Xavi, the Manager

Everyone knew Xavi was an astute student of the game and read the game better than most, even during his playing days. So, most of the fans and pundits expected him to make a transition from a great player to a great manager sooner rather than later. It was no secret that he always had the makings of a successful football manager, but even then, not many expected him to make an impact right out of the gate. In less than 3 years as a manager, Xavi is already tapping his plethora of knowledge, experience, and acumen, and making massive strides in his second innings in football. Here we dig deep into Xavi’s philosophies, and the things he has been doing and capable of doing in the days to come as a manager.

Image source: AFP / Karim Jaafar

Style of Management

During his playing days, Xavi was known as the conductor. It was not only by design but also by necessity, not just for his team but also for him. He was someone who wanted to be in control of the game. He was the one who pulled strings for his side, orchestrating both attack and defense. Xavi as a manager is no different. He still seeks to be in control of the game. Former midfield maestro does not feel comfortable when his team is without the ball. He believes in having the ball as much as possible and attacking and dictating with the ball, creating chances and subsequently hurting the opposition. His style is very similar to that of Guardiola. For him winning is important, but so is the brand and the style of football his team plays. He wants to stay true to the typical Barcelona style of football.

During his 97 games at the helm of Al Sadd, spanning two and a half years, he led the club to seven trophies. He was already doing his thing there, and with better players at his disposal in Barca, he will be able to do that even more.

Image source: David Ramos/Getty Images

Barcelona Boss

Xavi was propelled into the deep end right of the bat when he signed up for the Barcelona boss. They were at the 9th position in the league and struggling in the Champions League. Their performances were nowhere near the level we’re accustomed to with Barca. That now seems to be history. In 13 matches in La Liga as manager, Xavi has 8 wins, 4 draws, and a loss. The team has looked sharp, placed 4th in the table in La Liga.

The month of February was supposed to be his toughest test so far, a litmus test so to say, and he has passed that with flying colors. In 6 matches last month against the likes of Athletico, Napoli, Espanyol, Athletic Club and Valencia, he had 4 wins and 2 draws. Barca is more in control of what they are doing. There has been an evident upsurge in control, intensity, and energy. Xavi is demanding more effort and heart from his players, and they are responding well. They look more cohesive as a unit with crisp ball retention and organized pressing. Barcelona is the 3rd highest-scoring team in the top 5 leagues in 2022 with 28 goals (only behind Liverpool and Real Betis). The team looks united, motivated and the players are buying into Xavi’s ideas and tactics. They are playing for their manager, putting on the fight, and performing with a winning mentality, which is always a nice sign for both manager and the team going forward.

Image source: REUTERS/Albert Gea

What next?

Xavi has already achieved a lot in a few months with Barcelona. Things look extremely promising. Almost everyone has improved their standards and performances under his management. He seems to be extracting the best out of everyone. They either are back in form or taking their game to another level under Xavi. He has built a squad that boasts both youth and experience, which will bode well for Barcelona going forward.

He is a thorough Culer keeping Barca’s interests and well-being as the priority. This can only be reassuring for the club and the fans. Earlier, Xavi insisted that he wanted to build Barcelona as a team that the opposition feared to play against. By the looks of the trailer so far, he was mincing no words.
Currently, the midfield looks amazing, the attack is decent, but the defense is still a concern. So, Xavi would want to make that defense more compact. With the rich history of Barcelona, and Xavi being a significant part of that history, he won’t be content with a good Barca side. He would keep pushing the envelope until he has a great Barcelona side vying for every football trophy in Europe. So what’s next for Barcelona seems very encouraging.