Xavi Hernández was introduced today as Barcelona’s new head coach at the Camp Nou. The playing legend is expected to achieve the same glory leading the Blaugrana from the bench.
He was cheered and applauded. Crowds at the Camp Nou are once again singing his name. For Barcelona fans all is well in the world, at least for a day. The news everyone waited for since the moment Koeman got sacked was confirmed on Friday. Xavi is already being compared to Guardiola, which he says is the greatest compliment.
The new coach was eager to speak about the style he will be implementing at Can Barça: “I will demand a lot… But I will help them. It is all about helping them, because being in Barça is hard. They need to feel like a team. I’m going to abandon my entire life to make sure everything works out well. The idea is to press in the front lines. We have to restore many things. Especially in the pressing after losing the ball. I want us to be intense, aggressive… A team that leaves their soul on the pitch.” -said Xavi in front of fans and media.
While wearing the adored striped jersey, he won 8 leagues, 4 Champions, 2 European Supercups, 2 Club World Cups, 3 Copas del Rey, 6 Spanish Supercups…
Xavi also spoke of the transition from Barcelona’s player to coach: “(As coach) It’s a great advantage already having met Ter Stegen, Piqué, Alba, Busi, Roberto… I know how to push them and any weak spots they may have.” -adding that the first training session starts tomorrow morning.
Hernández mentioned the word “order” multiple times, while emphasising that the goal isn’t for him to be strict: “The order is missing. I don’t want to use the word “discipline”. I don’t like it. But definitely putting in the order and making sure we are all going in the same direction. We need to be more professional than ever.”
Xavi seems motivated, determined, with a clear vision. However, he is still an inexperienced coach. He started coaching in 2019 with Al-Saad. While he brought them three trophies, the level of competition in Saudi isn’t even close to what he can expect in Europe.
The pressure is on
Xavi returns to the place he grew up not only as Míster, but as a club legend and the person expected to help rise the club back from the ashes. To give them back the Copas, the Leagues and the Champions. To get them back on track. The pressure of making that happen right away can be debilitating.
It is feared that the expectations of fans, media, and Junta will be a lot for a 41 year-old head coach to handle.
Xavi needs to be given time and space to work. He said it himself that it would be a process. Barcelona no longer have a recognisable playing style, which means he almost gets to start from scratch. With the help of amazing La Masía talent and some of the very few staple players left from that glorious generation that fell apart over time.
It remains to be seen whether or not the pressure from both the public from both the outside and within Barcelona will give Xavi enough room for the new squad to grow. However, it is a pleasure to see him of all people leading that endeavour.