The Pressure of the Managerial Romance: Klopp, Xavi, and their Relationship | Jonathan Wilson

The Pressure of the Managerial Romance: Klopp, Xavi, and their Relationship | Jonathan Wilson


Jurgen Klopp’s departure from Liverpool, Xavi’s departure from Barcelona, and the potential pressure on Thomas Tuchel at Bayern Munich are making headlines. In Spain, there are rumors that Mikel Arteta is considering his future at Arsenal. This summer could see a major shift in managers, with Roberto De Zerbi, Thiago Motta, Unai Emery, Hansi Flick, and Ruben Amorim all in the mix. As the saying goes, there are times when nothing happens for decades, but this summer could see a flurry of activity.

Klopp and Xavi have each won one league title, but their circumstances are distinct. Klopp has been the manager for almost nine years and has successfully elevated Liverpool to one of the top teams in Europe. While he has only won one league title, it is not a true reflection of his achievements as he has faced tough competition, including the near-impossible task of competing against Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Despite having fewer financial resources, Klopp has consistently been a strong contender, earning him a place among the top three managers in the history of the club.

Xavi will have spent three years at Barcelona. It is not completely accurate to attribute his one league title to luck as a manager of one of Spain’s top two teams during a weaker year for the other, and he should be acknowledged for creating a team during the chaos and challenges of last season. However, he will not be recognized as one of Barcelona’s greatest players.

However, both demonstrate the toll that the job can have, particularly for managers who develop a genuine affection for the clubs they lead. Xavi stated, “The feeling of being the coach of Barcelona is unpleasant and cruel,” when revealing his choice. Similarly, Guardiola also experienced this during his fourth season at Barcelona: the never-ending pressure, constant observation, and constant need to stay on top of everything can be draining.

However, it is considered a type of intoxicating substance. It is not solely for monetary purposes that numerous managers struggle to refrain from actively participating in the game. There is a clear explanation as to why Roy Hodgson, at the age of 76, continues to manage in the Premier League, why Dean Smith eagerly accepted the Norwich job only days after being fired from Aston Villa, and why Bill Shankly had second thoughts about leaving Anfield in 1974.

Klopp’s year-long break from coaching does not pose a threat to his popularity and demand. Regardless of how long he stays out of the game, he will still be sought after. However, if Germany were to have a disappointing performance in the Euros this summer and their current coach Julian Nagelsmann steps down, would Klopp be able to turn down an offer from the DFB if it came in July?

Jürgen Klopp said he had to “pull himself together” during an emotional win over Norwich at Anfield.

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Xavi’s situation is unique. What Klopp has accomplished means that he will be at the top of any team’s list, but the former midfielder may face more difficulties. Perhaps a remarkable victory against a declining Napoli in the Champions League round of 16 next month will improve his reputation, but his track record in Europe is lacking and he often seems shocked when other teams choose to defend against his Barça. How dare they hinder his team from playing in the correct manner? This attitude suggests a larger doubt: that he may be a coach following the principles of Guardiola without truly comprehending how to implement or modify them.

Israeli national team.

Barcelona is known for its unique approach to hiring, valuing philosophy as much as success. This is evident in their decision to appoint Frank Rijkaard in 2003, despite his previous experience leading Sparta Rotterdam to their first ever relegation. At the time, Rijkaard was also managing a lingerie company and contemplating an offer from the Israeli national team.

The country of Netherlands Antilles. This is the reason why they chose Guardiola as their coach after just one season with their B team and why they offered the position to Xavi despite his only experience being in Qatar. This is also why the possibility of Arteta being linked to the job, even without evidence, seems believable. As the manager of Arsenal, Arteta came from La Masia, Barcelona’s renowned academy, and learned under Guardiola. The question is why Arteta would be interested in the job at this time when Arsenal is improving and Barcelona is struggling financially with an unbalanced team.

Xabi Alonso has become a top contender for Liverpool, which is not surprising given his success with Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga. He has yet to be defeated in his second season as a senior coach, and has previous experience with Real Madrid’s youth team and Real Sociedad’s reserves. If Tuchel were to leave Bayern at the end of the season, Alonso may be tempted to take an intermediate step with them. However, Barcelona may be willing to overlook his past with Real Madrid, but the pull of returning to Liverpool would be strong.

The issue is that love brings added stress.