s confusion over Maurizio Sarri’s attempt to substitute Kepa off before the start of the shoot-out. He saved from Leroy Sane but let a weak Sergio Aguero effort under him as Manchester City won 4-3.

    Youri Tielemans settled the 2021 FA Cup final in Leicester’s favour, a year after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s double earned Arsenal a 2-1 win over Chelsea. Christian Pulisic’s early opener was Chelsea’s only goal in the six finals.

    Manager Mauricio Pochettino also lost both his finals with former club Tottenham, in the 2019 Champions League – against Liverpool – and the 2015 League Cup.

  • England boss Sarina Wiegman backs Fran Kirby to respond to latest fitness issue England boss Sarina Wiegman backs Fran Kirby to respond to latest fitness issue

    England boss Sarina Wiegman is “positive” Fran Kirby will bounce back from her latest fitness issue and brushed aside suggestions that the midfielder’s lack of playing time is becoming a concern.

    Kirby pulled up in the warm-up before the Lionesses’ 7-2 friendly victory over Austria on Friday night, and on Sunday the Football Association confirmed she had withdrawn from the squad for further assessment on a “minor knee injury.”

    It is yet another blow for Kirby, who missed out on the Lionesses’ World Cup campaign last summer after undergoing knee surgery for a long-standing issue, and in October pulled on an England shirt for the first time in over a year.

    Asked about Kirby’s injury history and limited starts for her club, Wiegman said: “I don’t think at Chelsea it always has been the reason that she’s injured or not available or not starting.

    “There’s also technical, tactical decisions. She was available for us, she would start and she wasn’t available to, which is a disappointment, and moving forward we will see how things develop. I hope she’ll be on the pitch quick, and I’m positive about that.”

    Kirby has returned to Chelsea, with what Wiegman says was “some irritation on her knee. It’s a minor injury, but we didn’t want to take any risk, so she’s being assessed at the club and we don’t expect it to be a bad injury.”

    The 30-year-old started every game of England’s Euro 2022-winning run, scoring twice and picking up three assists, but in the months prior to selection had suffered from a debilitating fatigue-related illness, later admitting in a book by Millie Farrow, released last year, that she would be forced to rethink her playing career if it happened again.

    She told the former Chelsea striker: “I think the competitiveness in me is ‘try one more time’ but I will get to the stage where I think ‘I can’t keep doing this.”

    Kirby also sat out a long spell during the 2019-20 season with pericarditis, a heart condition, and during last February’s Conti Cup final re-aggravated a knee issue that had plagued her since she was a pre-teen.

    Though she had hoped to avoid surgery, doctors ultimately determined it would be the best way forward to treat what they diagnosed as tripartite patella, in which two bone fragments were attached by tissue, but not joined to her patella bone.

    After missing England’s World Cup campaign last summer, which saw them finish runners-up, Kirby made an emotional return to international action in October, coming on as a substitute in the Lionesses’ 1-0 Nations League victory over Belgium.

    She has appeared in 14 Women’s Super League matches and five Champions League contests this season, scoring three goals and picking up two assists across all competitions, though her starts have been limited.

    It does not help Kirby’s case that competition for playing time at both club and country is increasingly cut-throat.

    On Friday, 20-year-old Grace Clinton emphatically introduced herself to the senior squad with a goal on her debut in the first of England’s two international friendlies in Spain, with Italy up next on Tuesday night.

    Midfielder Keira Walsh welcomes the challenge, saying: “That’s the hope, isn’t it, that they do come in and take our place? Four of the under-23s trained with us yesterday, and the idea is that they’ll be coming in and taking our shirts off us.

    “We don’t want to be predictable in the way we play, we don’t want to be predictable in who’s playing. I think that’s something that’s really special about this England team. We have such good squad depth that anybody can play at any time.”

  • England boss Sarina Wiegman backs Fran Kirby to respond to late fitness issue England boss Sarina Wiegman backs Fran Kirby to respond to late fitness issue

    England boss Sarina Wiegman is “positive” Fran Kirby will bounce back from her latest fitness issue and brushed aside suggestions that the midfielder’s lack of playing time is becoming a concern.

    Kirby pulled up in the warm-up before the Lionesses’ 7-2 friendly victory over Austria on Friday night, and on Sunday the Football Association confirmed she had withdrawn from the squad for further assessment on a “minor knee injury.”

    It is yet another blow for Kirby, who missed out on the Lionesses’ World Cup campaign last summer after undergoing knee surgery for a long-standing issue, and in October pulled on an England shirt for the first time in over a year.

    Asked about Kirby’s injury history and limited starts for her club, Wiegman said: “I don’t think at Chelsea it always has been the reason that she’s injured or not available or not starting.

    “There’s also technical, tactical decisions. She was available for us, she would start and she wasn’t available to, which is a disappointment, and moving forward we will see how things develop. I hope she’ll be on the pitch quick, and I’m positive about that.”

    Kirby has returned to Chelsea, with what Wiegman says was “some irritation on her knee. It’s a minor injury, but we didn’t want to take any risk, so she’s being assessed at the club and we don’t expect it to be a bad injury.”

    The 30-year-old started every game of England’s Euro 2022-winning run, scoring twice and picking up three assists, but in the months prior to selection had suffered from a debilitating fatigue-related illness, later admitting in a book by Millie Farrow, released last year, that she would be forced to rethink her playing career if it happened again.

    She told the former Chelsea striker: “I think the competitiveness in me is ‘try one more time’ but I will get to the stage where I think ‘I can’t keep doing this.”

    Kirby also sat out a long spell during the 2019-20 season with pericarditis, a heart condition, and during last February’s Conti Cup final re-aggravated a knee issue that had plagued her since she was a pre-teen.

    Though she had hoped to avoid surgery, doctors ultimately determined it would be the best way forward to treat what they diagnosed as tripartite patella, in which two bone fragments were attached by tissue, but not joined to her patella bone.

    After missing England’s World Cup campaign last summer, which saw them finish runners-up, Kirby made an emotional return to international action in October, coming on as a substitute in the Lionesses’ 1-0 Nations League victory over Belgium.

    She has appeared in 14 Women’s Super League matches and five Champions League contests this season, scoring three goals and picking up two assists across all competitions, though her starts have been limited.

    It does not help Kirby’s case that competition for playing time at both club and country is increasingly cut-throat.

    On Friday, 20-year-old Grace Clinton emphatically introduced herself to the senior squad with a goal on her debut in the first of England’s two international friendlies in Spain, with Italy up next on Tuesday night.

    Midfielder Keira Walsh welcomes the challenge, saying: “That’s the hope, isn’t it, that they do come in and take our place? Four of the under-23s trained with us yesterday, and the idea is that they’ll be coming in and taking our shirts off us.

    “We don’t want to be predictable in the way we play, we don’t want to be predictable in who’s playing. I think that’s something that’s really special about this England team. We have such good squad depth that anybody can play at any time.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.