Ronald Koeman has been sacked as head coach of Barcelona after 14 months in charge.
There had been massive speculation surrounding when Koeman may be fired after an abysmal start to the season, but last night’s 1-0 loss to Rayo Vallecano seemed to be the nail in the coffin.
The loss was Barca’s third in their past four games and it followed defeat by Real Madrid in Sunday’s Clasico.
Barca have picked up just 15 points from 10 games in La Liga and have already lost twice in the group stage of this season’s Champions League.
They are ninth in the table, six points adrift of the joint leaders Real Madrid, Sevilla, Real Betis and Real Sociedad.
A brief statement was released on the club’s website confirming president Joan Laporta had relieved the Dutchman of his duties as first-team coach.
“FC Barcelona has relieved Ronald Koeman of his duties as first-team coach. The president of the club, Joan Laporta, informed him of the decision after the defeat against Rayo Vallecano. Ronald Koeman will say goodbye to the squad on Thursday at the Ciutat Esportiva.
FC Barcelona wishes to thank him for his service to the Club and wishes him all the best in his professional career.”
Pressure had been building on the Dutchman since a 3-0 defeat at Benfica in late September, which made this season the club’s worst-ever start to a Champions League campaign.
They succumbed to a 2-0 away loss to Atletico Madrid in La Liga on October 2, with former forward Luis Suarez scoring the second goal at the Metropolitano Stadium, and they trail league frontrunners Real Madrid by six points in the table.
Their 2-1 loss to Real Madrid at the Nou Camp on October 24 was Koeman’s third El Clasico defeat in a row, and after the final whistle, the Barcelona boss was targeted by a crowd of fans who attacked his car as he tried to drive away from the stadium.
After the defeat on Wednesday, Koeman said: “It [Barcelona’s league position] says we’re not well.
“The team has lost balance in the squad, lost very effective players, which shows. In recent years other clubs have strengthened every season and we haven’t, which also shows.”
Koeman was appointed in August last year and in his first campaign led Barcelona to third place in La Liga and won the Copa del Rey.
But he has struggled in his second season following the departure of Lionel Messi, who left as a free agent in the summer to join Paris Saint-Germain.
Al Sadd coach Xavi Hernandez, who made 767 appearances for Barca as a player, has quickly emerged as the first option to replace the Dutchman, with Laporta keen to know what his demands would be.
In the meantime, Barca will appoint an interim coach for Saturday’s game against Alaves. B team boss Sergi Barjuan has been selected for the role.