Ronald Koeman: Barcelona cannot 'live in the past'

By Sports Desk June 27, 2022

While criticising Joan Laporta's management, Ronald Koeman has claimed Barcelona are caught up in their own history as football evolves beyond their identity on the pitch.

The former Barcelona head coach claims Laporta placed unnecessary pressure on him before his dismissal in October last year.

Xavi taking over from the 59-year-old formed part of a narrative that the financially embattled club would return to their roots both on and off the pitch, as part of Laporta's second stint as club president.

In an interview with Esport3, Koeman suggested such a sentiment is ultimately impractical and ignorant of football's evolution, while defending his own tactical choices in charge of the Blaugrana.

"I am in favour of dominating the game," he said. "If you play with three central defenders, you cannot say that it is a defensive system. With this system for three or four months, we played the best games in recent years.

"The clearest example was the [2021 Copa del Rey] final against Athletic. Barcelona lives in the past, from 4-3-3, to Tiki-taka. Football has changed. Now it's faster, more physical.

"You can't live in the past. If you have Xavi, Iniesta... and Messi, who by the way, they took from me. This was a very hard one to take."

Koeman also hinted to the weight lifted off his shoulders after his dismissal, especially within the context of leaving the Netherlands national team to take Barcelona over during a period of significant financial and political upheaval at the club.

Laporta was elected as Barcelona president three months after Koeman's replacement of Quique Setien in 2020.

Set to take over the Netherlands from Louis van Gaal after this year's World Cup, Koeman insists life has become less complicated since leaving, but harbours no regrets about his return to the club he won a Champions League with as a player.

"Leaving was a bit of a liberation," he said. "It was a difficult time for the club, without a president, with Laporta's doubts about the coach.

"You want to be a coach and you know that if you don't win you have problems. I made an effort, I left the national team and if it happened again, I would do it again. I don't regret it.

"As president, you can always have doubts but if you say them to the public, everyone doubts. It was a big mistake on his part."

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