By Stefan Coerts | Dutch Football Editor
Barcelona have become renowned for their excellent youth academy and their attacking style of play in recent years, but the Catalan giants have much more to offer as they also appear to boast a successful nurturing ground for those with coaching ambitions.
The most famous example is the club's current first-team coach Pep Guardiola, who is widely regarded as one of the best in the profession, and he learned his trade at Camp Nou. However, the 41-year-old is not the only one with a history at Barcelona who is holding a coaching position in one of Europe's major leagues.
His former team-mate Luis Enrique is currently in charge of Serie A outfit Roma, while Frank de Boer has been Ajax coach for 14 months now. That's not all. Another member of the 1998-99 Barcelona squad has recently signed up to the coaching hot-seat as PSV caretaker boss Phillip Cocu joins his peers.
The former Netherlands international had been an assistant coach in Eindhoven since 2009, and recently conceded that he didn't feel ready to become the head trainer. Nevertheless, Cocu was obliged to accept when PSV asked him earlier this month to replace the sacked Fred Rutten until the end of the season.
Whereas his former Barcelona team-mates got their coaching careers off to an impressive start, with both De Boer and Guardiola winning silverware at Ajax and Barcelona respectively, Cocu could be in for a disappointing maiden campaign at PSV.
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The Eindhoven side were in miserable form when the 41-year-old took over ahead of the second leg of the Europa League round of 16 tie versus Valencia, and were unsurprisingly eliminated in Cocu's first game at the helm.
Although there was little he could do about PSV's European exit so soon after replacing Rutten on the bench, more disappointment could be waiting for the former Barcelona midfielder in the remainder of the campaign.
Cocu faces a difficult task to guide the Boeren to their first Eredivisie title since 2008, and although PSV impressed on the young coach's league debut with a 5-1 win over Heerenveen, success come May seems to be a long shot.
PSV might still sit fourth in the league table, only two points off the pace, but they have lost three of their last five Eredivisie games, and with an away clash at Ajax on the cards on Sunday afternoon, the Eindhoven giants could effectively be out of the title race - if they lose in the Amsterdam ArenA - only 10 days after Cocu's arrival.
|Although there was little Cocu could do about PSV's European exit so soon after replacing Rutten on the bench, more disappointment could be waiting for the former Barcelona midfielder|
Cocu will be determined to avoid this nightmare scenario, but it is by no means an impossible plot. With five players in his squad having scored more than 10 goals in 2011-12, the freshly-appointed coach has little reason to worry about his side's attacking prowess. However, PSV's defensive record can easily be described as disastrous as the Eredivisie giants have been unable to keep a clean sheet in their last 18 official games. Additionally, they have already conceded 38 goals in 26 Eredivisie matches, a defensive record bettered by seven teams.
Although one can only respect Cocu's loyalty and love for the club when he accepted PSV's offer to take charge against his will, it could prove to be an unwise decision by the former Barca man. Failure to qualify for the Champions League would mean that the young trainer starts his coaching career on a disappointing note, regardless of an eventual KNVB Beker success.
Nobody will blame Cocu for such an outcome, and the 41-year-old will move out of the spotlight again at the end of the 2011-12 campaign to make way for a high-profile name.
It would have been wiser for him to stick to his principles and insist that he wasn't ready for the job. Having to succumb to the club's pressure and reluctantly accept an offer could have serious consequences for the future of his coaching career.
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