The pressure continues to mount on Ronald Koeman after his Barcelona side lost the first Clasico of the season against Real Madrid at the Nou Camp on Sunday.
Barcelona are now ninth in La Liga and Koeman is the first manager to lose three Clasico games in a row in over 85 years. Koeman has come under scrutiny in the wake of the team’s mediocre results, leading to speculation over his future at the club.
The Dutchman came out in the press following the loss to claim his side are improving despite the result, but La Liga TV presenter Semra Hunter told Sky Sports: “With respect to Koeman, I do believe he was just saving face because he almost has to.
“Barcelona were inferior and Real Madrid were a cut above them. There’s no denying that. Koeman tried to put a stop to Madrid from the outset, putting Sergino Dest out wide as a winger, doubling up with Oscar Mingueza – who’s actually a central defender playing out wide as the right full-back.
“The idea was to stop the pace and skill of Vinicius Junior coming down the left but 60 per cent of Real Madrid’s attacks came down this side.
“Barcelona started quite well and were pressing exceptionally high and just about every single one of their players was inside the opposition half but the problem was it left them dangerously exposed at the back.
“Real Madrid are a classic counter-attacking side and both of their goals came from quick transitions, exploiting all of the space they had behind the Barcelona defence.
“It’s worse that five of the goals Madrid have scored in the last three Clasicos have been scored in this exact same manner. Koeman hasn’t done enough to try to correct this. This is Madrid forte, their calling card, and Koeman has shown he hasn’t found the answers.
“Barcelona had made it too easy for Real in the first half so he dropped Mingueza at half-time and put Dest back to right-back. Philippe Coutinho was brought on in an attempt for more creativity but overall it was to little or no effect.”
Madrid celebrated their fourth win in a row in El Clasico, something which has not happened since 1965, but will Barcelona stick by Koeman for the time being?
“At the end of the day, a lot of the fans are upset and have been for quite some time,” Hunter continued. “This has been going on since pretty much the start of the season.
“Some people still feel he should have left in the summer, but the club haven’t been able to find a replacement. It comes down to that, but they have a lot of thinking to do right now.
“The club may have to see if they can come up with the money to pay off the severance package which could end up being in the ballpark of €18m (around £15m) to let go of Koeman.
“They would also need to try to find someone to replace him and up until this point, there is no one that’s been lined up next.
“Xavi Hernandez, a club legend, has expressed in public that he would one day like to manage Barcelona and that he’s willing and ready to come home as soon as he gets the call.
“He’d be happy to come back and take the job, but as of yet nothing has been said regarding any contact. For now, Koeman keeps his job but it’ll be interesting to see how they now react.
“If Barcelona want to compete with the elite, then they perhaps do need to bring somebody else in. In 10 games against some of the biggest clubs around – Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich for example in the Champions League – they’ve only won one with Koeman in charge.
“There’s a big gap behind some of those leading clubs that needs to be closed. The games have shown that Koeman maybe isn’t the right man for the job. It might just be that he’s the right man but just not at the right time.”
The club condemned the scenes outside the Nou Camp with supporters surrounding Koeman’s car and others seen previously jumping on the bonnet.
“I was surprised,” Hunter added. “I understand that fans are frustrated, they’re angry, they’re upset at seeing a team that is incapable of competing.
“Barcelona are ninth in the table and the fans feel it is a club in complete disarray. I get that, but it doesn’t give fans the right or justify any kind of behaviour such as this.
“They attacked Ronald Koeman as he was coming out of the Camp Nou, as he was trying to drive away. It made my stomach churn seeing that. This is not a fair reflection of the Barcelona fan base.
“It really is just a small minority that are making the fans look quite bad. Take a look at how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was treated last night.
“There were images on social media of him signing autographs in the car park. He took the time to speak with them and it was very calm and respectful.
“For Koeman, it was the complete opposite behaviour so I think you just have to show him a little bit more respect. He’s a club legend – whether you think he’s doing a good or bad job as the manager, no one should be treated like that. It was completely unacceptable.
“It’s a good thing that Barcelona have condemned it, they will look into security measures and disciplinary action to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.”
Koeman: I think we’re improving
Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman:
“I think the team did all they could to level up the match but we didn’t have much time after going 2-1 down. We’re disappointed with the result but not for what we did as a team.
“In today’s match, we showed that we are not inferior to Madrid, but instead of being 1-0 up, we went 1-0 down and this had a huge impact on the match.
“But I think we showed that little by little we are improving and that we are closer to winning a big match and that’s how it is.
“Normally in a Clasico, it means something more [than just losing three points] if you are Barcelona. I get this perfectly. But there’s no time to cry about it because on Wednesday we have another match.”
Both sides are next in action in La Liga on Wednesday, with Barcelona travelling to Rayo Vallecano (6pm), while Real host Osasuna (8.30pm).