Sunday, January 12, 2020

Xavi says no to the Camp Nou, for now

THE EX-STAR IS IN LINE FOR THE BIG JOB, BUT KOEMAN AND POCHETTINO ARE OPTIONS TOO

Barcelona are in another 'crisis' after a disastrous trip to the Middle East.

In another desperate attempt to challenge English football's global appeal, La Liga had organised this year's Spanish Super Cup as a mini-tournament in Saudi Arabia, but the desired clasico showdown between Spain's big two failed to materialise as Barca were knocked out by Atletico Madrid in the semi-final.

Camp Nou
Camp Nou

The Blaugrana then made a cack-handed attempt to swiftly replace manager Ernesto Valverde with former club favourite Xavi, a change which was reported as a fait accompli by many media outlets this morning, before the news filtered through that Xavi, currently coaching Al Sadd in Qatar, had said no.

Were the club seriously planning to fly back to Spain with a different manager?

Xavi will probably be coach at the Camp Nou in time for next season. Could not the Catalans have waited until then and kept their dignity? Maybe they did and in planning for the future could not have missed the chance to speak to their former midfielder in person since they were in the Middle East for a few days, while checking on the recuperation of striker Ousmane Dembele as well.

According to club sources, Sunday's meeting between Xavi, Barca's CEO Oscar Grau and sporting director Eric Abidal was merely, "de cortesia" - a courtesy call, while Xavi reiterated his respect for Valverde and his current employers while saying they had talked about "many things". But this was clearly an attempt to sound him out for the job at the very least.

Camp Nou
Camp Nou

Until recently another old boy Ronald Koeman, currently manager of the Netherlands, was supposed to be a shoe-in for the hot seat, while rumours are growing that the currently unemployed Mauricio Pocchettino could pip both him and Xavi to the job.

Poor old Valverde. His contract expires in the summer anyway so was it too much to expect some respect until then for a man who has won the league the past two campaigns, is top of the league this campaign and is still in the Champions League? Bravo ex-Barca managers Luis Enrique and Pep Guardiola for leaping to his defence tonight.

At any other club, with the exception perhaps of Real Madrid, that record would mean the manager would be in no danger of an imminent sacking, but as ex-blaugrana striker Gary Lineker said of the club to Bobby Robson, who himself was hired under false pretences at the Camp Nou before being ceremoniously sacked, "That place is a madhouse".

As if the gods had got wind of this latest hubris, they not only made Barca throw away a 2-1 lead in the semi-final to go home and let their arch rivals lift the trophy, but also sent an injury to Luis Suarez, which will keep him out of action for the next four months.

Barcelona is a mess de un club tonight.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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