Tactical Insights

The impossible job? Only a fool would want to manage Barcelona as Xavi becomes latest to be spat out by chaotic Catalans

The Blaugrana have employed eight different managers in 12 years, making a dream role appear increasingly difficult

After the rest of the Barcelona team headed towards the sideline, Pep Guardiola turned around, paced towards the centre circle, and had one last look around Camp Nou. He blew a kiss to the Blaugrana faithful, and offered a final wave as manager of the Catalan club. There weren’t many tears to be found, the legendary boss cutting a relieved figure as he strolled off his stomping ground for the final time.

The 100,000 Cules that chanted his name for minutes after he had disappeared down the tunnel in 2012 might have suspected that things would never quite be this good again. But they surely wouldn’t know how bad it would get. Barca have employed eight managers in the 12 years since Guardiola left; none have enjoyed the same connection with the Blaugrana faithful that Pep so expertly curated.

Yes, there have been trophies – including five Liga titles – and record-breaking seasons, but none of the coaches to take the helm have truly embedded themselves in the culture like Guardiola. Meanwhile, the club itself has become increasingly dysfunctional, with its relentless instability leaving Barca on the brink of bankruptcy just two years ago.

And now, with Xavi set to leave at the end of the current campaign, they face another reset. Barca will soon welcome a new manager, with new ideas, and, ideally, a clean slate with expectant fans. But Xavi’s successor is likely to face the same issues that have plagued many of those who have come before them.

Managing Barcelona, it appears, has become an impossible job. Taking it on – despite the size of the club – seems like a fool’s errand.

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