Barcelona defender Oscar Mingueza said the players had “stopped believing” under former coach Ronald Koeman and welcomed the appointment of Xavi Hernandez.
Mingueza, 22, was promoted to the first team by Koeman and made his full debut by the Dutchman, but believes a manager change was needed at Camp Nou as results deteriorated.
Koeman won the Copa del Rey in his first season at the helm of Barca, but was sacked in October with the ninth club in La Liga after a shock loss to Rayo Vallecano.
– LIVE Broadcast: Barcelona vs. Espanyol, Sat, 11/20, 2:50 p.m. ET, ESPN +
– La Liga on ESPN +: Stream live matches and reruns (US only)
– Football misery index: what remains at Barça after Messi’s exit?
“The team stopped believing in the idea and each tried to solve their own problems,” Mingueza told Catalan television station TV3 ahead of Saturday’s derby against Espanyol.
“We weren’t good individually or collectively. When the momentum isn’t good, everyone does what they can, but we also didn’t believe in what we wanted. I’m sure things are improving. now.
“The locker room needed a change. There wasn’t the atmosphere we needed. People weren’t happy. And when things aren’t going well and aren’t going well, you need a change. “
Xavi, who made 767 appearances for Barca as a player before leaving in 2015, replaced Koeman after leaving Al Sadd, whom he led to seven trophies in just over two years in Qatar.
“He will be very good for us,” added Mingueza. “The ideas he came up with are very good. He got off to a good start with the locker room. People believe what he says and that is very important.”
Xavi’s return has raised the mood around the club and drew parallels with the appointment of Pep Guardiola in 2008. Defender Eric Garcia, who played under Guardiola at Manchester City, can see similarities between the two coaches.
“I see elements of Pep and also [Spain coach] Luis Enrique in Xavi, ”Garcia told SPORT. “They’re similar in a lot of ways, more than anything in the way they see football.
“At present, [Xavi] is the right person for the job. He is a legend who knows the club well and he will help us all a lot. He’s been through those kinds of situations before and he’s a great coach. “
One of the first things Xavi did was reintroduce a series of rules that have gradually been dropped since Luis Enrique left the club in 2016.
Sources told ESPN that the former Spain international has reintroduced a system of fines, wants players to be on the training ground 90 minutes before training and, among other things, will monitor their activities outside of football.
“It’s totally normal,” Garcia said of the rules. “I had them when I was at City and it always takes a bit of discipline.”
Xavi will take charge of his first game against Espanyol at Camp Nou this weekend ahead of a home game against Benfica in the Champions League on November 23. Barca can reserve their place for the round of 16 with one game to play if they beat the Portuguese team.