Ronald Koeman believes his first campaign in charge of Barcelona can be considered a positive one and is confident he will still be in charge next season. Barca beat Eibar 1-0 in their final La Liga game of the campaign on Saturday to finish third, five points behind Real Madrid and seven adrift of champions Atletico Madrid. The Catalans also exited the Champions League to Paris Saint-Germain at the last-16 stage, as well as losing to Athletic Bilbao in January’s Supercopa de Espana. Koeman’s side did exact revenge by beating Athletic in last month’s Copa del Rey final, though, and the Dutchman feels that trophy has salvaged this season.
“We have won many points in the league since the start of 2021 and won the cup in a brilliant way," Koeman said after the late win at Ipurua, DPA reports. “If you’d told me in August we’d win a trophy and be fighting for La Liga with two or three games to go, I would sign for it. It is not the best possible season, but you can’t ask for a double every year, or from a team that is still forming."
The 79 points collected by Koeman is the fewest of any Barcelona boss in their first 38 league games since Frank Rijkaard (72) in 2003-04.
This is the first season Barca have finished outside the top two since 2007-08 and the only time they have gone successive seasons without finishing top since between 2006 and 2008.
But Koeman, who hinted at a lack of support from those above him at his pre-match news conference, insists he is still at the start of a long-term process in Catalonia despite reports suggesting he will be replaced in the close season.
“I don’t think this is my last game," he said. “I have a contract and, I don’t know… you talk a lot about it, but I’m calm. If the club want to change something, they must talk to me."
“Many at the club agree with this. We are trying to improve the squad. There are older players, with all due respect, who can still give a lot.
Barca were heading for a goalless draw with Eibar before Antoine Griezmann fired in an impressive acrobatic winner nine minutes from time.
And like his head coach, Griezmann hopes Barca can strengthen their squad during the close season.
“We are hurting after missing out on the title. We have failed in some important games and have to rest and see where we can improve for next year," he told Movistar.