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

By Sports Desk November 08, 2021

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."

Related items

  • Mikel Arteta salutes ‘unbelievable’ Kai Havertz after another impressive display Mikel Arteta salutes ‘unbelievable’ Kai Havertz after another impressive display

    Mikel Arteta hailed an “unbelievable” performance from Kai Havertz after his two goals helped Arsenal move three points clear at the top of the Premier League with a thumping 5-0 win over Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium.

    The 24-year-old, who struggled in his early appearances after swapping Stamford Bridge for north London in the summer, gave a superb display against his former side as the leaders heaped more misery on visiting manager Mauricio Pochettino, who saw his ninth-place team slump to a worst-ever league defeat against Arsenal.

    Havertz struck twice as part of an 18-minute blitz in the second half as Arteta’s team won for the second time in four days, continuing their recovery from successive losses to Aston Villa and Bayern Munich.

    “He (Havertz) was unbelievable, in all departments,” said Arteta.

    “For a nine to score two goals the way he scored, his contribution was great. It’s a question for him but I’m sure he’s very pleased.”

    The Arsenal onslaught began after only four minutes, Declan Rice sliding the ball into a channel on the left of the penalty area from where Leandro Trossard took over, dinking past defender Alfie Gilchrist, on his first Premier League start, and thudding it through the legs of Djordje Petrovic.

    Thereafter Chelsea competed gamely, going close to equalising when Axel Disasi just failed to reach a flick-on from a corner and again when Nicolas Jackson’s effort was deflected onto the post by Gabriel, but in the space of under 20 minutes after the interval they fell to pieces.

    First, Ben White reacted quickest to sweep home after Rice’s shot was blocked, then Havertz got his first of the night with a lofted finish over the goalkeeper.

    The former Chelsea forward made it 4-0, his shot pinging in off the post with Petrovic rooted, before White provided the moment of the match with a cross-shot that sailed across the face of goal and in from Martin Odegaard’s pass.

    “It was a big performance, collectively and individually,” said Arteta, whose side moved clear at the top ahead of Sunday’s derby against Tottenham but have played a game more than Liverpool and two more than Manchester City.

    “I thought we were really good, against a really good team that was in great form and were going to ask us a lot of questions. I think we responded really well.

    “From the start we were really determined, really flowing, playing with a lot of courage and making things happen. Really happy with the result. It’s a big day for our supporters.

    “It’s great for us, for the confidence and for the belief that we can do it, we can come to these stages against big teams and win games the way we’ve done it tonight. So enjoy it, then it’s back to work tomorrow because we have a big one on Sunday.”

    Chelsea boss Pochettino, for whom Arteta admitted to have “all the sympathy in the world,” gave a downcast assessment of his team’s prospects of qualifying for Europe after a humbling loss.

    “Now it is difficult to see the future because after this game we feel disappointed,” he said. “It is difficult to talk about objectives.

    “If we compete like Saturday (in the FA Cup semi-final defeat to City), OK. But if we compete like today, I think we deserve to go into Europe? I think in this way, no.”

  • Reggae Girl Van Zanten eyes strong comeback from season-ending injury Reggae Girl Van Zanten eyes strong comeback from season-ending injury

    The thought of being sidelined for an entire season is almost too much for some players to bear, but Jamaica international Kalyssa ‘Kiki’ Van Zanten has embraced her darkest hour with confidence that she will emerge stronger than before.

    Van Zanten, 22, who represents Houston Dash in the United States’ National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) was placed on the season-ending injury list, after she suffered damage to her left foot in the match against the Washington Spirit last Friday.

    The American-born Reggae Girlz winger, made the revelation on social media, as she expressed her readiness to take on whatever obstacles came her way on what will be a challenging road back to enjoying her passion.

    “Absolutely devastated that my rookie season has been put on hold. I’ll come back better and stronger,” Van Zanten captioned the post, which included an X-ray image of the injury.

