Xavi lays down the law after unveiling as Barca coach
Xavi Hernandez said Barcelona’s players will have to play by his rules and raise their standards as the club’s new coach laid down a firm message at his unveiling on Monday.
Xavi was presented in front of almost 10,000 fans at Camp Nou before signing his contract on the pitch, alongside his family and Barca president Joan Laporta.
The 41-year-old, who has returned to the club where he won eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues as a player, walked out to chants of “Xavi, Xavi” from his adoring supporters.
Laporta said: “Today will be an historic day for Barca.”
Despite club debts of more than a billion euros ($1.16billion), Xavi is tasked with returning Barcelona to Europe’s elite and recovering a style of play most associated with Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola.
But in a press conference after the presentation ceremony, Xavi’s main theme was less about style and more about substance, the Spaniard emphasising the first priority is to restore order.
“In the first moment it’s important we put rules in the team, that’s the first point,” said Xavi.
“Then we talk about values – respect, attitude, effort - if we don’t have these values, we don’t have a team.
“And then we can look at models of play, how we defend and attack, but the rules come first.”
Barcelona are ninth in La Liga and unlikely to be able to make significant signings any time soon.
“I know that it is a difficult time, both economically and on the pitch,” said Xavi.
“But I will ask the players to have high standards because we are Barca, the best club in the world.”
Asked if his message meant he was going to be hard with the players, Xavi said: “It is not about being hard, but about order and rules, and the rules must be followed. When I had rules in the dressing room, things went well. Without rules, things have not gone so well. It is not about discipline, it is about order.”
Xavi’s instrumental role in Guardiola’s iconic Barcelona side has many at the club hoping that he can now follow in Guardiola’s footsteps.
“Being compared to Guardiola is a victory, for everything he has given to football and Barca. For me he is the best coach in the world,” said Xavi.
Xavi brushed over whether he would like to coach Lionel Messi.
“Of course,” he said.
“And all the others, (Samuel) Eto’o, Ronaldinho.”