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How Did Xavi’s 26 Months Managerial Spell at Barcelona Turned From Success to Failure?

How Did Xavi’s 26 Months Managerial Spell at Barcelona Turned From Success to Failure?

Xavi, a legendary footballer, during his time as a player, was hoping to replicate his success as a manager with his longtime club Barcelona, as he joined on November 6, 2021. The Catalans Giants had not won La Liga in the previous two seasons before Xavi’s arrival, with both Madrid clubs winning the coveted domestic title. With work to do, he quickly implemented stricter guidelines he followed as a player. For example, he reintroduced fines and required early arrival for training and tracking players’ off-pitch activities. With the foundation laid out, Xavi headed into his managerial coaching stint at Barca with mixed success. 

Also Read: Incredible Spain Captain Morata Sends Atlético to the Spanish La Liga Top Four After 20 Games


Xavi’s Accomplishments at Barcelona 

After a poor start to his early tenure as manager, Xavi and his team looked the bunch after some attacking winter signings with Ferran Torres and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. For context, they went on a 14-match unbeaten streak as they scored four goals in six out of 11 matches, including qualifying for the quarterfinals of the Europa League. He also led his team in ending their five-match losing streak against bitter rivals Real Madrid with a mesmerising 4-0 win at the Bernabéu.

However, despite Xavi’s best efforts in leading his team to second from ninth when he took charge, the season ended trophyless for Barca as they lost in the quarterfinals of the Europa League to eventual winners Eintracht Frankfurt and finished behind Real Madrid in the league. The 22/23 season looked like the same disappointing year for Xavi and crew as they dropped out of the Champions League’s group stage, but the loss was a blessing in disguise.

With Xavi not needing to pay more attention to the Champions League, he directed all his attention to the league, and Barca was formidable last season. Xavi won his first trophy in January when his team won 3-1 against Real in the Supercopa de España Final before eventually lifting up the title for the first time in three years as they only conceded 20 goals throughout 38 games. His accomplishments also netted him a contract extension till 2025.


The Downfall of Xavi 

As expectations weigh in heading to this 23/24 season, the criticism continues to sprout with Xavi’s team suffering setback after setback with inconsistent and lacklustre displays, which saw them fall behind Real Madrid and surprise package Girona in the standings. Xavi’s brand of football also came under heavy scrutiny as the fans demanded a more attractive style of football, the tiki-taka style, rather than his focused on defence. 

While defending does win titles, Barcelona’s defence has been leaking goals everywhere, with them already conceding 29 goals in 21 games this campaign, a far cry from the 20 from 38 games last year. Moreover, rumours of dressing room disputes between Xavi and the players only mounted the pressure on Xavi, and he eventually had enough after his team’s dramatic 5-3 home defeat to Villareal. 

After the match, Xavi revealed that he would be stepping down at the end of the season, quoting Barcelona needed a change and the effects on his mental. “I want to announce that on June 30, I will no longer continue as the coach at Barca. I think the situation needs to change course, and as a Barcelona fan, I cannot allow the current situation. To explain better, the feeling of being Barca’s coach is unpleasant. It is cruel as you feel that often there is a lack of respect. You feel they do not value your work, and it wears you down terribly. It affects your mental health.”

Also Read: Royal Antwerp FC Earn Memorable 3-2 Win Against Barcelona as They Bow Out of the UEFA Champions League in Style


Xavi’s Replacement

Best: Jürgen Klopp

As the manager who started last week’s news fiesta with his announcement to leave Liverpool at the end of the season, Jürgen Klopp is undoubtedly the best option for Barcelona to replace Xavi. Moreover, Joan Laporta, the club’s president, is an avid fan of the German and has talked about his appreciation for the passionate coach.

However, Klopp has explicitly stated he will take a year’s break after leaving the Reds, and Xavi’s departure does not align well with Klopp’s appointment. In addition, there could be a clash of philosophy between Klopp and Laporta as the German will demand a total shakeup of the squad, which Barcelona may not be able to provide due to FFP. Regardless, Klopp remains a top managerial option for Barca, and Gündoğan and Lewandoski could sway the German to Spain.

Realistic: Thiago Motta

Following up with Xavi, Thiago Motta is also an ex-Barca player and is the current favourite to replace the Spaniard as manager next season. Despite not being in the headlines as often, Thiago Motta has silently built up a solid reputation in Italy, with Bologna as the Italian is pushing for a European spot with the club after impressive displays.

For example, he has brought the club from a bottom-half team to 9th in his first season and is continually improving the club as they could even contest their first trophy in the Coppa Italia after knocking out favourites Inter Milan away from home. If Motta does bring Bologna a trophy and qualifies for them for a European spot position, there will be little doubt on his quality if he does succeed Xavi.

Wildcard: Mikel Arteta 

With wild claims and fueled rumours flooding the news, Mikel Arteta has emerged as a shock candidate for the Barcelona job. According to Sport, a publication based in Catalonia, Arteta has reportedly told his closest friends and family that he is considering leaving Arsenal a year early to join the Catalan Giants.

While Mikel Arteta has since come forward and reiterated he is Arsenal through and through, his move to Barca seems reasonable as he has no problem setting in due to his Spanish background and his accomplishments spoke for themselves as he has transformed the Gunners from title pretenders to title contenders.


What’s Next for Barcelona? 

With Barcelona already knocked out of the Copa del Rey and the league title miles away, the club and fans could only bear the five-month-long agony till the season ends. Moreover, with Xavi throwing in the towel, it seems the club will be under rebuilding again as they are very likely to end trophyless this year.

However, they are still in the running for the league and Champions League, and we have all seen what teams can achieve when they rally under one purpose. To follow Barca’s journey, head to AsiaSport for daily updates and coverage of the Catalans Giants or other clubs you prefer.

Steven Mosier

"Eat, breathe and sleep sports" is the life motto of mine. My professional athlete career ended way earlier than I thought, but the passion remains till the present, which is why I am here writing you all the sports news you crave! Also, I am a huge fan of the Premier League as well the NBA.

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