“Ronald Koeman did not deserve such treatment”
Former USA ’94 semi-finalist Henrik Larsson will forever be a club legend for FC Barcelona for his short two-year appearance that was central to their success in the mid-2000s.
Arrived in 2004 under the watch of Frank Rijkaard, the Swede won two La Liga titles and the Champions League crown in 2006 in Catalonia after coming off the bench around the hour mark against Arsenal in the final in Paris and having helped lead a 2-1 comeback that saw Barca the kings of the continent for the first time since 1992.
The hero of victory that year at Wembley against Sampdoria was a certain Ronald Koeman, who scored the game-winning free-kick. And as the Dutchman’s assistant, Larsson returned to Camp Nou in 2020 but was unhappy with the way the manager was treated before being fired to make way for current tactician Xavi Hernandez last year.
“During the first season, everything was fine until March when we lost to Granada at home,” Larsson recalled of Sweden’s Fotbollskanalen. “After that, we felt there was less support from above, after [Joan] Laporta became president. And so on until summer. We went on holiday in the summer and I didn’t know if I was going to continue the following season,” Larsson added, with Lionel Messi’s departure to Paris Saint German also a reason for how ‘turbulent’ things were. .
“We made a decision on that very late,” Larsson said following their October dismissal. “It’s a shame. For me, it doesn’t matter too much, but to treat Ronald Koeman like that, he didn’t deserve it. After all the work we had done, the cleaning [out] Ronald had done to make things possible, I don’t think he deserved not to be told (that they were going to fire him),” the former striker explained.
Larsson also believes Koeman deserves more credit for the gems he discovered that are now thriving under Xavi, and in some cases Luis Enrique’s senior Spanish national team.
“There were a lot of players that Koeman/we promoted to the first team. Pedri, Gavi, Nico [González], players who will be great for Barcelona in the future. Ronald has done a fantastic job of giving young players a chance. He gave Barcelona a good base to build on,” concluded Larsson.