Xavi Hernández presented as new FC Barcelona manager
Legendary former midfielder was welcomed by thousands of fans at the Camp Nou on Monday afternoon
Xavi Hernández told thousands of cheering fans at the Camp Nou of his excitement of the task at hand, as he was unveiled as the new manager of FC Barcelona on Monday afternoon.
His first game in charge will be the Barcelona derby against Espanyol in Barça’s Camp Nou stadium on Saturday, November 20.
The former blaugrana midfielder takes up the role after the sacking of Ronald Koeman in late October and arrives during one of the most difficult periods of the club’s recent history.
Barça currently lie mid-table in La Liga, are not yet assured of progressing from their Champions League group, and qualification for next year’s top European competition is far from certain.
Added to this is the dismal financial situation of FC Barcelona, with debts and liabilities amounting to some €1.35 billion.
However, despite the many difficulties, the appointment of the legendary former captain will give fans hope that fortunes can be turned around.
Xavi played 767 games in 17 seasons with FC Barcelona, picking up 25 titles along the way, including four Champions Leagues. Now, fans hope that the former club captain can bring some of the same success back to the team that has been lacking in clarity.
Speaking to reporters in the press conference after the presentation ceremony, Xavi's message to achieve this was clear: work and demanding a lot from his players.
“It’s very important that we put rules on the team, and then we’re going to decide how we play,” Xavi said, adding that he had a “good maestro” in Pep Guardiola who demanded the same high levels of workrate when he took over in 2008.
On the pitch, the new manager wants his team to be “aggressive, intense, and to win possession back in the other team’s half,” but avoided speaking about any style of play without first making the team a hardworking one.
However, Xavi clearly wants to achieve this by nurturing his players, many of whom are still very young and have a lot of development in their careers yet to come, and Xavi rejected the idea that he must be tough with the players, and assured that they will be competitive.
Fans give their thoughts
In the surroundings of the Camp Nou on Monday, there was huge excitement to welcome home a club legend.
One Barça fan Catalan News spoke with, Natalia, said that "the team needed a change, we were at a really low point and now the only way is up." She believes that Xavi will give the players more "motivation and more hope that has been missing until now."
However, the feeling of optimism was counterbalanced by a certain realism of the current situation the team finds itself in. Pau, another FC Barcelona fan, admitted he's a little worried about Xavi returning "in these circumstances because the team right now is really bad."
Regardless, he acknowledges the opportunity that now lies within the team, with Xavi now being given the chance to mould extremely talented young players into potential future superstars.
"I think Xavi will bring a very clear style of play and this will surely help the young players grow," Pau said. "I have a lot of confidence in Xavi in this regard, but we'll see what happens," he concluded, not allowing himself to get too excited.