Sacking Koeman not the answer, insists De Jong after Barça crash at Benfica

A 3-0 defeat at Benfica in the Champions League heaped more pressure on Barcelona’s under-fire manager, Ronald Koeman, but the midfielder Frenkie de Jong said sacking him would not solve the club’s problems.

Barcelona have made a poor start to the season, languishing in sixth spot in La Liga, five points off the leaders, Real Madrid, and suffering back-to-back 3-0 defeats in the Champions League after losing their opener to Bayern Munich.

The Barcelona president, Joan Laporta, backed Koeman last week but said the board would not shirk tough decisions if they needed to be made.

“I don’t think changing the coach is the solution,” De Jong said. “I can’t talk about Koeman, it’s not my place. We have to keep fighting, stay together and overcome this situation. We can only escape this with hard work and being united as a team.”

Koeman said the players were still behind him but added that he did not know whether the board felt the same after the Benfica game.

“As I’ve said just the other day, regarding my future I can’t say anything,” Koeman said. “Because I don’t know what the club is thinking in this respect, and I don’t want to answer any more questions on this because it is not in my hands. We’ll see.”

Two goals from Darwin Núñez and a Rafa Silva strike gave Benfica a deserved win, but Koeman said the difference between the teams was that one took their chances and the other did not. “It’s a tough result to take, and it’s not what we saw on the pitch,” he said.

The result leaves Barcelona bottom of Group E, four points adrift of Benfica and one behind Dynamo Kyiv, who lost 5-0 at Bayern.