Ronald Koeman lays down his doctrine. In his press conference after being officially presented today as new coach of FC Barcelona, the Dutch manager avoided giving many names but did deliver two succinct sentences: "I will only work with people who want to be here and who want to give their best to the club. If decisions have to be made, we will make them,” he said.
The role of Messi
Koeman, returning as a manager to the turf he trod as a member of Johan Cruyff's Dream Team of the 90s, did not want to get into player-by-players evaluations today, but the Dutchman did not hesitate to address some words to Leo Messi - after some sources had asserted that the Argentinian star considered saying goodbye to Barça after Friday's disastrous defeat to Bayern Munich.
"I don't know if I have to convince him. And of course, he is the best player in the world, and you want to have him on your team and not playing against you. As a coach I would love to work with him. Messi wins you games. I will be very happy if he wants to stay. He has a contract. He's also captain. So it's a matter of talking to him and making decisions," he said. Statements that make it clear that Koeman is counting on having the 'number 10' in his squad.
Dressing room clean-out?
On the other hand, Koeman has not categorically stated that he will hold a fire sale on the contents of the Catalan dressing room, as had been speculated. "I'm not coming to change the vertebral structure of the team. A thirty-year-old player isn't finished; you have to know if he's hungry. There are also people in their twenties who are hungry and able to work. We have to look for the best team to win games," he said. .
"I'm not going to talk about signings, about players who aren't here, what we have to do is look at our squad, and first ask: who have we got here?" said the Dutchman whose famous 1992 goal from a free kick gave Barça its first European Cup.
But one of the pillars of his new Barça will undoubtedly be Frenkie de Jong, whom he has already coached in the Dutch national team. Koeman noted that the 23-year-old midfielder "has played many games, but not in his position."
In any case, the coach says he will also look to La Masia, Barça's youth academy whose past graduates include Messi, Xavi and Pep Guardiola. "We will put the youngsters in the team when they deserve it. There is quality. What this team needs to change is the intensity," he said.
The Koeman commitment
Finally, Koeman also spoke about his football philosophy. So far, the coach has not limited himself to a single schema for his team, but today he did express some of his foundational ideas: "I'm Dutch, the Dutch like to have the ball. I always want to have it, play good football and win games. I've been a coach for many years now, as a player I've learned a lot from coaches, I have experience and I think I'm capable of coming to this club. Football is to be enjoyed, this is the first thing I will tell the players. We must be proud to be at Barça".
And finally, given the club's current turbulence both on and off the field, there is also the question of whether the coach, who has a two-year contract, will change when the president changes in next March's election. Unsurprisingly, Ronald is committed to staying. “I will only devote energy to things that are in my hands,” he summed up.