Madrid (AFP) – Ronald Koeman raised a passionate defence of the job he has done as Barcelona coach on Saturday, amid speculation the Dutchman will not be in charge next season.
Koeman confirmed he met with the club’s president Joan Laporta this week but was unable to say he was given assurances about his future.
“I cannot explain very much,” said Koeman in a press conference. “We have spoken about Barca, the team, the season, the last few results and we agreed to speak again at the end of the season.”
Koeman appeared sceptical about the backing he received and irritated by criticism in the media after one win in four games has left Barca’s La Liga title hopes hanging by a thread.
Asked if he feels mistreated by recent criticism, Koeman said: “Yes a little bit, yes, in the last two weeks.” He added: “If I heard the media in the last few days, it looks like we did a really bad job and I don’t agree.”
Barcelona have already won the Copa del Rey and looked ready to claim a domestic double before defeat at home to Granada and a draw away at Levante on Tuesday left them on the fringes of the title race.
If Atletico Madrid beat Osasuna on Sunday, Barca will be out of the running, regardless of their result at home to Celta Vigo.
In the Champions League, meanwhile, they were knocked out in the last 16 by Paris Saint-Germain in March but it has been a broadly positive season overall, after Koeman arrived on the back of the 8-2 thrashing by Bayern Munich and Lionel Messi trying to leave.
– ‘Analyse whole season’ –
“It’s important to analyse the whole season,” Koeman said. “You have to realise what we came into, how the team was and what has been achieved this season, in spite of the difficulties we had.
“We are disappointed because of the moments when we could have gone top of La Liga. We didn’t do it but for any coach the important thing is to be able to work at a club that has absolute confidence in you. That is the most important thing. I can and I want to continue.”
Koeman continued: “To criticise and say that in one moment things have been perfect and then two weeks later, everything is horrible, I don’t think that’s fair.”
Koeman said he felt “very supported” by the players and pointed out how his squad has been stretched after the club were “able to sign only one player”. Barcelona signed Sergino Dest from Ajax after Koeman’s arrival last summer.
Koeman also used a question about a lack of goals from midfield to highlight the team’s style of play.
“We are the second best team in Europe for goals scored, behind only Bayern Munich, and we are the most offensive team with the ball, our chances created equal to Manchester City,” Koeman said.
“Whatever the system the mentality has been to attack, to have the ball, that’s Barcelona.”
Barca sold Luis Suarez at the start of the season to Atletico Madrid and the Uruguayan has been key to Atletico’s own title charge. Koeman then lost the hugely talented Ansu Fati to injury.
“We have to be more clinical but you have to remember we are missing people up top, like Ansu Fati,” Koeman said. “There are not many options, not many people up front to make us more clinical.”
Fati is perhaps Barcelona’s most exciting prospect but Koeman has overseen the emergence of several younger players, including Pedri, Oscar Mingueza, Dest, Ronald Araujo and Ilaix Moriba.
“In key moments we have not won games but this team has a big future,” said Koeman. “If we can strengthen in certain areas, we can take the next step.”
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