“The players are due to the profession, the club and the fans”

BarcelonaXavi arrived two and a half hours early in his first training session with Barça. Clad in the club tracksuit and accompanied by his staff, as well as the president Joan Laporta, the vice-president of sports Rafa Yuste and the executive dome of the football area, the egarenc technician has addressed his first words to the players mentioned today in the Sports City. Xavi has sent them a message of optimism and also of demand. “I am a supporter of order, rather than discipline. My experience as a player tells me that, when there have been rules, we have done well,” he made clear during his presentation as Barça’s brand new coach. And Terrassa, who has a very clear idea of ​​how he wants to manage the dressing room, will recover habits such as breakfast and lunch together with the intention of promoting cohesion and, also, supervising the feeding of the staff.

Similarly, footballers will have to arrive an hour and a half before training in order to have breakfast and prepare well for the session. The coaching staff will already be in the Sports City from two hours before the start of training. And, according to the newspaper As, fines will be recovered if there are delays (or other misconduct) and their amount will grow exponentially depending on the recidivism. Extracurricular activities will also be monitored and it will be necessary not to arrive home after midnight on the two days prior to the match. “We have to be more professional. We are not getting results and we have to improve in aspects that go beyond matches or training,” Xavi said publicly.

The Terrassa native has been willing to apply and recover a code of conduct that in recent years had been degraded or set aside, but that Xavi already lived in his time as a player, especially during the time of Pep Guardiola and also with Luis Enrique, the last coach he had as a player in Barcelona. “It’s important that there are rules and it shouldn’t be seen as a strange thing: it can’t be that everyone does their part. There has to be seriousness, and by that I don’t mean rigidity, but the players have to be clear that they are due to a profession, a club and a hobby, which is why it is normal to set rules for following behaviors that are linked to professionalism: punctuality, nutrition, rest, recovery sessions and injury prevention … A handful of things that make a professional footballer’s day not only an hour and a half of training, but it must be, as in other professions, 4, 5 or 6 hours or as they see fit “, explains, clearly and frankly, Joan Vilá, Xavi’s friend and football mentor.

Vila, who was linked to Barça for more than 40 years, first as a player and then as a coach in the youth team, has no doubt that Egarenc is ready to take over the reins of Barça “, despite being only two years old. ‘experience on the bench. “When he was a player, you could see that he was a coach on the field. Of those who analyze, encourage, order, lead, command, who want the ball … This was already visible to him, from an early age. As Pep was also seen. Plus, he’s a football lunatic. Now he is a father and his responsibilities have increased, but I remember he was able to watch a game of fry at twelve at night “, says Vilá, who together with his son Ferran helped Xavi for a year and a half to do the transition from player to coach.

Dialogue with young people and veterans

While Xavi is committed to recovering the rules in the locker room, he is also a coach who seeks complicity and dialogue with the players. “He was very grateful as a player for the dialogue with the coaches and now he applies it: he is honest and goes face to face with the players, without seconds. He will know how to treat the young people in the house, which is always easier because they have the motivation “They have grown up watching Xavi play for Barça. He will also know how to treat the veterans. He knows them well and they are the first ones he will demand that they take a step forward and take responsibility,” said Vilá.

“Xavi was in the first team for almost 20 years. Luis Enrique already said it: no one knows him better than the dressing room, because he has lived through both good and bad times,” said Marc Muniesa, a player. trained at Barça and that in the last two years he has faced Xavi’s Al-Sadd as a defender for Al-Arabi, a club he came to from an old acquaintance of his, coach Jordi Condom . “After two years as a coach, Xavi has improved in the way he treats players, in knowing how to manage their emotions and detect how to act with each one. He and his staff they are ready “, explains the defender of Lloret de Mar, who will miss the close relationship and friendship he lived with Xavi and his surroundings in Qatar.” It is clear that the level of Qatari football is lower than European , but they have competed in the Asian Champions and Xavi has also had to manage the egos of a dressing room with players who are international with their national teams “.

Marc Muniesa in an archive image.

Muniesa explains how Xavi has changed Al-Sadd. “When he got there as a player, Al-Sadd was a team that played closed and Xavi was a midfielder. When they got the ball back, they sent it to Xavi and he mounted the counterattack. It was a team that played more in On the other hand, when he took over the bench, he changed the mentality and way of playing of footballers who had been at the club for a long time. then it made them an unstoppable team. Al-Sadd was not a winning team at the time, but Al-Duhail, their main rival and the club with the most budget in the league, “said Muniesa. The Catalan defender also recalls a crucial detail: “Xavi did not shake his wrist when changing the starting goalkeeper, who had been with the club for many years and was also the head coach of the Qatar national team, to replace him because he played better with his feet. ”

For Muniesa, that Xavi can transfer his model of play to Barça will have more to do with a “question of motivation” than learning. “There are many players in the house who have sucked this way of playing since they were little. And those outside are level and should take it quickly,” said the Lloret de Mar footballer, while asking for patience. and remember that the large number of injuries will require a little more patience. For his part, Vilá explains that “Xavi has arrived at a somewhat complicated time and if you compare, for example, with the last glorious era of the club in which all the gears worked, the level of the current staff is not the same , especially with regard to foreign footballers “. He assures, however, that with Xavi they will be a little better every day. “No one can guarantee success, because sport depends on many circumstances, but what is guaranteed with Xavi is that he will train and play according to his idea from day one.” , concludes someone who, like many Catalans, celebrates Xavi’s return home.



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