Ronald Koeman has come crashing back down to Earth at FC Barcelona.
On his watch, the Blaugrana were flying high with a perfect 5-0 record through preseason and their opening two La Liga fixtures.
The Joan Gamper trophy already guaranteed, Barça dismantled Villarreal 4-0 at the Camp Nou before going on the road to thrash Celta Vigo 0-3 in their first win at the Estadio de Balaidos in five years.
Then, on Sunday, Julen Lopetegui’s Europa League winners Sevilla visited the Catalan capital and managed to keep the hosts to a 1-1 draw in which they looked starved of ideas.
Over the course of the weekend, both pre and post-match, Koeman spoke of the need to make new signings with deadline day fast approaching.
Lionel Messi struggling in the false ‘9’ role, compatriot Memphis Depay had been long favored by the Dutchman as a replacement for Luis Suarez. However yesterday, Barça failed to sign a single player which of course means hometown boy Eric Garcia wasn’t landed from Manchester City either.
On Tuesday morning, following the midnight close of the transfer window until January, AS’ Barça correspondent Javi Miguel claims that Koeman has received a slap of “reality” heading forward into an action packed schedule as 2020 draws to a close.
With a threadbare squad of just 24 players, 14 of them have been used trustingly by the Dream Team legend while the rest – including big names such as Ousmane Dembele plus academy pearls Riqui Puig and Carles Alena – are clearly disposable.
Along the backline, Koeman worryingly has only three central defenders upon Jean-Clair Todibo being sent to Benfica on loan – though the young Frenchman has never been an integral part of neither his nor Ernesto Valverde’s plans.
Clement Lenglet and Gerard Pique the guaranteed starters, Samuel Umtiti cannot be counted on to put more than two games together before being ruled out injured, which puts immense pressure on 21-year-old Ronald Araujo to live up to top billing.
And while Barça have more than enough midfielders, thus leading to the freezing out of Puig and Alena, there is no natural target man on the books so Koeman will have to see if either Ansu Fati or Antoine Griezmann can inhabit the role.
Put simply, the tactician must now make the best of what he has – which is far less than what he expected.