After success at international level and being without a club job for a whole season now, I jumped at the opportunity to become Barcelona’s new manager. I didn’t expect to jump to a huge club at all in this career but when Barcelona come knocking, you don’t pretend you’re not home.
Having a look at the recent history of the club, they haven’t won the Champions League since 2014 / 2015. This is good news for me as it now gives me a clear objective to achieve here at the Nou Camp.
For the past 9 seasons, Madrid and Barca have battled it out at the top of the league, with Barca winning 4 titles and Madrid 5. A hugely disappointing season last season saw Barca finish outside the top 3 for the first time since 2002 / 2003.
With a very, very healthy budget of 156 million., there is a lot of room for investment and reinforcements, however a quick look over the squad suggests we don’t need much. An exciting vision of the club is to build a new stadium. With the Nou Camp selling 80 thousand season tickets per season, a new stadium could well seat over 100 thousand fans.
La Liga have a rule in place with registration that you cannot exceed a squad salary of 5 million per week. So even though we have a lot of money to throw at transfers, we have to be very careful with our salary cap. It’s clear that the people in charge in the past few seasons have absolutely no problem throwing money at players. Eric Garcia, Alejandro Pozo, Frankie De Jong, Ronald Arujo, Pedri and Renato Sanchez are all pocketing 400k+ per week. Absolute staggering sums of money. Of a 25 man squad, only 11 of those are on below 100k a week. A long term vision of mine here will be to trim the wage bill and avoid any headaches when it comes to registration.
I’ve noted down a few things that I want to achieve here at Barcelona aside from what the board want me to do. In no particular order: 4 back to back league titles, at least 5 Champions Leagues, at least 1 Club World Cup, 3 Copa Del Rey’s, trim overall wage bill, be in charge to see in the new stadium (hoping they name it after me even though I won’t have been here long) and to sign Jude Bellingham.
There is quite a lot to do here in regard to staff, so that is task number one. It looks as if there was a mass exodus when Koeman left and there are a lot of vacancies to fill. Shouldn’t have an issue luring staff members of other clubs to Barcelona so this will be straight forward. I’ll remain loyal to two of my favourite coaches and bring John Terry over as a coach and Eddie Howe will be my assistant again.
The squad is pretty much set but we are absolutely crying out for a better goalkeeper and a striker. From my time with him at England I know Tony Birch is a very talented goalkeeper and has time on his side. However Diogo Costa is on the transfer list and could well be our number one target. My decision was made easier when Costa demanded 300k per week! So we brought in Tony Birch from Man City for 36m Euros and 175k a week. At the age of 24 this kid could well be the world’s best goalkeeper in a few years time.
At the back we have some excellent defenders who can all pass the ball. Ronald Araujo has spectacular mental abilities and at 6ft3, jumping reach and heading attributes of 17 could well notch a fair few goals from corners this season. Eric Garcia is also a fantastic defender to have in any back line. Again with great mental attributes and high pace, players like this allow teams to play a high line and play the game on their terms. A valuable asset to any club.
In the midfield we have the absolute all rounder Frenkie De Jong. At 33 he is certainly not slowing down and will be the absolute key to whatever this team does. With plans to play him as a Regista behind two midfielders, pretty much all of our build up play will go through Frenkie. We have an abundance of talent in the midfield area and looking at this squad I’m amazed they finished 4th last season. Manuel Ugarte is another player who can do the dirty work but pick a pass, Gavi is only 26 and already looks as though he could be the next Xavi or Iniesta with Passing at 17 and Vision at 18. Pedri also looks like the new Xavi or Iniesta and can thread balls through the eye of a needle. Pedri and Gavi are still in their mid 20s so we could well get some very, very successful years out of them.
In the attack positions we’re actually fairly light. Bernardo Silva is now 36 years old but still has incredible ability. The only thing he no longer possesses is pace and acceleration so we’ll have to use him as a playmaker in the wide areas in order to utilise his creativity. Leading the line at the minute is 33 year old Gabriel Jesus. His goal return since coming to Barca in 2028/2029 hasn’t been anything to call home about. His best return being in his sophomore year with 14 goals in 28 games. Attribute wise he still has all the ammo to be a fantastic player so it’s up to me to get the best out of him, but I will be bringing in reinforcements in his position.
Speaking of, Vlahovic was transfer listed at Chelsea and he absolutely is what we need right now. 17 finishing and great off the ball movement to accompany all other fantastic attributes, Vlahovic arrives at Barcelona for 57million Euros.
So here we go, a new season awaits. It feels like a long, long time ago I started my career at Hannover in Germany, and now I’m managing one of the greatest club’s in world football. A few goals to achieve and I will not be leaving until I have achieved them. We could be in for a very, very fun ride here in Catalunya.