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Spain-based football journalist Graham Hunter joined The Football Show to discuss Xavi and Barcelona.

Xavi the manager is proving to be a very different commodity to what Xavi the player was.

Barcelona beat Real Madrid on Sunday and became the Super Cup champions in Spain for 2023. The game finished 3-1, but Real Madrid scored their consolation in the final minutes. Before that, Gavi, Robert Lewandowski and Pedri had put Barcelona 3-0 up.

While Barcelona winning El Classicos is nothing new, the style in which they won the game is.

Xavi appears to be channeling some elements of Jack Charlton these days. The famously diminutive midfielder and the man who personifies the Barcelona way more than maybe anyone, understands the value in hoofing the ball upfield.

Graham Hunter joined The Football Show to explain this surprising approach.

"You're spot on [Xavi the player wouldn't like Xavi the coach," Hunter said.

"And he doesn't really like the way this is talked about at the moment. I think one, he's a bit fragile about it. He wouldn't call it an agent of change. He would say the fundamental philosophies [are still in place]...but in everything else he is being pragmatic. He is being modern.

"And that lumping the ball long against Atleti last week when they won 1-0 in the Metropolitano. The ball was played over Reinaldo's head so Dembele could chase it, which was a different use of the longer ball. Again, it was something you never saw in previous years at FC Barcelona."

Xavi in many ways is in the inverse position of Stephen Kenny. He's trying to bring a more direct approach to a team that historically turned its nose up at the direct approach. And that's bringing some negativity his way from the people in and around the club.

"When he explained it, there was a slightly defensive tone. There are hawks here, whether they are ex-players, the media or fans. They just don't recognize and don't accept the idea [that this is a good way to play]...sometimes it's necessary to be more direct.

"It's odd to witness. And for example, I don't think it would have any kind of similar effect in the tie against Manchester United.

"But against Real Madrid, I genuinely believe it was applied specifically because Xavi believed that particularly in the state they're in right now that Madrid couldn't cope. And he was proven absolutely correct. So it was a spectacular success for him."

"It's an affront to supporters" - Dominic King.


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