Under-pressure Koeman’s plea for patience

Under-pressure Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman pleaded for patience in an unusual press conference on Wednesday, amid mounting doubt over his future at the Nou Camp.

President Joan Laporta and the club’s board are considering Koeman’s position after a disappointing start to the season, including the home defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League followed by last weekend’s draw with Granada.

The next few games will be critical for the Dutchman, as widespread reports in Spain claim Laporta is lining-up Belgium manager Roberto Martinez, and Koeman came out fighting in a news conference in which he read out his statement, took no questions, then left.

He said: “The club is with me in this period of reconstruction. We have to reconstruct the team as a squad without making big investments and this takes time.

“The young talents we have can become world stars in a couple of years. The young players will have opportunities, just as Xavi and (Andres) Iniesta had in their day, but we ask for patience.

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La Liga expert Semra Hunter says Barcelona’s performance in the 1-1 with Granada demonstrated that the club has lost its identity

“Finishing high in the table would be a success on its own and in the Champions League we cannot expect miracles. The defeat against Bayern should be taken with perspective.

“The team should be supported, with words and with actions.”

In reaction, Laporta is quoted in Spain as saying “we found out at the last minute that Koeman intended to make this statement. He has the obligation to attend press conferences and is very free to answer questions or express as he considers”.

Laporta is said to have had a long-term vision for Barca that does not include Koeman as head coach since his election campaign began in 2020. He has previously spoken of his admiration for former Barca midfielder and current manager of Qatar Stars League club Al Sadd Xavi.

Talks over a new contract for Koeman had been held last month but have not progressed for more than three weeks, with his Lionel Messi-less Barcelona currently eighth in La Liga after two wins from their opening four league games.

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