Having replaced Quique Setien at the helm this summer, Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman very recently completed his first 100 days in charge of the former champions.
Koeman’s first 100 days were undoubtedly a roller coaster ride for him and the team alike. One week he is the leader capable of overcoming constraints Blaugranas were facing in the past, another week he is on the verge of facing the sack for being incapable of adjusting to the change of cycle that was desperately needed.
A couple of days back, in the Champions League game against Ferencvaros, Barcelona enjoyed a stunning win even though the team started with fringe players. The same week, in a match against Cádiz on Saturday, Barcelona, suffered another embarrassing defeat by conceding two painful goals landing to the 7th position on the La Liga table. This defeat made Koeman be in hot water once again.
Looking at the stats, two questions arise; will Blaugranas have the patience and stamina to keep the Dutchman as their coach for long? Did he deliver enough to stay at Camp Nou when the new Board arrives? To answer these questions let’s see what he has achieved and failed so far.
Different style of play
Although the results of his attempts to change the style of play are not very favourable, still the Dutchman’s efforts to experiment are admirable to some extent. Right from the start, he is continuously trying to change the shape from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 formation. His decisions have thoroughly helped to get strong grounds in the Champions League (until the Juventus loss) but in La Liga, the results are very substandard.
When the team is out of possession, the players try to press high. On the other hand, they suffer when it comes to the ball: the team constantly struggle to make an impact due to the slow circulation of possession. With Frenkie de Jong alongside Sergio Busquets in midfield, this style of play is still questionable.
Unlike his predecessors, authority is the first and foremost thing that the Dutchman was able to achieve in such a short period. This authority enabled him to gain respect from the players for the decisions he has been making and the measures he has been taking — but how long will that continue if results don’t start to come?
Relationship with Messi
The sigh of relief for the fans lately is Koeman’s positive relationship with the Captain — at least better than what Argentine had with former coach Quique Setién. Koeman is trying to get the best out of Lionel Messi.
Vocal for defending the team
Koeman’s first 100 days proved himself as a supportive coach. He is known for taking a stand for his team at various moments. When it comes to speaking against the referees for their biased decisions, Koeman does not hold back. He is not afraid of facing authorities after criticizing the referees and defending his team. Whether it is press conferences or the dressing room; he knows what he is trying to convey and is clear in his speech.
Intense training and interest in youth (?)
Since the new Barca boss has taken charge, he has been adding intensity to the training sessions to prepare his team for the challenging times. His commitment to the youth is also a welcoming factor. Ansu Fati and Pedro González López are two of the emerging talents which Koeman has been relying on. However, at the same time, La Masia-born Riqui Puig has only had a total of 85 minutes under the Dutchman, which raises questions.
Victories are still inconsistent as the team embarrassingly struggles in La Liga. This by far is the most disappointing La Liga season the club has witnessed in the past 29 years. Apart from Fati and Pedri, young talents like Carles Alena and Riqui Puig have not had the chances they deserve, despite the fact that they have proven to be promising in the very little moments they were on the field.
The important part of the team in terms of reliability and effectiveness is still shaky, and that is the defence. Last but not least, the Dutchman is still confused with his gala-lineup, even after 100 days. It all seems to be a guessing game on his end; who plays, and where.