This is a roller-coaster time to be an FC Barcelona fan as the club is in arguably the most unsettling rebuild era. After the departure of Lionel Messi, and exactly at the one year anniversary of Bartomeu resigning. Juan Laporta sacked Ronald Koeman. It came just a couple of hours after the 1-0 league defeat to Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday. Sooner or later, it was supposed to happen, but it’s later for us curlers around the world.
The favorite candidates to replace have been widely talked about since the last international break. But club legend Xavi Hernandez has always been the favorite.
There’s a lot for any new coach to deal with at the club right now, and Xavi would be taking a massive challenge on himself. The club, and the fanbase needs to give him time as we do not want an ‘Andrea Pirlo like’ incident happening in Barcelona. Let’s look at the changes Xavi needs to address now that he has been appointed:
XAVI KNOWS THE CLUB’S PHILOSOPHY
In an interview, Xavi said that the Barca style is ‘non-negotiable’ for anyone who comes in to coach the team. Given how he has employed his tactics at Al Sadd, it’s expected that Xavi will bring back the modern day attacking football that Barcelona has been famous for. The ‘tiki-taka’ possession based attacking football that we all enjoy will surely come back. The fans will enjoy watching Barcelona play once again.
THOSE WHO DESERVE IT, WILL PLAY IN THE XAVI ERA
Being from La Masia himself, Xavi must rely more on young academy graduates, and give them more chances. We can FINALLY expect Riqui Puig to get more minutes under his belt, the number 6 is certainly in Xavi’s plans. In addition, more minutes for Nico, Yusuf Demir, Alejandro Balde, and other B team players will be a great sight to see.
Unwanted players like Luuk de Jong, Samuel Umtiti, and others who do not play or train well will be sold sooner or later. Xavi needs to be very clear about who he wants and doesn’t want in the team. Spanish media have already been reporting that Barça is looking to get rid of Luuk de Jong in January itself. We can expect Alex Collado to get minutes as well, once he’s officially registered with the first team.
WINNING MENTALITY AND MAN MANAGEMENT
Luis Enrique said before the Remontada ‘If the rival can score four against us, we can score six against them’. On the other hand, Ernesto Valverde said ‘it is what it is’. Ronald Koeman said ‘this is what we have to offer’. The Dutchman also threw Oscar Mingueza and Dest under the bus after the 3-0 loss to Bayern Munich, saying that they’re not as good as Alphonso Davies.
The mentality of the dressing room, and man management is an essential part of the job that Xavi must be very good at. This is because he was considered as a ‘cancer’ at the start of his playing career, and was almost sold as well. But he fought for his place in the first team, and the rest is history. He will not only protect the players if need be after a poor performance, he will also instill the missing winning mentality in the dressing room.
Barcelona are in ninth place in the league at the time of writing, six points off fourth place Real Sociedad. A place in the knockout stages of the Champions League isn’t guaranteed either, and there’s a mountain to climb. To get the best out of the players individually, and as a team, it’s imperative that Xavi changes the atmosphere around the dressing room. Senior players like Gerrad Pique, Sergio Bousquets, and Jordi Alba will definitely help him navigate through the process.
REBUILD THE SQUAD
Statement signings like Erling Haaland might be very difficult for Laporta to execute. But given his charisma, and the fact that Mbappe will most likely sign for Real Madrid, the president will try his best to bring the Norwegian to the Camp Nou. His good relationship with Mino Raiola will be a plus in the negotiations. But the right kind of players in other positions are also to be looked at. Spanish media reported that Xavi likes Jules Kounde from Sevilla, and Kingsley Coman from Bayern.
In addition to giving minutes to players who truly deserve to play, it’s important to look ahead at the future. Making the right decisions in the transfer market is very important, especially given the club’s financial situation. Xavi understands the club, and will completely understand the financial constraints and operate accordingly.
There’s a lot happening at the club right now, and Xavi is not experienced at the highest kevel. People doubt his capabilities irrespective of how well he knows the club and its philosophy. The last thing we want is a situation where we have to sack Xavi. Hence an appropriate amount of time as well as patience is needed. His appointment right now seems as a romantic one. But it could prove highly beneficial for the future of the club.
A fan of the beautiful game since childhood, I am here to share my thoughts on all things football. I’m a writer, a podcaster, and also a musician on the side.