Barcelona are, for better or worse, married to a style. That style alters, it changes, but should a manager stray too far from either winning or what is perceived to be attractive football, there is no doubt it impacts on their job security.
The good news for Barcelona is that their current manager is following in the footsteps of two of their greatest ever. Along with Frank Rijkaard, Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique have defined the Blaugrana in the 21st century both in terms of success and aesthetic pleasure.
Current central defender Eric Garcia has played under both for Manchester City and Spain – according to him, Xavi Hernandez’s conception of play is along the same lines. Sport carried his words from an interview with TV3.
“Xavi is a mix of Guardiola and Luis Enrique. The idea of play that the three have is practically identical. Each one has their nuances, but it is about pressing after losing the ball and bringing the ball out. It is what has always characterised Barca.”
While this is not necessarily news that the same style is being pursued, in itself, it shows that behind the scenes Xavi is at least reminding Garcia of the other two.
Equally there are many more factors that will determine the success of Xavi, style aside. Unlike Guardiola and Luis Enrique, Xavi will have to find a way of winning without Lionel Messi.