Luis Enrique – The Scapegoat For Barcelona’s Failure
Luis Enrique is on the spotlight on every sports website, being considered by many the main reason for Barcelona’s decline. The 44 years Asturian head coach is blamed for completely destroying the atmosphere in Barcelona’s locker room and for his bad tactical decisions. Is Luis Enrique the main reason why the stellar Barcelona lost its edge?
Luis Enrique was labelled as the new Guardiola in 2011. His 2008-2011 Barcelona B’s reign was full of success, promoting the team in the second Spanish division in 2010, after 11 years. Furthermore, Luis Enrique led Barcelona B to the highest-ever position in Secunda Division in 2011. Despite leading the team to a playoff position in Secunda, the team was ineligible for promotion.
The Asturian decided that it’s time to go to a bigger team and was unveiled as Roma headcoach in June 2011. It was a season that demonstrated Luis Enrique’s the limitations, finishing 7th in Seria A and being eliminated by Slovan Liberec in Europa League’s playoff. Moreover, the Spanish headcoach had very tense relationship with Roma’s stars: Totti, De Rossi and Osvaldo. Luis Enrique showed again that he has troubles in managing the atmosphere in the locker room in 2013. The Asturian had problems with Celta’s senior players, especially with Borja Oubina.
Luis Enrique can be blamed for some poor signings and bad tactical decisions at Barca. The Asturian insisted in signing Jeremy Mathieu, for which the club paid € 20 million. The French defender is a good player, but the sum paid for a 30 years player is outrageous and Mathieu certainly showed his limits in many occasions. The management believed that Luis Enrique will continue the tiki-taka, but the Asturian struggled in finding a constant lineup. Enrique constantly changed the first-11 and thus there was no team cohesion. A team that has the same starting 11 in more than a dozen matches is certainly glued and real game relationships are established, but if players are always always changed, then you can not expect them to play very well. The result: a Barcelona that struggled to score and with huge defense problems. How can you start a game without Messi and Neymar if they are fully fit? The 44 years old is apparently in conflict with Barcelona’s god: Lionel Messi. As a result, there is not a good atmosphere in Barcelona’s locker room, with too much tension and speculations regarding which players no longer support Enrique. Enrique did not learn anything from Roma story, where he was the enemy of the locker room and as a result the team struggled. He needs to understand that some iconic players need to be kept happy, because they really make the difference. Happy players like Messi, Iniesta and Xavi create magic and fans are happy, but if these players are not respected then their dissatisfaction is transposed on the field and they underperform. Another absurd decision is why he is not giving more chances to Montoya. With Dani Alves ending his contract in July and with the transfer embargo, Barcelona needs to find someone in-house to cover the rightback position. Martin Montoya is the only viable option and he can improve a lot if he has the chance to play regularly. But no, Luis Enrique prefers to play with Dani Alves, who is past his best moments and only his shirt’s name tag keeps him in the team.
But Luis Enrique is not the only one to be blamed. He is just a part of a failing strategy. Andoni Zubizarreta conducted a failing transfer strategy. His actions on the transfer market resulted in a transfer embargo for Barcelona until January 2016. Moreover, in the last transfer window Zubizarreta chose to sign an injury prone defender, Vermaelen, who had only 1 more year of contract with Arsenal, while the signing of Douglas was pointless. The 25 years old Brazilian fullback was signed to be directly sent to the second team.
Moreover, the sink of the Catalan team is due to poor top management. The management knew that Luis Enrique is not a top coach, but they went for him expecting to be the new Guardiola. Well, it is impossible to always find a headcoach like Guardiola. Sandro Rosell changed the whole strategy for Barcelona, but his actions were more than questionable. Rosell had to resign because of misappropriation of funds in the Neymar’s transfer.
To sum up, Luis Enrique is just a scapegoat for a failing transfer policy led by Zubizarreta and Rosell’s poor management. It is true that Luis Enrique make it difficult for himself because he is in conflict with Lionel Messi and other top players from Barcelona. In order to save the boat and his reputation, Enrique needs to learn from these lessons that top clubs have star players that need special treatment, otherwise they underperform. If these players underperform and are always unsatisfied, they choose to leave and the fans will want the headcoach’s head. Without good results, Luis Enrique will never resist to fans’ pressure, so either he changes his relationship with the locker room or deliver some unexpected results.