Ronald Koeman has said he finds it “strange” that his future as Barcelona coach is being linked to the result of Saturday’s Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao.
It has been a tumultuous debut season for the former Netherlands boss, who arrived at Camp Nou on a two-year contract in August.
The 58-year-old has overseen a transitional year at Camp Nou after succeeding Quique Setien as manager, dogged by inconsistent results and another disappointing Champions League campaign.
First up, he had to manage the fallout from Lionel Messi’s ultimately unsuccessful transfer request ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.
A failure to get past the last-16 stage in the UEFA Champions League was a major disappointment, but a superb recent run in La Liga has put them into title contention.
They did suffer a first defeat since early December against Real Madrid in El Clasico last weekend, but they are just two points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid with eight games remaining.
Ronald Koeman hit out at suggestions his future as Barcelona manager rests on winning the Copa del Rey.
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Up next is Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final on Sunday and, speaking at a pre-match media conference, a clearly exasperated Koeman did not hold back when asked if failure to secure the trophy would result in his dismissal.
“If you would like to hear my opinion about this, it’s a little bit strange that I need to answer questions like this,” he told reporters.
“We had a run of 19 games without losing, we lose one match and I need to talk about my future.
“Maybe I need to accept this, but I don’t agree. You have to do your job and talk to people in the club. I have one more year of my contract.
“I know before the game what will happen if we win and if we don’t win. I have to accept it. I took this job as a coach and I know there’s big pressure and I can handle that. Sometimes it’s a little bit strange.”
But despite many feeling that Koeman is not up to the task of managing Barça, they are very much in La Liga’s title race heading into the closing stages of the season and do have the chance to lift silverware in the Copa del Rey.
Barça are favourites to overcome Athletic – who lost the rescheduled 2019/20 Copa del Rey final to Basque rivals Real Sociedad just two weeks ago – but must overcome the fragilities they’ve shown in big games this season.