Xavi has backed Louis van Gaal’s “very direct” management style, while admitting he disagrees with Jose Mourinho’s win-at-all-costs approach.
The Barcelona legend worked under both Van Gaal and Mourinho as he was emerging through the ranks at the Nou Camp before going on to captain the Catalan club.
Xavi left Barca in the summer to join Al-Sadd in Qatar. He is also studying for his coaching qualifications and the 35-year-old spoke to Marca about the managers he has worked under, including Pep Guardiola and Luis Aragones.
Xavi remembers Van Gaal in a positive light: “I will remember him all my life, but for better not worse. He was very direct.
“One day he would bury you and humiliate you in front of the group and the next day he would tell me I was Zidane. That is the way he is and in time it has a positive effect.
“Under him I went from playing at Old Trafford to going to play at Alcoyano [in the third division] when he dropped me back down to Barca B. That is something that has been lost. Now if you are in the first team it’s is taken for granted that you will not go back down.
“That’s wrong. A kid of 18 years old has to, above all, play. That way when you get back in the first team you are more hungry than every to take your chance.”
Xavi admits he does not share Mourinho’s philosophy: “I respect him a lot although I don’t agree with his way of playing.
“He helped me a great deal in the three years he was at Barcelona. At that time we spoke the same language and believed in the same things.
“He came to the Barca B team and he coached us and worked with us according to the Barca philosophy. Now I he looks on another path – winning above all else. That is not our way of doing things. But I respect him and we have said hello to each other at various Ballon d’Or ceremonies.”
Xavi had praise for Aragones, who masterminded Spain’s Euro 2008 triumph: ‘He could grab you by the scruff of the neck and insult you but he was your friend and your confidant and tactically he was very advanced.
‘He knew he had to adapt the Spain team to the talent available. He knew he had to adapt it to myself, to Cesc [Fabregas], to Cazorlita [Santi Cazorla], [David] Silva, [Andres] Iniesta.”
Xavi praised Guardiola’s leadership qualities: “He convinces his players. If you see things as grey and he sees things as white, in five minutes he has convinced you to see them as white too.”