Former Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has hit out at the club for not supporting him during his time in charge and has highlighted that they are now even further behind Real Madrid in La Liga than when he was sacked in late October.
Against a backdrop of extraordinarily difficult financial circumstances, which saw the club forced to release Lionel Messi among other things, a disastrous start to the season saw Koeman given the boot after the club won only four of their opening 11 La Liga games and were embarrassed by Bayern Munich and Benfica in their first two Champions League group stage matchdays.
Those results meant Barça were treading water in ninth place in the Spanish top flight, at the same time as Real were top of the pile, eight points ahead.
There was an eventual return to form under Xavi, which saw the Blaugrana take 32 points from a possible 36 in La Liga from the start of 2022 until mid-April – including a run of seven consecutive wins. But Real Madrid’s own form combined with recent defeats means the gap to Los Blancos at the top is now far bigger than it ever was under Koeman earlier in the season.
“When I left, we were eight points away, now [the gap is] almost double,” he said this week.
Indeed, Barça trail Real by 15 points with only five games of the season left to play – just a point for Real in their next game will secure them the title.
But despite his apparent bitterness about Barça being comparatively worse off now, Koeman insists Xavi needs full support from the club – he even threw in a dig that he wasn’t given that backing himself when it was absolutely needed.
“I ask for all the support for Xavi,” the Dutchman said.
“I hope that the president does give him all the support that I haven't had. Xavi is a Barça legend and he deserves trust. He is not to blame for how the club is doing.”