Friday, 24/09/2021 07:44

Time for Barca to stop living in the past

BORROWED TIME: Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman may soon be out of a job. AFP/VNA Photo

Paul Kennedy

It’s difficult to actually fathom what’s going on these days at Barcelona. The once giants of European football, a team of superstars that were a joy to watch, have now become nothing short of a laughing stock.

I get Messi has jumped ship, and I get that he didn’t really have a choice in the matter as the Barca bigwigs are desperate to save some cash.

Not that long ago, it was a frightening front three of Messi, Neymar and Suarez, with Iniesta and Xavi behind.

At the end of their disappointing draw with Granada this week, their forward line consisted of Manchester United reject Memphis Depay and centre-half Gerard Piqué deployed as a make-shift striker.

After four La Liga games they sit in eighth place with only eight points. Played four, won two, drew two. I know it’s only early days, but Real Madrid are currently eight points ahead at the top of the table.

Granted, the leaders have played two more games than the Catalonians, but at this point, do you really think Barcelona will be challenging for the title at the end of the season? I don’t.

I understand the pandemic sent the footballing world into a spin, but the same financial problems affected all teams, not just Barca.

After the draw with Granada, FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta has issued a new message on social media to fans worldwide.

"You can rest assured that the team will try to beat Cadiz,” the President reassured supporters ahead of their next game.

“But whatever happens in the next game, you need to keep calm. We know what needs to be done to solve this situation. We are Barça.”

His rallying cry got me thinking that there lies the problem. “We are Barca.”

In name, maybe, but on the pitch, nope, not at all. The only similarity left with the great teams of old is the colour of the kit.

It’s not good relying on the past. I should know that, because during the dark days of the 1990s, when Liverpool had such forgettable names in the side as Neil Ruddock, Julian Dicks and Bjorn Tore Kvarme, I was guilty of living in the past. Remembering days gone by and hoping the good times were just around the corner.

They were not.

Barcelona need to stop living in the past. They need to restructure, and do so as best they can within their limited budget.

Liverpool fans have starting singing a new song this season. The lyrics go: “The Reds have got no money, but we still won the league.”

Sure, the song is a little tongue in cheek and sung to wind up mega-rich clubs around them, but that’s what Barca need adopt as their new mantra.

And first thing they should do is get rid of manager Ronald Koeman. His playing style is more akin to Bolton than Barca, and he has already lost the backing of the supporters. Time for change.

Big Ron over the last ten years has managed Feyenoord, Southampton, Everton and the Dutch national team, with limited success.

Now he finds himself out of his depth as Barca boss and I think it’s fair to say his days are numbered.

Barca need to start again, from the bottom. A young manager with fresh ideas, and look at their youth set up to find the next Neymar rather than going out and buying Neymar.

By the time you read this column, Barcelona may well have beaten Cadiz, their next opponents. But if they do, it will be nothing short of an Elastoplast to heal a gaping gunshot wound. VNS

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