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02nd Oct 2021

Barcelona club president says Ronald Koeman will remain as manager

Daniel Brown

“He’ll stay on and deserves a margin of confidence”

Barcelona club president Joan Laporta has stated that Ronald Koeman will remain as Barcelona manager and “deserves a margin of confidence”.

Koeman was reportedly close to being sacked following Barca’s 3-0 Champions League defeat against Benfica in midweek.

Despite much speculation around the Dutchman’s future, Laporta was quick to publicly defend this manager and claimed that he would be given the ‘benefit of the doubt’.

He said: “Koeman will continue as Barca coach. He has the benefit of the doubt regardless of today’s [29 September] result.”

The Catalan giants face reigning champions Atletico Madrid on Saturday, looking to reduce the five-point gap that Real Madrid currently hold over them. 

Speaking on Saturday ahead of the match, Laporta added: “We understand that he deserves a bit of margin for many reasons: He’s a Barca fan and legend for fans all over the world. He’ll stay on and deserves a margin of confidence.

“He loves Barca and decided to come here in a really tough time both institutionally and on a sporting front.

“After talking to him, I can see he’s got faith in the team … We spoke and it’s not true that we’ve got a tense relationship – it’s good and honest. I think we both think the same, to turn things round.”

Considering the poor start to both Barcelona’s Champions League and La Liga campaign, the former Southampton and Everton manager has faced multiple questions about his future in the hot-seat.

However, it is a topic that he has quickly grown “fed up” with.

“Nobody has said anything to me,” he said, speaking about his future on Friday.

“The president was here but I haven’t seen him because we were preparing for tomorrow’s game.

“I am still here, but I have eyes and ears and a lot of things filter through.

“I am fed up of having to defend myself. It makes no sense. Today is not the time, but one day I would like to talk all about what I think of all this.”

His relationship with Laporta has appeared to be a tense and fragile one ever since Laporta was elected as club president in March.

When Koeman was asked a question about their relationship, his refused to answer and simply stated: “I am still here.”

The summer departure of Lionel Messi has had an obvious impact on the fortunes of Barca, who have drawn three of their six league games.

When asked by a journalist what had been his best and worst moment since beginning his reign at the Camp Nou, Koeman replied: “The best moment? When I signed to become Barca coach. The worst moment? When Messi left.”

Spanish football expert Guillem Balague told BBC Sport on Thursday that it is “just a matter of time” before Koeman is sacked.

“Timing is of the essence, not only to get rid of Koeman but also to get a plan in place,” said Balague.

Saturday’s tie against Atletico could prove to a pivotal moment in the season for both Barcelona and Koeman, who, after being named manager just over a year ago, might just be facing his last game in the hot-seat.

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