Xavi reveals decision after controversial defeat by Villarreal
‘This will ease the tension – I don’t want to be a hindrance’
Xavi Hernández has announced that he will step down as coach of Barcelona at the end of the season and said he felt “liberation” at walking away from a job that he described as “cruel and unpleasant”.
He will not continue beyond 30 June this year, even though his contract runs until the following summer. The former captain, midfield legend and footballing ideologue insisted the club needed a “change of direction” and that he could “not allow the situation to continue”, as a crisis of results and performance continues. He called the decision “common sense” and said that, “as a Barcelona fan”, he felt that in leaving he was doing “the right thing”.
“You often feel there is lack of respect, you feel that your work is not appreciated,” Xavi said. “It wears you down terribly, in terms of health, of mental health, your mood, your emotional state. I am a positive guy but the energy goes down, down, down, until the point at which you say: it makes no sense. It makes no sense to continue. That’s how I explain it.
“I decided it some time ago; the people closest to me know. It’s a situation that I think affects the club now. It affects me but when it affects the club I think I have to leave.”
Xavi confirmed the news following a “human” conversation with the club’s president, Joan Laporta, after a 5-3 home defeat against Villarreal left them 10 points behind the league leaders, Real Madrid, but revealed that he had taken the decision a few days ago. Xavi said he had not told the players, who have been playing with “too much tension”, and insisted that there was no way that he would continue, even if Barcelona won the Champions League. There would be no problem over his contract, he said.
Barcelona were knocked out of the Copa del Rey with a 4-2 defeat at Athletic Bilbao in midweek. That result followed a 4-1 loss at the hands of Madrid in the final of the Spanish Super Cup. They had also conceded four to Girona just before Christmas. “This decision will help free up the team,” he said.
Xavi eventually appeared in the press conference room over an hour after the final whistle on Saturday night. “I would like to announce that on 30 June I will not continue as coach of Barcelona,” he said. “We have been talking to the president, with Rafa Yuste [the vice-president], Alejandro Echevarria [an adviser], Deco [the sporting director] and part of the staff.
“The situation needs to change and as a cule [a Barcelona fan] I can’t allow this. I took this decision days ago, but it is time to make it public. I don’t want to be a problem for the club. [I am] thinking about the club, the good of the players, and the directors. As a club man, I think the best thing to do is go on 30 June. I will give my best in these four months; I still think we can complete a great season. I take this decision calmly; it’s common sense.”
Xavi took over from Ronald Koeman in November 2021 and led Barcelona to the league title last year, in his first full season, but their performances and results have been poor this season. He said he did not have an explanation for that. He also noted that journalists had previously asked him if he could become Barcelona’s own Alex Ferguson and continue in the post for many years; “but that’s impossible here”, he concluded.