Suarez worsens Barcelona crisis, Koeman insists he will continue
Luis Suarez piled more misery on Barcelona by scoring in a 2-0 victory for Atletico Madrid on Saturday but Ronald Koeman insists he has the club’s support to continue as coach.
Barca president Joan Laporta had said a few hours before kick-off that Koeman would continue as coach regardless of the result at the Wanda Metropolitano, but another limp display will put that commitment to the test over the two-week international break.
Koeman confirmed after the game he spoke to Laporta on Friday night and Saturday morning.
He said he welcomed the clarity over his future, which he believes will benefit the team.
Clarity is very important, for the confidence of the coach, for the players too, for them to know the coach is still here, said Koeman.
He has made his decision, as he said this afternoon, so everything is perfect.
Goalscorer Suarez put his hands together and looked up to the sky in what was initially a muted celebration, out of respect for his former club, where he spent six years and scored 198 goals.
(It was) out of respect, love, for the journey, I had at Barca and for the period they’re in at the moment, for the fans as well, said Suarez after the game.
Suarez also made a telephone gesture and appeared to aim it at Koeman, perhaps referencing the abrupt manner Barca’s coach told him he was surplus to requirements at Camp Nou, just over a year ago.
That was for the people who think I’m still using the same number, said Suarez with a smile.
Thomas Lemar had already fired Atletico in front and, two down before half-time, Barcelona looked vulnerable to another hammering on the back of successive 3-0 defeats in the Champions League by Bayern Munich and Benfica.
They at least avoided more embarrassment in the second half and it remains to be seen now whether Laporta stays true to his word by giving Koeman more time to turn things around.
Xavi Hernandez, Roberto Martinez and Andrea Pirlo have reportedly been the names under consideration as replacements.
However, it is possible Laporta has found none of them are keen, with Barcelona bottom of their Champions League group and restricted to a spending limit of 97 million euros by La Liga, only the seventh highest in the division.
Barca sit ninth, while Atletico’s win takes them level on points with Real Madrid at the top of the table.