Sunday, December 5, 2021

Xavi sends out clear message at Camp Nou unveiling: ´We are Barca, we have to win´

SoccerNews in La Liga 8 Nov 2021

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Xavi intends to lean on advice from previous Barcelona coaching greats to help restore the club to its former glories, vowing: “We are Barca, we have to win”. 

The 41-year-old was appointed as Ronald Koeman’s successor on Saturday, returning to the club where he spent 17 seasons during his playing career.

Former Spain international Xavi has spent the past two and a half years in charge of Qatari club Al Sadd and is now tasked with transforming the fortunes of Barcelona.

The Catalan giants have won just six of their 16 matches in all competitions this season and are ninth in LaLiga, already 10 points adrift of bitter rivals Real Madrid.

Barca have won just one trophy, the Copa del Rey, in the past two seasons – a far cry from Xavi’s time at the club when lifting 25 trophies in an illustrious Camp Nou spell.

Xavi played under eight permanent coaches at Barcelona, a list that includes Louis van Gaal, Frank Rijkaard, Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique.

The former Spain international is now the man in the hotseat – arguably the most high-profile job in football – and has a clear blueprint as to how he can turn things around.

“Many times I think about advice from the likes of Frank, Van Gaal, [Johann] Cruyff, Guardiola, Luis Enrique and my father,” he said at a news conference on Monday.

“Guardiola in particular was a reference for me as a player and a manager. I think he’s the best manager in the world.

“If people want to compare me with him, that’s a positive. Of course I understand the pressure of this job. I understand this is the best club in the world.

“We have to demand everything from our players. There are high expectations but that’s a good thing. We have to work hard to get back to winning trophies.”

Xavi was speaking after being unveiled in front of around 10,000 spectators at Camp Nou – Guardiola among them – where he formally signed a two and a half year contract.

“I don’t want to cry, but thank you very much to all the fans, to all the club, it’s just amazing,” Xavi said.

“I can say one thing, we are the best club in the world, and we are gonna work to try and win many titles. Barca cannot draw or lose, we have to win every single game.

“This a dream come true. I return with the maximum responsibility of being the coach of the first team. We must work and bring order. 

“The objective is to steady the ship of Barcelona, ​​to enjoy and win. Barca is my home and I really want to face this challenge. 

“It is a delicate moment in economic and sporting terms, but I am prepared, together with my staff.”

Xavi will take charge of his first training session on Tuesday in preparation for Barca’s next match, a derby showdown with Espanyol on November 20.

“I’ll say it again: We have to demand the most of ourselves, knowing that we are Barca,” Xavi added. “We cannot play to draw or lose – we have to win.

“We have to work hard, knowing we have a game with Espanyol coming up. We have to be able to compete against any opponent.”

Xavi returns to Catalonia six years after departing for Al Sadd, where he saw out his playing career before making the move into coaching.

The World Cup winner turned down the chance to take charge of Barcelona on two previous occasions, which he put down to the timing being wrong.

“The first two times Barcelona came, it didn’t feel right, both at a family level and personally. I needed more time,” he said. 

“First it was in January and then the summer, with an election in between, and there was a lot of uncertainty, it was not the moment. 

“Then Joan called me. I have always said that he is the best president in the history of Barca. I know that he is a guy who is looking forward, and now was the time.”

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