The A-Z Barcelona Story - Who's the Boss?
How does a football club go from being the biggest force standing against a dictator to having their stadium destroyed by an air striker to creating one of the most beloved football styles in the world to dominating the football world, and then to struggle for a spot in the Champions League is a league where not many clubs compete for it?
The short answer is Barcelona.
The long answer is what I have spent the last few months researching. The A-Z Barcelona Story is a series in which I will attempt to summarize the entirety of Barcelona's history and explain many actions the club made throughout history. Starting with
Who is the Boss?
This post will not analyze Barcelona's on-pitch performance as I have already seen a few posts breaking it down. I have a lot of positive things to say and a lot of negative things to say. This post will only cover the off-pitch actions and attempt to explain them, and what do they mean for Barcelona's future.
How Did Xavi Become the Manager of FC Barcelona?
It was only a few months before Xavi joined Barcelona that the Spaniard himself thought he wasn't ready for the job yet. He had rejected the Barcelona job at least two times prior, so, what exactly changed?
Joan Laporta's Big Lie
There's no nice way of putting this, Joan Laporta deceived everyone. His entire win of the election was based on promises that no one knew whether or not they were possible, not even Laporta himself. The reason for that is obvious, no one knew Barcelona's financial situation before that.
When Laporta won the election and failed to come through with his promises as expected, he started blaming other people, including Messi himself, so he wouldn't look bad. Some people, including myself at some point, defended Laporta by saying that he didn't know the financial situation. However, that's more of a reason for him to not make those promises in the first place.
The Complications with Koeman
When things reached a dead-end with Koeman, Laporta resorted to Xavi, someone he himself wasn't that convinced of bringing in the first place. So, we get back to the original question; How did Xavi become FC Barcelona's manager? The answer is more political than you might think.
Laporta couldn't find another manager to come in, so he went to Xavi, not even as a resort, but the only one. Xavi's appointment does a great job of silencing Laporta's critics. The Sandro/Bartomeu management have messed things up in a very bad way, and the second in the run had actually promised to bring in Xavi no matter what. Thus, Laporta successfully closed any window for criticism.
The second question is why would Xavi take the job after rejecting it? the answer to that will also be the answer to the main question in the post. But, before we get there, there's another question to answer.
How In-Control is Laporta Exactly?
In an Archhyde report that was later reported by the ABC, the story of how Messi left Barcelona was told. If things in this report are true then there's a rather terrifying thing happening in Barcelona.
The CVC deal is something that has been a talking point in the mouths of everyone following La Liga. It is currently being changed for a reason we will discuss throughout this segment.
Laporta recently talked about the necessity of changes on the deal. However, according to the report by Archhyde, Laporta was planning to agree to the CVC deal in its original form.
There are a lot of names in the upcoming part.
According to the report, in the early days of August Laporta had a secret meeting with Javier Tebas, president of La Liga, and Jaume Roures, CVC man in Spain. That meeting happened without the knowledge of Barcelona's club director and sporting director. He had also informed Jorge Messi, Lionel Messi's father, and agent, that he should fly to Spain for the renewal.
On the other side, Florentino Perez learned of the meeting and instructed Real Madrid's CEO Jose Angel Sanchez to inform Barcelona's management of the meeting. Laporta was later forced to back out of the deal by Eduard Romeu.
Sidenote: The reason Florentino Perez opposes the deal is that he found that within 11 years of the 50 year-long deal, the La Liga giants would actually start losing profits.
Eduard Romeu is the vice-president of Barcelona, a job he got by providing Laporta with 34 million out of the 124 million a Barcelona president is required to present in order to be able to run as insurance. Romeu threatened Laporta that he would pull out his money if Laporta didn't back out of the deal. Laporta did what Romeu told him.
Albert Soler, current General Director of Sports of the Higher Sports Council, is the man currently rewriting the CVC deal. Albert Soler is also the previous club director of Barcelona.
What do we Make of All of This?
I know those were a lot of names. But, the point of that part is to point out the fact that Barcelona's president had little control. He was a man with a gun to his head. The latter part concerning Albert Soler shows that he gained some leeway as the CVC deal is being rewritten.
The other conclusion is that Laporta is simply unqualified as president. Unlike, Florentino Perez, Laporta overlooked the part where the deal would start eating at Barcelona's future profits. The amazing part is Joan Laporta is a lawyer. His profession is literally studying deals like that.
This leads to the main two questions of this post
- Who is the boss at FC Barcelona?
- Why has Xavi taken the job?
And adds another one
- What does it mean for the club's structure
The Scapegoat, The Boss
It is a political transaction. Laporta got the board off his back with the CVC deal adjustments. He also got the critics off his back by hiring Xavi as manager. By making Xavi the manager, Laporta gave up a lot of powers, the point of that is for Laporta to make Xavi the scapegoat since it can't ever be Laporta's fault.
However, in those series of actions, Xavi has become the boss of Barcelona at the moment. Yes, if things go bad, he will be the first to go, but until then, whatever Xavi says goes.
The point of this part isn't to say whether the decisions are good or bad, but rather to show how the club is now structured.
Xavi's appointment came with the signings of people he saw as trustworthy. Barcelona's current fitness coach is Iván Torres, an old friend of Xavi. Before his current job, Ivan's career as a fitness coach at Bahrain's U23, AEK Larnaca, APOEL Nicosia, Leeds United, and finally Al-Sadd with Xavi. Not exactly a great career.
Xavi's current assistant coach is Òscar Hernández, Xavi's brother. Òscar had no job since retiring as a footballer in 2007, he only got a managerial role in Qatar's Aspire Academy in 2015 thanks to Xavi, he later became his assistant at Al-Sadd.
Xavi, a manager, has sacked the head of the medical department along with other key figures to rehire the old team during his Barcelona tenure as a player.
Xavi, a man who doesn't use data, decided that Barcelona should work with his football software company Kognia. The software was developed with Xavi's old mentor Joan Vilà. The idea of the software is that analysis the game as it runs. That sounds like a great idea, however, that decision resulted in a lot of resignations in Barcelona Innovation Hub.
Barcelona Innovation Hub is one of the best, if not the best sporting and developmental analytical hubs in the world. Barcelona Innovation Hub has been waiting for the time that the old management leaves as all their work was going to waste since the Batromeu management was only doing mindless signings.
Finally, because of Xavi, Barcelona's tactical director resigned lately.
It is still early to say whether the changes will be good or bad. But, there was a lot that happened in Barcelona in the last few months. The problem is that politicking has shifted the entire structure of the club and made a lot of changes that are at best uncalculated. Not a club in the world has given a manager so much power without suffering severely in the long term.