SOCCER

Barcelona: new boss Xavi's list of 10 rules for his players and staff

New Barcelona head coach Xavi Hernández has made it clear that discipline will be at the heart of his tenure as Blaugrana boss.

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Barcelona: new boss Xavi's list of 10 rules for his players
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During his presentation as Barcelona’s new head coach, Xavi Hernández stressed that his tenure at the Camp Nou would be based around “discipline and high standards”. As part of that pledge, the legendary former midfielder is to impose a series of rules that he learned during his career as a player. “When there’s been order and discipline, things have gone well,” he told reporters on Monday. “But when we haven’t had order or discipline, everything has gone in the wrong direction and ended up badly.”

This newspaper can reveal the following list of 10 rules and mantras that the Barcelona dressing room and backroom staff will now be subject to:

1: Players must arrive for training an hour and a half before it starts

Until now, there had been a relatively relaxed attitude to the time at which the squad was expected to arrive for training, which tends to begin at 11am. From Tuesday, players will no longer be allowed to walk through the doors 20 minutes before the session starts. Everyone must be at the training ground 90 minutes in advance. The aim is to have plenty of time to prepare for training - this includes discussing aspects of the forthcoming session - and for the players to have breakfast. This means that from now on, players must be at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper no later than 9:30am. Barça’s matchday delegate, Carles Naval, will be in charge of monitoring the squad’s punctuality.

2: Backroom team must get in for training two hours before it starts

Keen to lead by example, Xavi wants his backroom staff to clock in 120 minutes before training starts, so that when the players start arriving, they’re ready to go.

3: Players must have lunch at the training ground

The players will no longer be able to decide for themselves: from Tuesday, all first-team footballers must have lunch in the training-ground canteen, under the supervision of the club’s nutritionists. Ensuring the players refuel properly can help to avoid injuries and improve their physical preparation.

4: Fines reintroduced

Since Luis Enrique departed as head coach in 2017, fines for minor, serious or very serious offences have disappeared, the argument being that the players are professional enough to know what they should and should not be doing. It’s true that this approach can work in the right conditions, but the reality can often prove less straightforward. Xavi experienced at first-hand the period under Frank Rijkaard when things fell apart amid a relaxation of rules, and the subsequent success of Pep Guardiola’s introduction of a strict code of conduct.

5: Exponentially-increasing fines

If a player arrives late for training, he’ll be given the lowest fine, 100 euros. If he then reoffends, he’ll have to pay 200 euros, followed by 400 euros, and so on. During Luis Enrique’s time as Barça boss, some players amassed 6,000 euros in fines in a single season.

6: Curfews in the 48 hours before a game

Within the two days before a match, players are prohibited from staying out later than 12 midnight. It is felt that squad members must be aware of the need to go into a game in the best possible shape, and one non-negotiable demand is that they lead a quiet lifestyle in the 48 hours leading up to a game.

Xavi is unveiled as Barcelona's new head coach on Monday.

7: Meritocracy

You play the way you train, and meritocracy is the only path towards success. Only those players who perform best and are the most committed on the training ground will be in contention to start on matchday. The rest will be consigned to the bench or, in the worst cases, watch from the stands.

8: Extracurricular activities will be monitored

The players can have other irons in the fire not directly related to their football careers, but if this begins to affect their performances - due to time and/or travel demands - the Barça backroom team will be on them like a shot. Long-haul plane journeys taken outside the player’s club commitments will only be allowed with the coach’s express permission.

9: High-risk activities banned

No more will Barcelona players be seen surfing or riding electric bikes. These types of activities will be considered very serious offences and clear breaches of contract, and will be placed in the hands of the club’s legal department.

10: Players must be positive representatives of the club

The players are a key element of the club and must be effective role models. They will be expected to be understanding of the fans and maintain an attitude that is above reproach. During trips, they must meet Barça’s standards of conduct and be positive ambassadors of the club at all times.