Barca appoint Koeman as new coach to lead recovery

Published August 20, 2020
BARCELONA coach Ronald Koeman signs the contract as he is pictured on a big screen with president Josep Maria Bartomeu during the unveiling on Wednesday.--Reuters
BARCELONA coach Ronald Koeman signs the contract as he is pictured on a big screen with president Josep Maria Bartomeu during the unveiling on Wednesday.--Reuters

BARCELONA: Barcelona have appointed Ronald Koeman as their next coach, the club said in a statement on Wednesday, as the Catalans look to rebuild after their 8-2 thrashing by Bayern Munich in the Champions League last week.

Koeman, who has left his role as manager of the Netherlands, has signed a two-year-deal with Barca, who sacked Quique Setien on Monday after he presided over the club’s worst defeat ever in European competition and a first trophy-less season for the club since the 2007-08 campaign.

Earlier on Tuesday sporting director Eric Abidal was axed, paying the price for the Bayern trouncing and internal conflict that took place during a league season that saw them surrender the La Liga title to Real Madrid.

Ex-France international Abidal was replaced Wednesday by Ramon Planes.

Koeman is dearly loved at Barca for his role in Johan Cruyff’s hugely successful side known as the ‘Dream Team’ and for scoring the goal that delivered the club’s first ever European Cup in 1992.

The defender later became the club’s assistant coach before embarking on a career as a head coach, managing Dutch sides Ajax Amsterdam, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord plus Premier League sides Southampton and Everton and La Liga’s Valencia.

“Barcelona and Ronald Koeman have come to an agreement for him to be the team’s coach until 30 June 2022,” said Barca’s statement. “A club legend and Barca’s hero at Wembley who gave fans their first European Cup, Koeman is coming back to the Camp Nou. But this time he will be in the dugout to lead the team.”

Koeman has frequently been linked with the Barca job in the past, in spite of a somewhat patchy club record which included disappointing stints at Valencia and Everton.

But he worked wonders with the Dutch national team, leading them to 2019 UEFA Nations League final as well as earning qualification to the postponed European Championships after they had failed to reach Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup. “Over the past two and a half years, I have done everything I can to achieve success with the team,” Koeman told the website of the Netherlands’ soccer association, the KNVB.

“I look back with pride on what we have achieved together in that period. The Dutch national team has a bright future, I am convinced of that. Everyone knows that Barcelona is my dream club. It feels very special to me to be able to become a coach there.”

Published in Dawn, August 20th, 2020

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