    Van Zanten was drafted with the number 21 overall pick in the 2024 NWSL Draft and signed with Houston Dash on March 15. She paraded her skills in four games this season and earned her first start on March 30, when the Dash earned three points on the road against Bay FC.

    Prior to her professional move, Van Zanten strutted her stuff for University of Notre Dame in the NCAA Division 1 Women’s tournament, where she made 95 appearances and scored 27 goals.

    On the international stage, the soft-spoken player, whose mother is Jamaican and father of a Dutch descent, made her Reggae Girlz debut during the Concacaf Women’s World Cup qualifiers in 2022. She scored her lone international goal against Costa Rica in Jamaica’s Concacaf Women’s Championships third-place finish in Mexico.

    Van Zanten known for her speed and flair on the channels, was also a part of Jamaica’s history-making team that secured a famous Round of 16 finish at last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

    While she grapples with the reality of her injury, Van Zanten finds solace in the support of her teammates, coaches, and fans. Their words of encouragement and unwavering belief in her ability to come back stronger provides the comfort and strength required to face the long road to recovery.

    “Thank you to my team, family and friends for all the support,” she said.

  • Enzo Maresca delighted as ‘fantastic’ Leicester move to brink of promotion Enzo Maresca delighted as ‘fantastic’ Leicester move to brink of promotion

    Enzo Maresca praised his Leicester players for the 5-0 thrashing of Southampton that put the Foxes a win away from clinching automatic promotion.

    Ghana winger Abdul Fatawu scored three of them, with Wilfred Ndidi and Jamie Vardy also on target.

    Leicester need only to win at Preston on Monday, or at home to Blackburn on the final day, to make sure they will finish ahead of at least one of Leeds or Ipswich. Indeed, if Leeds lose at QPR on Friday Leicester will be up before they take to the field again.

    Maresca, in his first season as City manager, said: “I don’t think that was the best performance of the season but the performance was fantastic, very good on and off the ball.

    “We could have been better on the ball but we are all very happy because the opposition are a fantastic team.

    “The good thing about tonight is that now we know that with one win we get promoted.

    “It was a good feeling at the end, the fans have been fantastic.”

    Fatawu, on loan from Sporting Lisbon, opened the scoring in the 25th minute when Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall played him through. The 20-year-old might have been offside but the flag stayed down. Southampton manager Russell Martin was also aggrieved that a challenge on Saints striker Che Adams by City defender Wout Faes was not given as a foul by referee Robert Madley.

    The second half belonged to Leicester though, with Ndidi charging in to head home a cross from Stephy Mavididi to double the lead.

    Fatawu struck again in the 75th minute when he accepted a pass from substitute Hamza Choudhury before smashing past goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.

    Fatawu set up Vardy for a well-taken fourth and completed the rout with an emphatic finish after the former England striker returned the favour.

    Maresca, however, joked: “I just said ‘next game you will be on the bench’ because with Abdul and young players especially, after three goals he is already thinking he is a top player.”

    Saints – famously beaten 9-0 by Leicester in the Premier League in 2019 – must now pick themselves up for the play-offs barring an extraordinary combination of results and scorelines.

    Martin made it clear he would not be doing that for them though, so disappointed was he with their capitulation.

    “The players need to show a bit of love for each other and pick each other up, I’m fed up of doing that,” he said.

    “They need to feel some pain – the same pain that I’m feeling right now.

    “Rolling over like that, it’s actually pathetic, losing 5-0. They have to rally round as a group and show some care for each other.

    “I did not like what I saw from my team one bit at 2-0 down. Self-preservation, our body language and people throwing their hands up in the air.

    “It surprised me actually. What can you do? I told them I didn’t like it.

    “I told them Che Adams is out of contract this summer and the one person who has the excuse if he didn’t really want to be all in and not work hard for his team, but he did that more than anyone. So it was inexcusable for anyone else not to do that.

    “The fans were amazing, they were still clapping at the end and deserved better than that.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.