In just under a month’s time, on November 6, Xavi will celebrate two years in the Barcelona hotseat, having taken over from Ronald Koeman at a time when a new direction was sorely needed.
Though it would be unfair to blame all of Barca’s ills in 2021 on the Dutchman, his pig-headedness over some of his decisions certainly didn’t help matters.
When Xavi arrived it was like a breath of fresh air, albeit the former midfield ace didn’t have anywhere close to the managerial experience of his predecessor.
So what have we learned in the aftermath of his 100th game in charge, which came against Porto in the Champions League?
La Masia prominence returns
How good is it to see youngsters rolling off the production line at the club’s academy and being given a decent chance of cementing their place in the first team?
Fermin Lopez and Lamine Yamal are taking their first tentative steps in the senior side, while Pedri, Gavi and Alejandro Balde are already fixtures.
La Masia remains one of the pillars of the club and it must always have prominence.
Still struggling against Europe’s best
It was always going to take time for Xavi to truly make his mark in the role, particularly if supporters are going to continue to insist that every coach that comes post-Pep is measured against Guardiola’s time at the helm.
To say that’s unhelpful is an understatement.
With 63 wins from his 100 games, things are moving in the right direction, but it cannot be ignored that Barca are still struggling badly against the best teams in Europe.
The Catalans absolutely deserve to eventually be dining at that top table again.
However, Xavi needs to find the formula to get the team over the line in season’s big moments, which includes Clasicos, Champions League games and, if necessary, Europa League knockout games.
The Barca way shouldn’t be the only way
Xavi has already fallen into the trap of only playing a certain way - the ‘Barca way’ - and whilst that shouldn’t necessarily be criticised, there has to be an acknowledgment that there’s another way of winning when required - for example against a team employing the low block.
It’s accepted that the pressure to win with style will always be there, however, there are times when just getting the job done anyhow shouldn’t be frowned upon.
Far be it for me to laud our eternal rivals in any way, shape or form, but Real Madrid do have an annoying habit of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
There’s perhaps something to be learned there on occasion.