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Sport

Soccer-Institutional turmoil keeping Koeman in Barca job despite dire results

BARCELONA (Reuters) - In normal times, a coach responsible for Barcelona’s worst campaign so far in 33 years and an abysmal home defeat by a European rival would be on the chopping board and packing their bags.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Group G - FC Barcelona v Juventus - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - December 8, 2020 FC Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman reacts REUTERS/Albert Gea

But even after Tuesday’s limp 3-0 loss to Juventus, Ronald Koeman’s job remains safe for the next two months due to the institutional uncertainty caused by president Josep Maria Bartomeu’s recent resignation.

Since Bartomeu stepped down in October, the club has been run by interim president Carles Tusquets and a management committee, which the club’s statutes say can only carry out “actions that are necessary and essential to maintain the club’s normal activities and protect its interests”.

Hiring and firing coaches is not within the mandate of the commission, whose primary role is to organise the next presidential election, which is taking place on Jan. 24.

Indeed, influential media pundits have criticised Tusquets for overstepping his role and discussing the club’s affairs in public, such as saying in a recent interview that Lionel Messi should have been sold in the summer.

Koeman also hit out at Tusquets for discussing Messi’s future in the media but privately, the Dutchman must be grateful for the club’s delicate situation, which is sparing him the sack.

After all, Barcelona sacked Ernesto Valverde last January when the team was top of the table and had recently won consecutive La Liga titles.

Quique Setien was then dismissed for failing to win the title and after the team’s humiliating 8-2 defeat in the Champions League by Bayern Munich.

Koeman has a far greater standing among fans due to his successful career as a Barca player and for being the man who scored the goal which delivered their first ever European Cup in 1992.

But his coaching record is looking far worse than that of his two predecessors.

They have lost four out of 10 La Liga matches and trail leaders Atletico Madrid by 12 points, while the defeat by Juve meant Barca failed to finish top of their Champions League group for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

He now has a little under two months to turn things around and convince whoever wins the January election that he is worth sticking with.

Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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