Frank Rijkaard has coached the final game for Barcelona on saturday.
Shame on the management of Barcelona for the way they handled the whole affair of him being replaced. But Frank never complained. Took all the blame for the wrongs of some of his extravagant squad.. most notably Ronaldinho.
Last year around February, Barcelona was cruising in the league. Had a huge lead over Madrid although their Champions League campaign didnt go as far, they were still expected to win La Liga. Madrid was in all sorts of chaos. The whole beckham saga of signing with MLS Soccerball LA Galaxy, the crowd's distaste for the practical and unstylish means of Fabio Capello. Suddenly something happened. Madrid caught fire. Ruud Van Nistelrooj carried this team and then when Beckham came back for the last 10 odd games they kept pulling win after win. That amazing run coincided with a funk of Barcelona and to this day they havent shaken off of that funk.
Frank is not blemishless. He is criticised for his lenient ways towards his players notably their training habits. He has always been that way. Its just that folks like Ronaldinho couldnt handle the huge success of winning 2 Ligas and 1 Champions League in 2 years. Rijkaard put Barcelona back on the map of European greats after the mess left by Luis Van Gaal.
One of the problems not very well publicised is the departure of his hardman assistant Henk Ten Cate at the end of last season. Henk was the guy who used to do the 'dirty job' of a task master in the coaching set up of Frank. Although it is well documented in Barcelona that Ronaldinho and bunch of other stars were never known for their affinity to training and practice.
Apart from the obvious contributions in trophies Frank overlooked the maturing of exciting youngsters like Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Giovani dos Santos and Bojan Krkic, who no doubt will be his legacy.
The famous 4-3-3, the committment to attack and play attractive football, he never wavered from any of that. A case in point is that inspite of the wretched season Barcelona had, Manchester United barely got past them in the CL semis.
Thank you Frank for everything. Wish you all the best in your new job. I am sure you will find a great one. The people in Barcelona, Madrid and the Spanish league will miss you greatly. I was never a Barça fan, and I am still not one, but would love to see you back in Spain.
Adiós Frank. May be you are a good fit in Milan to coach Kaka, Pato & Co!
ps: Dag = Adiós = Bye in Dutch :)