Barcelona’s problems are down to a ‘DICTATORSHIP of players’, claims ex-director Toni Freixa and he says any replacement for Ronald Koeman that isn’t Xavi ‘will NOT be respected’
- Barcelona lost 3-0 to Benfica as Ronald Koeman’s grip on his job loosened
- Toni Freixa feels Barcelona’s players haven’t trained properly ‘for a long time’
- He claims the only respected bosses have been Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola
- Freixa also attacked ex-president Josep Bartomeu for pandering to the players
- A number of replacements have been mooted, including Xavi and Andrea Pirlo
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.
Ronald Koeman’s job at Barcelona is hanging by a thread after a woeful 3-0 defeat at Benfica
Koeman has clashed with the club’s president Joan Laporte over the team’s style of play
However, former Barca director Toni Freixa (right) has defended Koeman amid a club crisis
‘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 delivering trophies.
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.
Freixa claims Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola were the only Barca bosses that were respected
The former Barcelona president believes only Xavi would get similar respect at the Nou Camp
‘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 Gallardo.
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.’
Koeman flew back with Laporta after the Benfica loss – but the pair did not speak to each other
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.
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