Barcelona under Ronald Koeman has always been a reconstruction project. With several experienced players leaving last summer, and not many ready-made replacements brought in, we knew it would take time. In addition, the coach carried out a new formation. Youngsters and new faces are still being added to the mix, and so far it’s only a relatively small number of times he’s had to put it all together.
It is normal for Koeman to ask for patience at this point. And he can point to a few games and a few moments when the team looked stronger than before. But at the moment Barcelona is in 12th place after having played eight games. Sure enough, the Catalans have played two fewer games than some teams and could theoretically jump to the top four with two wins. However, the fact that the form guide is so grim (one win in the last six league games) should tell you that this is not a given at all.
Atlético Madrid are one of the better teams in La Liga again this year and Barcelona looked pretty bad against them, even though the result was only 1-0.
Switching coaches and switching coaches cannot solve the structural problems of the team, and firing a third coach within one year is an option that can only be used in serious emergencies. Given the extenuating circumstances, Koeman will be given a little more patience. But for how long?
The pressure from Barcelona is disorganized and the defense sometimes seems extremely easy to get around. This is not just about individual players, although some can be substituted, but the team as a whole. As a unit, it makes too many mistakes and can be easily undone by even simple maneuvers.
Buildup was also a problem coming out and it seems that there are no good solutions to what is now a long standing problem.
In an attack, the team has flair and can score, but only, it seems, on certain days. Against more disciplined opponents, odds are hard to come by and Barcelona can be frustrated. Koeman hasn’t figured out how to unlock a team if they resist, and he’s gone on to add more and more forwards from the bench, with little success.
With a few good results, the story could change and it is not impossible that this season could end successfully. As things stand now, incredible as it may seem, it can be challenging for Barcelona to even finish in the top four. And unless the team has a consistent improvement pattern, the pressure on Koeman will only increase.