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Koeman: Barcelona haven't improved their standing under Xavi

Ronald Koeman has defended his tenure as Barcelona coach, saying he never received adequate support from the board and suggested they are not better off with his successor, Xavi.

Koeman was dismissed in October after less than 18 months in charge with the club ninth in La Liga and six points behind leaders Real Madrid.

Xavi was confirmed as his replacement the following month and has lifted the club up to second in the table, though they are currently 15 points behind rivals Real Madrid, who could clinch the title this weekend.

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What did Koeman say about his time at Barca?

Koeman could only guide Barca to a third-place finish in his only full season in charge before being dismissed after picking up just 15 points from the first 10 games of the 2021-22 campaign.

His time at the club was overshadowed by the club’s financial problems, which restricted their activity in the transfer market and ultimately led to the departure of Lionel Messi last summer.

There was also the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic which forced many matches behind closed doors and the return of Joan Laporta as president.

"I can write a book [about my time at Barca]. Many things happened to us,” Koeman told a news conference.

“Covid issue, lack of president for a while, I had to answer all kinds of questions, not being able to sign the players we wanted, [financial] fair play complications, without Leo Messi from one day to another, losing [Antoine] Griezmann on the last day of the market.”

What did Koeman say about Xavi?

Koeman was keen to stress his support for Xavi when asked about the impact his successor has had at Camp Nou, though he did point out the larger gap between themselves and champions-elect Real Madrid.

“Sure, they have improved in some things. They have signed three strikers or three players who can play up front,” he said.

“It is not good to compare. When I left, Barcelona was eight points away and now almost double. It is not good to compare.

“Xavi's task It's just as complicated as me. This is the reality of Barcelona today. It needs time to return to what it was and, therefore, I ask for peace of mind and not to think that we haven't won titles. We have to think long-term, trust and support the coach.”

What did Koeman say about Laporta?

Koeman was critical of Barca president Laporta, who he believes did not offer him enough support, particularly when publicly questioning his future last summer.

“It's true that Barca's situation is the same as it was with me. That means that changing a coach is not always something that guarantees you to improve,” he said.

“I don't want to make any criticism. The only thing I ask is to support Xavi. A coach is not the only culprit. I didn’t have the full support of the president and I hope he has learned from this and supports Xavi.

"The club's situation hurts me, it's sad because I'm a cule. I ask for maximum support for Xavi, he's a legend, a very good coach and little to blame for Barcelona being in this situation".

Asked about his relationship with Laporta, Koeman said: “I have not spoken much out of respect for the club. It is not good that I have to answer questions of this kind every time.

“I have felt, in other clubs, especially in two years as a coach, that we know exactly the risk of being a coach: If things don't work as the club thinks, they can kick you out.

“But, for me, the president left doubts. Off the record [he] said ‘I don't know if he continues, we have doubts. It's not good’.

"We have to speak clearly in private, but defend the coach in public. If you don't support your coach, it's even more complicated."

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