Ronald Koeman (The Netherlands, 21-3-1963) is legend in Barça. A few days after the 25th anniversary of the first Barça European Cup, the Everton coach speaks of his experience in England, his Barça, the options to sit on the bench of the Camp Nou, Messi, futuribles … Of the club azulgrana, that is one of his great passions.
He looks happy in England. Tell us about your experience in the Premier League.
The league here is very strong. There is a lot of intensity in the games. On the one hand, it is a very physical championship. On the other hand, the teams have players of a very high quality. It is a very competitive league, you can win or lose against any team.
How was your transition from Southampton to Everton?
My first two years in Southampton were very important because of the experience I acquired. To be in the Premier League. Everton is a different club, with more history and more intensity to win things due to its past. I’m very happy here, really.
The adaptation of Pep Guardiola to Manchester City was much more complicated. What do you think of the harsh criticism he has received from the English press?
I think being a coach at Manchester City is very nice. He has always had an interest in being a Premier League coach. You can not always win. His career at Barça and at Bayern Munich was very good and here it has been more complicated.
What are the biggest challenges that presented the English league to Pep?
The intensity of the parties and the great physical level of the opposites. It has encountered a more complicated situation than the previous ones, but one has to learn from things. I believe that to this day he is the ideal person for his position. He is in a club with many possibilities for improvement. Next season will be better than this for him.
Let’s talk about Barca. How did the last Classic win in the Bernabeu?
It is an important game, very beautiful to see. I think Barca was very good. Messi was the key of the match. He was at his best level and when he is at his best he can not be stopped.
Do you see Barça able to conquer this league?
It’s complicated. Madrid are a team that is very strong but their schedule, in my opinion, is more difficult than that of Barca. In the classification there is not so much distance. With this Barça everything is possible.
Madrid and Juventus are in favor to be in the final of the Champions League. Do you have a favorite?
In principle, I think the final will be Madrid against Juventus. Juventus right now is a very strong team, which is going through a great moment. It will be a very good match because it is very difficult to win the Italians. In either case, both teams deserve to be in the final.
The trident of Barça could not pass the quarterfinals. In spite of everything, do you consider that it is the best attack in the world? What do you expect of them in the future?
Definitely. They are players who have many years ahead. All three have let the world see its qualities as attackers. Suárez has scored many goals. Neymar is very young, I am sure he will go better in the next season and Messi is the best in the world, always makes the difference. As opponents, they are very tough. They give a lot of work.
Do you think it’s complicated to deal with a bench that has three stars of this size?
I do not know. In order to answer this type of question one has to know the players better. I think that a coach always has to make the decisions that are the best for the team and that is always complicated at the individual level of the players. I think that, despite the complications that can be had, it is nice to have this type of players in your team.
Barça have not yet announced who will succeed Luis Enrique. Its name appears in the quinielas. Would you like to train Barca?
Everyone knows the answer to that question. Of course I would.
Could his style as a coach fit the Barça?
What I think is not important. I do not decide on this subject. It’s complicated for me. I’m at Everton and I have to respect the club, my contract and my work here. The future will tell.
You who have been in the club as a player and also in the coaching staff with Van Gaal. What qualities should the next coach of the club meet?
Experience, know the house and the way that Barca wants to play. And most importantly, but for a coach of any team, they are able to get the most out of their players.
Is it important that you have DNA Barça?
Yes. Because it is a sometimes complicated club, it is important to know the house well, to be familiar with the game system. The coach should be a fan of playing with an offensive system, to attack.
Robert Fernandez has announced that the club will play Deulofeu again. You trained him in the first half of this season at Everton.
Do you think Gerard could fit into Barca?
Totally. He has already been to Barca and knows perfectly what the team needs. To this day, he is still an Everton player. He went to Milan to have more minutes on the pitch. He is a very young player and we have to decide what to do with him at the end of the season.
Finally, you have had Philippe Coutinho in Liverpool in the last few years. He is another of Barça’s favorites for the future. Do you see him triumphing at the Camp Nou if he finishes signing?
He is a great player, I also think he could fit well in Barca. It all depends on many factors and their adaptation. But, without a doubt, it counts on quality.