Barcelona's Philosophy Will Be Restored If Luis Enrique Succeeds Gerardo Martino

Paul WilkesFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2014

SEVILLE, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 02:  Head coach Luis Enrique of Celta de Vigo looks on before the start of the La Liga match between Sevilla FC and Celta de Vigo at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on November 2, 2013 in Seville, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

It would be a huge surprise if Gerardo Martino was still in the dugout at the Camp Nou next season. The Argentine seems to be returning to his homeland in the summer after finding the job different from expectations.

"He's going to fulfil his contract," said sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta to Catalan television channel TV3, via Sky Sports. "Right now, he is our coach and I am very proud of his work." Martino himself has also stated in March: "I always respect my contracts," via the official Barcelona website.

If that document contains a break clause after one year (which it probably does), then they will both be telling the truth even if Martino leaves the club in the near future.

Then, on Monday, the meeting between Zubizarreta, Celta Vigo boss Luis Enrique, Barcelona's professional football coordinator Narcis Julia and technical secretary Albert Valentin was caught by Spanish television channel Cuatro, via Santi Gimenez of AS.

All denials look futile, and it doesn't help the matter anymore when you consider that Celta are Real Madrid's opponents on the weekend.

Of course, there is nothing to suggest that it's a done deal and that Barca aren't speaking with other potential candidates. It's possible that those who captured the event were tipped off by one of those present.

Either way, with Enrique's previous relationship with Barcelona and his footballing identity, the likelihood is that he will take over the reins.

Enrique started his career at Sporting Gijon and then spent five years at Real Madrid. After running down his contract, he joined Barcelona and added a further two La Liga titles to his collection.

His move from the Bernabeu was highly controversial, but he never hid from the backlash. He took a certain amount of motivation from his former supporters' abuse.

Former Real Madrid President Lorenzo Sanz felt his performances were provocative when it was El Clasico time. "If he wants, I'll cry when I score," suggested Enrique, per Marca. "I see myself on stickers and on television and I feel weird in white. I think the blue and purple suit me much better."

He never played under Johan Cruyff, but he did work with other exponents of the style in Louis van Gaal, whilst Pep Guardiola was a teammate. As Barcelona B coach he succeeded Guardiola and has been touted for the main position ever since due to his understanding of the philosophy.

There are reservations over his ability to manage such a huge club after an unconvincing year at Roma and a successful period with Celta Vigo.

Though, in Rome, he was looking to implement the complete system into a new club and country. His 12 months finished with Roma in seventh, but Brendan Rodgers did the same at Liverpool and then had them competing for the title in the following campaign.

At Celta Vigo he achieved four wins in the first five months of the league as there were teething problems, but nine victories in the last 18 matches has them sitting eighth in the table.

The fundamental components of Guardiola's overall method would be the same, although he will have his own ideas in terms of changing specific tactics.

Tactical variations are often confused with a team's style. There are many changes that can be made to alter a team without resulting to abandoning their principles.

After a year of an outsiders take on proceedings at the club, Barcelona need someone who will restore what made them so good.

In those terms he is the right manager for the circumstances, but questions will obviously remain on his ability to motivate and control a group of elite players. There is more to managing Barcelona than playing tiki-taka on the pitch.