April 20, 2021

Koeman frontrunner as Barca sack Setien

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Mauricio Pochettino also a strong candidate with Laurent Blanc, Xavi and Garcia Pimienta also under consideration

By Lyall Thomas

Last Updated: 17/08/20 7:17pm

Ronald Koeman is the frontrunner to be the next Barcelona manager after the club confirmed the sacking of Quique Setien.

Setien was sacked in a meeting with technical director Eric Abidal just days after the humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Koeman – a Barcelona great as a player – is said to be the preferred choice of president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Barcelona would need to pay compensation to get Ronald Koeman out of his job as Netherlands head coach Barcelona would need to pay compensation to get Ronald Koeman out of his job as Netherlands head coach

Barcelona would need to pay compensation to get Ronald Koeman out of his job as Netherlands head coach

Barca would need to pay compensation to get Koeman out of his current role as Netherlands head coach.

Ex-Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is also a strong candidate. He is the preferred choice of director Ramon Planes, with whom he worked at Espanyol.

However, the potential appointment of Pochettino has been met with opposition from ‘El Entorno’ – a term coined by Johan Cruyff in 1992 to describe the ‘environment’ of influential media and fans surrounding the team.

Mauricio Pochettino is also a strong candidate for the Barcelona job Mauricio Pochettino is also a strong candidate for the Barcelona job

Mauricio Pochettino is also a strong candidate for the Barcelona job

Pochettino is said to be interested in the job despite distancing himself in the past because of his legacy with Espanyol.

He recently did an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais in which he tried to make amends for previous comments. Pochettino was a prominent player and then head coach at Espanyol.

Some members of the Barca board also hold out hope of convincing Xavi to return to the club. He is currently in charge at Qatari side Al Sadd.

Other names in the frame include Laurent Blanc, who is another ex-Barca player, and Barca B head coach Garcia Pimienta.

Pique: The club needs change, nobody is safe

Gerard Pique after Barcelona's loss to Bayern Gerard Pique after Barcelona's loss to Bayern

Gerard Pique after Barcelona’s loss to Bayern

Gerard Pique called for wholesale changes at the Nou Camp following Friday’s humiliation in the Champions League, even suggesting his own departure to help the club rebuild.

“We can’t compete like that, you can’t play like that in Europe. It is not the first time, the second time or the third time, it’s very tough. I hope it is useful for something,” Pique told the club’s website after Friday’s defeat.

“Now everyone has to have a good look at themselves, the club needs change and I am not talking about the coach or the players. I am not pointing the finger at anyone.

“Nobody is safe – I am the first to say that I will go if new blood has to come in, I am the first to leave. We have to have a real look internally about what is best for the club.”

‘Xavi will arrive in a year’

Analysis by Spanish football expert Terry Gibson on Transfer Talk Podcast

“The elections are really prominent now in what happens at Barcelona. The elections are in a year’s time. Nobody is happy with the current board of people who run it, particularly Josep Bartomeu the president. He will be voted out. He can’t stay any longer anyway.

“That is the reason why Xavi turned the job down. Xavi is going to be on the ticket of one of the new campaigners to become the president. Therefore, Xavi doesn’t want to go in for a year with this president and not too many other managers want to go in knowing that in a year’s time a new president is going to be announced and when that new president makes his campaign, they will all have their managers that they’re putting on the ticket. Xavi if he backs one, that person will probably win.

“In a year’s time Xavi is going to be the manager of Barcelona. But which top manager in world football is really going to fancy babysitting the job for a year until the new president comes in, and you’re probably going to get fired.”

‘Barcelona need some new blood’

Analysis by Spanish football expert Terry Gibson on Transfer Talk Podcast

“Barcelona have to make some changes. Their squad isn’t big enough. In the second half of the season it was down to 19 senior players. They have struggled to fill the bench in La Liga games with the allowed amount of substitutions.

“The last La Liga game of the season they had five subs on the bench and two of them were goalkeepers. Three players got injured and were replaced and the next outfield player to come on as a sub was going to be [Marc-Andre] ter Stegen.

“That’s how short of numbers they were. They had suspensions, injuries and the B team had a play-off match coming up. There’s no way Barcelona should be going into games with only three outfield subsitutues.

“They need bodies. They’ve suffered with the fact [Ousmane] Dembele and [Samuel] Umtiti haven’t played enough football for Barcelona this season. Riqui Puig and Ansu Fati have bolstered the squad and that’s been a big plus – in this time of need, two young players have risen through the ranks and shown their worth.”

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