A bemused Ronald Koeman has described the constant speculation over his future as Barcelona head coach as “a little bit strange”.
It has been a tumultuous debut season for the former Netherlands boss, who arrived at Camp Nou on a two-year contract in August.
First up, he had to manage the fallout from Lionel Messi’s ultimately unsuccessful transfer request ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.
A failure to get past the last-16 stage in the Champions League was a major disappointment, but a superb recent run in LaLiga has put them into title contention.
They did suffer a first defeat since early December against Real Madrid in El Clasico last weekend, but they are just two points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid with eight games remaining.
Up next is Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday and, speaking at a pre-match media conference, a clearly exasperated Koeman did not hold back when asked if failure to secure the trophy would result in his dismissal.
“If you would like to hear my opinion about this, it’s a little bit strange that I need to answer questions like this,” he told reporters.
“We had a run of 19 games without losing, we lose one match and I need to talk about my future.
“Maybe I need to accept this, but I don’t agree. You have to do your job and talk to people in the club. I have one more year of my contract.
“I know before the game what will happen if we win and if we don’t win. I have to accept it. I took this job as a coach and I know there’s a big pressure and I can handle that. Sometimes it’s a little bit strange.”
Despite speculation that Koeman may not start next season as Barca boss, the club’s new president Joan Laporta did offer public support to Koeman over his future after his victory in last month’s election.
Asked if he needs Laporta’s backing again following the defeat to Madrid, Koeman said: “I don’t need this. We have spoken and he has shown me his confidence.
“If someone writes that the coach’s future is at risk, the president doesn’t have to respond to that by showing confidence.
“I’m the first to know what Laporta thinks. At this club you need to win trophies, and despite the changes and the economic situation at the club, we’re here at a final and we want to win it; speculation isn’t important.”
This will be the fourth meeting between the sides this season, with Barca winning both LaLiga clashes and Athletic securing a dramatic 3-2 triumph in the Supercopa de Espana in January.