‘I can handle the criticism. We cannot become obsessed by it’: Ronald Koeman urges Barcelona stars to keep their heads amid financial storm and player rows engulfing the club
- Ronald Koeman said his players ‘need a bit of calm’ amid relentless criticism
- Barcelona are looking for their first league win in five games against Real Betis
- The Dutchman said even victory may not be enough to calm things down
- Marc-Andre ter Stegen to make first league appearance following knee surgery
Ronald Koeman has shot back at criticism over his tenure as Barcelona manager, admitting that there are issues at the club but his players cannot get bogged down by them.
The former Dutch defender said he understood that teams such as Barcelona are held to a higher standard than others in LaLiga, but even getting the right results may not make the clamour die down.
‘We need three points and a bit of calm but even if we win I’m not sure if things will calm down. There’s always something going on at this club,’ Koeman said in a press conference on Friday.
Ronald Koeman said there is ‘always criticism’ at Barcelona and his players need to ignore it
Barcelona toiled heavily in their 2-1 win against a massively depleted Dynamo Kiev team
Barcelona are languishing in 12th place in LaLiga following an abject start to the season in which they have won only two of six games played so far. Koeman’s men host Real Betis on Saturday and seek a first win in five games.
‘Teams like Barca need to be near the top of the table all the time and if they are, then there is always criticism,’ he said.
‘I can handle the criticism but we cannot become obsessed by it. It’s a long season and we should take each game as it comes.
His on-field issues over the commitment of Lionel Messi refuse to go away, with the superstar the subject of more negative scrutiny following a perceived lack of effort in Barcelona’s laboured 2-1 win over Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League.
Lionel Messi continues to grab headlines over his lack of commitment at Barcelona this season
Koeman admitted the team struggled against Dynamo, who managed seven shots on target despite having a paltry squad of 13 players to choose from after nine of their players tested positive for Covid-19.
‘The main problem was in midfield where we didn’t have much control, so it was more difficult to control the game and our defence had a lot of problems,’ he said.
‘We need to play well [against Betis] and improve defensively compared to what we did against Dynamo. We need to be more concentrated and more organised and we’ve been working hard on that in training.’
Also taking centre stage are the forthcoming presidential elections following the resignation of Josep Maria Bartomeu. This week Victor Font, favourite to replace Bartomeu, announced that Toni Nadal, uncle of tennis legend and Real Madrid fan Rafa, has joined his election team.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen will make his first LaLiga appearance this season following surgery
Behind the politics is the staggering crisis of Barca’s finances. The club has a whopping £720million of debt and an astonishing £1billion wage bill, the biggest in the world.
This has led to fraught talks with the players over asking them to take pay cuts.
The manager does have some positive news with first-choice goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen playing his first LaLiga match this season since recovering from knee surgery.
Ter Stegen was one of few bright sparks for Barcelona against Dynamo, producing several impressive saves.
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