It was the first major move from Barcelona president Joan Laporta since he returned to the club. Laporta will be hoping that Xavi can restore Barcelona back to their former glory.
However, it is a massive gamble to appoint Xavi, a manager with little experience. It is also a huge gamble for Xavi, as he puts his legendary reputation as a Barcelona player at stake.
Xavi: A Huge Gamble for Manager and Club
Monumental Gamble by Joan Laporta
Make no mistake this is a huge gamble by Joan Laporta. Appointing a club legend may be popular with the fans but if Barcelona don’t get results quickly that popularity can evaporate.
Xavi’s appointment as Barcelona manager continues a growing trend of clubs in Europe appointing club legends. Juventus tried it when they appointed Andrea Pirlo, Chelsea too with Frank Lampard and Manchester United in appointing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who remains in charge at Old Trafford. All three weren’t and haven’t been a great success.
Laporta will be hoping that Xavi can buck this recent trend. The 59-year-old isn’t afraid of taking a gamble. In 2008, he appointed the inexperienced and untested Pep Guardiola as Barcelona manager. The only experience Guardiola had at the time was managing Barcelona’s B team.
That appointment turned out to be an incredible success. Guardiola won three La Liga titles, two Champions Leagues, two Copa del Reys, three Spanish Super Cups, two European Super Cups, and two FIFA Club World Cups at Barcelona.
To expect Xavi to have the same success is unlikely and unreasonable. Guardiola had at his disposal one of the greatest players of all time in Lionel Messi. Also, two of the best midfielders of their generation in Andres Iniesta and of course Xavi himself.
The current Barcelona squad doesn’t have anywhere near the level of quality that Pep’s side had. Laporta will be hoping that Xavi will develop the current crop of young players and get them playing the Barcelona way.
Xavi’s only experience is managing in Qatar where he had decent success. This is a massive step up though. The La Liga title looks beyond Barcelona already but it is vital that they qualify for the Champions League next season given their financial situation. That will be the main objective that Xavi has to fulfill this season.
Gamble for Xavi Too
If it is a huge gamble from Joan Laporta to appoint Xavi as Barcelona manager, the same can be said of Xavi agreeing to take the job.
The former Barcelona midfielder is risking his club legend status. If his spell as a manager is a disaster it will tarnish his Barca legacy and reputation.
Xavi has a huge job on his hands. Currently, Barcelona are ninth in La Liga and have won just four in 12 La Liga games this season. Despite this, they are only six points off the top four.
In many ways, Xavi has nothing to lose. The only way is up. He does have some top-quality young players to build around. The likes of Ansu Fati, Frenkie de Jong and Pedri to name just three. Given Barcelona’s current financial situation, Xavi will know he will have to continue to develop and integrate young players from their La Masia academy.
The former Barcelona midfielder had good success at Al Sadd in Qatar. Also, his style of play will get fans on his side. He will bring Barcelona back to the possession style of play that went missing under Ronald Koeman who decided to go more direct during his time at Nou Camp.
He will also instantly command respect in the dressing room given what he has achieved in the game. He has already introduced 10 rules, one of which is players must arrive at least 90 minutes early for training. Already, Ousmane Dembele has been fined for breaking those rules. Xavi expects high standards and will demand that from his players.
This is a huge job given Barcelona’s financial circumstances even for an experienced manager. But for a relative rookie, it is enormous.
Xavi will get time to try and get Barcelona back to their glory days. However, whether that is possible given their financial plight only time will tell.
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