When Joan Laporta was elected Barcelona president in March, one of the first things he did was make it abundantly clear that Ronald Koeman did not figure in his long-term plans.
Six months later, he suggested he was on the verge of extending the Dutch manager’s contract for a further year.
But six months and two weeks later, it now looks as if the only thing keeping Koeman in the job is the fact he would be due a huge pay-off. And that he is the focus of attention – useful to the board in a time of crisis.
What on earth could have occurred to bring about this lack of balanced thinking from Laporta?
Unsurprisingly, money has a lot to do with it, or in the case of Barcelona, the lack of it.
Let’s not mince our words here. Barcelona are skint, potless, brassic, broke. The finances dictate a lot of what is being decided.
But the situation is becoming so tense between the president and the manager that the club are looking for alternatives and, depending on the next few results, they might have to use a big chunk of their small savings to get rid of a manager who does not follow the official line because he feels betrayed.
Roberto Martinez, who wants to continue with Belgium at least until the end of the Nations League campaign, is one of the candidates to replace him.
So how did we get to this point?
Laporta and Koeman met before the start of this season. At the lunch, Laporta asked the Dutchman to give him 14 days to decide whether or not the club would continue to have him as their manager or, to put it a slightly different way, 14 days to see if they could find anyone they fancied for the job more than him.
Koeman’s agent, Rob Jansen, summed it up perfectly: “Imagine: I want to marry you, but I have doubts. Give me two weeks to find a better partner. If I can’t find the right person, we will get married anyway!”
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