Upon sacking Ronald Koeman, Xavi was appointed as the new head coach for the Blaugranas with hopes of the former player replicating his trophy-laden career as a player.
The Spaniard’s tenure at Barcelona, which began on November 6, has been filled with mixed feelings, and for all of the hype surrounding the former midfielder and the success he has enjoyed, the results have been underwhelming so far.
Xavi played for Barcelona for 17 years, making 767 appearances and winning 25 trophies, including four Champions League wins and eight league titles. During his time as a player, he was coached by several tactical geniuses, and with the experience learned locally and internationally, it is expected that the 42-year-old implements the blueprints from his successful bosses.
Despite being the only Barcelona coach in recent years not to have one of football’s greats in Lionel Messi on his squad, his skills, tactical nous and competence are beyond doubt, but a highlight of several deficiencies in his squad has been the talking point. The club looked like they would be unable to strengthen their squad during the transfer window but a miraculously engineered move by the club’s President Jean Laporta saw them snap up some of the best talents in the world.
Summer acquisition of Bayern and the Bundesliga legend and goal machine, Robert Lewandowski, and a host of other exciting stars including Raphinha and Frank Kessie looked like a job well done from the board and the team appeared set to compete on all fronts this season. Their preseason scoring form and free-flow attacking football with Ousmane Dembele and Raphinha anchoring either flank are yet to be replicated this season.
Falling to defeat Real Madrid at home, unconvincing displays and the brink of their relegation from the champions league to the Europa League has been the highlight of Xavi’s new team. This brings questions as to if Xavi’s management skills are not good enough for the team or if there’s an underlying issue within the locker room.
Looking at the numbers, Xavi reportedly has the worst record of any manager to have coached the club for at least 50 games, bringing concerns within the fanbase. Let’s take a look at the possible deficiencies within the squad.
Unhappiness And Dissatisfaction Within Xavi’s squad
The consistent grumpiness and grumbling that comes from players’ dissatisfaction over their playing time has come up over and over again. Barring injuries to vital players within the squad, Xavi had consistently listed an unchanged XI for the majority of his games this season – a decision that has yielded results even in the toughest scenarios.
Spanish trio Gavi, Pedri, and Sergio Busquet have been the preferred option for Xavi in the middle of the park limiting Frank Kessie and Frenkie De Jong to cameo appearances. Both have, however, not expressed their displeasure over their roles. However, another veteran within the club Gerard Pique voiced his discontent with his bench role.
The veteran defender is regarded as the fifth-choice center-back at Camp Nou behind Ronald Araujo, Jules Kounde, Eric Garcia, and Andreas Christensen. Both personalities who were previously teammates had a dressing room clash where Xavi promised lesser game time if the complacency continues.
<img decoding="async" width="728" height="90" src="https://i0.wp.com/stadiumrant.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/53/2022/09/NFL-3.jpg?resize=728%2C90&ssl=1" alt="" class="wp-image-6887 lazyload" srcset="https://i0.wp.com/stadiumrant.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/53/2022/09/NFL-3.jpg?w=728&ssl=1 728w, https://i0.wp.com/stadiumrant.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/53/2022/09/NFL-3.jpg?resize=300%2C37&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/stadiumrant.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/53/2022/09/NFL-3.jpg?resize=500%2C62&ssl=1 500w" sizes="(max-width: 728px) 100vw, 728px" data-recalc-dims="1" />
Xavi’s Indecisiveness Over Management Of Young Players
As mentioned earlier, Xavi was quick to settle into his natural 4-3-3 formation, which has continually yielded results, but his rotation and substitutions when behind have been subpar (much to the annoyance of the fans). A host of Barcelona players are having an on-and-off season and this inconsistency looks set to cost the club on major grounds. Ferran Torres, a big money signing from Manchester City last season isn’t brewing in Confidence, and Ansu Fati’s injury record isn’t helping either.
Xavi’s reluctance to alter his squad or get the more impactful players early on the pitch appears appalling and has led to shouts of favoritism from the fan base and the trouble of integrating players into the team is far from done but needs time.
Pressure Within The Club And From The Outside
The Spanish manager, however, took responsibility for the club’s recent decline and voiced his decision to step down should the Barcelona hierarchy no longer have faith in his projects.
Their latest Champions League struggle was a disappointing 3-3 draw against Inter Milan on Wednesday and a defeat to league rivals Real Madrid. This saw them lose the top spot and had the Catalan giants’ coach Xavi on the hinge with several questions about his future at the club.
“I know there’s a lot of pressure, a lot of criticism, this is Barca. I will not stop working and trying. The day that I’m not sure (of myself), I will leave. I will not be a problem for Barcelona the day I see I am not a solution.” – Xavi said in an interview.
Barcelona despite a few unconvincing displays is, however, having a good season in the league but that cannot be said across Europe. There’s no certainty that Xavi would do greater than the former coaches or ever reach the heights of their best coach Pep Guardiola but the Spaniard has shown glimpses of what he is to bring to the Spanish outfit.
Xavi should be given more time to take the club back to where it belongs – a herculean but achievable-looking task. Hope you liked this article and check out some more of our work!