Xavi Hernández has recently declared that he will step down as the Barcelona manager at the end of the current season. The announcement came after Barcelona’s 5-3 defeat to Villarreal last Saturday in La Liga. Barcelona is in the fourth position in the league table with 47 points from 22 matches.
While still being inside the top four and qualifying for the round of 16 in UEFA Champions League is not a disastrous performance, the expectations at Barcelona are far more demanding, as Xavi himself has termed his job as “cruel and unpleasant”.
The 44-year-old former central midfielder, who played in a whopping 767 matches for Barca in his glittering career, received support from former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola. Guardiola is former Barcelona player and manager himself and knows the demands of the job very well. Xavi often controlled the tempo of the game from the middle of the pitch as a player, but is finding it difficult to do as a manager.
Barcelona has made new signings, but most of them have failed to fulfill expectations
Xavi has made quite a few new signings after becoming the Barcelona manager in 2021. Of those signings, Robert Lewandowski has played his part reasonably well, scoring 46 goals in 75 matches for Blaugrana so far. However, İlkay Gündoğan, a treble winner with Manchester City last season, has four goals and eight assists in 32 matches, which is not quite the kind of return one would expect from a player of his class.
Others like Ferran Torres and Raphinha have been slightly below-par to add to Barcelona’s problems. Still, on the positive side, there have been young players like Fermin Lopez, along with the ones like Gavi and Pedri, who have also played their roles quite well.
Still, if one compares their performance with the ones of youngsters like Jude Bellingham, Eduardo Camavinga and Frederico Valverde of Real Madrid, the former falls a bit short. This is where Xavi will have to work a bit more.
In this regard, it has to be said that Real Madrid have been considerably more successful than Barcelona with their new signings during the last few seasons. Probably the club’s recruitment policy and their not-so-good financial position are to be blamed for that.
The excessive pressure on Barcelona managers is not healthy for the club
Barcelona has traditionally taken pride in being more than a football club and standing for the Catalan pride. However, the political ambitions and innuendos that surround the club have often been detrimental for them.
The golden generation of Spain, of which most of the players played for Barca only, won a lot of honours for their clubs and country. One cannot expect to see a repeat of that in every succeeding generation; one has to be patient while evaluating the performance of their managers.
Barcelona’s performance in Europe has declined since the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Carles Puyol left the club and they have started suffering domestically since Lionel Messi departed. It is up to the club management and their supporters now to be more realistic and less demanding in their approach.