Outgoing Xavi feeling unloved in ‘cruel’ Barca job

Outgoing Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández said his work at the club has never been sufficiently valued and that it will be “impossible” for his successor to enjoy the job.

Xavi, 44, announced after Saturday’s 5-3 defeat to Villarreal that he will leave Barça at the end of the current campaign, despite having a contract until 2025.

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Barça won LaLiga by 10 points last season under Xavi, but they have failed to kick on this term, exiting the Spanish Supercopa and the Copa del Rey this month while falling 11 points behind league leaders Girona.

“It is a cruel and unpleasant job,” Xavi said in a news conference ahead of Wednesday’s LaLiga fixture against Osasuna at the Olympic Stadium.

“It makes you feel worthless on a daily basis. Pep [Guardiola] had already told me; I saw Luis Enrique suffer.

“We have a problem in terms of the level of demand. You don’t enjoy it. You’re playing for your life all the time. It’s cruel.

“The job we have done has not been sufficiently valued. We arrived in 2021 at one of the most difficult moments in the club’s history.”

Pressed on who has not appreciated the job he has done, Xavi added: “In general I am not valued. That generates a certain amount of wear and tear, especially when it’s your club.

“I have the feeling that whatever I do, I won’t be valued. It’s not to do with putting up with the pressure. We came in at such a difficult moment and I don’t think our work will ever be valued.

“I have always said what I think. If I say we are a team in construction, you kill me. If I say we don’t have the Barça side of 2010, there is also criticism.

“Whatever I do, there is criticism. Nothing I say is [taken on]. Not even winning LaLiga [10] points ahead of Real Madrid, not even winning the Supercopa [in 2023] …

“It’s an issue to do with the club, the environment which circulates it, the demands … and that’s why the feeling I had was that this is the right moment to leave.”

However, Xavi did say he has felt valued by the club’s president, Joan Laporta, and that he was “grateful for the opportunity and the confidence shown” in him.

Looking ahead, Xavi believes the same issues that have worn him down will also be a problem for whoever eventually replaces him.

“The same will happen [to the next coach],” he added. “This is the problem. I would advise them to be themselves, to be natural and to not allow themselves to be influenced.

“My dream was to coach Barça, win and play good football. I am proud of what I have done and I have a clear conscience. My advice to my successor would be to enjoy it, but it’s impossible.”

Despite all of that, Xavi, who spent 17 years in Barça’s first team before moving to Qatar in 2015, has not completely closed the door on returning in the future.

“I don’t rule out coming back one day,” he said. “I am a club man, and I am here for the club when they need me.”

Xavi steered Barça from ninth to second place in his first season in charge after replacing Ronald Koeman before helping the Blaugrana win a first LaLiga title since 2019 last year.

However, the pressure has increased dramatically over the last two months following a turbulent run of results as Barça lost to Girona, Real Madrid, Athletic Club and Villarreal, conceding four or more goals on each occasion.

Xavi hopes his announcement can have a positive effect on the team as the attempt to overturn an 11-point deficit in the league and progress in the Champions League, where they meet Napoli in the round of 16.

“I made the decision now because we need a reaction,” he said. “My priority is to finish on a good note. Barcelona need a reaction and I think this is the best decision I could have made.

“We have a lot to play for against Osasuna. We want to finish as high as possible. I am really up for it. I have let the players know that. I am going to give even more so that this keeps working.”

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, who is a legend at Barca as both a player and manager, said the pressure of managing the club is much higher than any job in the Premier League.

“It’s one thousand times higher and tougher over there than here,” Guardiola said. “Here for the managers, is a real place to be. Of course, a lot of games and six press conferences a week, and every three days games is a lot. But the pressure you feel in Barcelona is not comparable for another club.”


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