Former Barcelona director and candidate for the
presidency Toni Freixa has defended Ronald Koeman
and claimed the club has lived under a ‘dictatorship’
of its top players for years.
Freixa told Spanish radio Cope: ‘Barcelona is a
manager shredder. Koeman needs support.
He has a good staff but it’s not easy with the
deficiencies the club has right now.
‘The only coaches who have been respected at
Barcelona are [Johan] Cruyff and [Pep] Guardiola.
If Xavi comes now, he will also be respected.
And if Xavi doesn’t come, then it doesn’t matter who
the new coach is he will not be respected.
They [Cruyff and Guardiola] are the best two coaches
in the history of Barcelona, but Ernesto Valverde won
league and cup doubles and they never stopped
questioning him. They criticised Luis Enrique and he
won a treble.’
Freixa then suggested the top players have run the
club for years, which only worked when they were
He told Cope’s ‘El Partidazo’:
‘Barcelona has suffered in the last five seasons the
dictatorship of players who have won absolutely everything.
‘For a long time now the team has not trained
properly. For a long time now the coach is not the
[maximum] authority. That’s the real problem of Barcelona.
‘I spoke some years ago to someone on the board
under [Josep] Bartomeu and he told me the coach at
Barcelona only had two objectives: that the players
didn’t get injured and that they didn’t get upset.
That was the approach.
They train according to what the bosses of the
dressing room say. And for a long time that was
enough to win, but when time catches up with these
players and they can’t reach the levels that they had
always reached, it’s not enough.’
Asked who he preferred to replace Koeman, Freixa
refused to pick a candidate from the shortlist of
Roberto Martinez, Andrea Pirlo, Xavi and Marcelo
He added: ‘The project has to based on the club
supporting the manager and giving him the
necessary support so he can do the job. Isolating him
is a bad idea.’
Diario Sport reported Friday that on the plane home
from Lisbon after the 3-0 defeat to Benfica, Koeman
and his assistant Alfred Schroeder were sat in the
same row as president Joan Laporta but did not
speak to each other .
When Laporta arrived back in Barcelona, he met with
fellow directors at the club’s training ground until
4am to decide when to dismiss the Dutch coach.