Is Luis Enrique Really the Right Manager for Barcelona?

Jason Pettigrove@@jaypetti1971Contributor IJune 5, 2014

Given his record at the top level, were Barcelona a little hasty in appointing Luis Enrique?
Given his record at the top level, were Barcelona a little hasty in appointing Luis Enrique?Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Luis Enrique was recently announced as the new first-team manager at Barcelona in a blaze of publicity, and with his "selling point" very much being that as a former player, he knows exactly what the managerial role entails. Unlike previous incumbent Tata Martino.

For that reason alone, he is likely to be given a lot more time in the role to shape the team as he sees fit.

The board of the club may well feel that, after a full 12 months of having to dodge bullets from members, they have played a blinder in getting their man, especially as the news of Enrique's acceptance of the role tied in with players such as Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique extending their, not insignificant, contracts.

A good news day all round you might say.

"Lucho" certainly began his tenure in the right way. His first press conference was polished; every question was answered fully and honestly. In short, he had everyone eating out of the palm of his hand.

Supporters too, liked what they heard, reported via Alex Fisher of

'I'm aware there will be comparisons with Pep. I admire him and we're in touch, he has adapted great at his new club.

'Today is a very exciting day for me, a very special day, a day we start to build a new Barca. A Barca that can excite people.

'I am very happy to be here, the new season begins here, we've got things to decide, I am hoping we have got a great season ahead, but I know I have got a big task ahead of me.

'I am more than a manager, I am a leader, I am here to lead, leadership skills are very important.'

The former midfielder intends to implement his own attacking style but added he wants to strike a balance between their offensive threat and rearguard resilience.

'Attacking football is what Barca identifies with, that's what we play, what people have fallen in love with but we need to defend well too.

'Obviously I will bring things to the team because I have got my own ideas, but I am hoping for an attractive and effective Barcelona.'

His demeanour evoked memories of Pep Guardiola, but the new man in charge has a managerial record that is vastly different to his contemporary.

Any thoughts from supporters that the "new Pep" has arrived should be dispelled immediately to avoid the disappointment such a comparison will inevitably bring.

If we take a look at his record thus far, it makes for a mixed bag. 

Once Guardiola moved up to concentrate on first-team duties in 2008/09, Lucho was entrusted with the Barca B side that Pep had previously looked after.

His success in the role was almost instantaneous. The kids responded to his methods and after a fifth-place finish in his first season in the Segunda Division B, promotion was secured to the Segunda Division (or Liga Adelante if you prefer) at the conclusion of the following campaign.

His final season in the role was his most successful, guiding the side to a third-place finish whilst playing some sparkling football in the best traditions of the club. It was the best season ever recorded by a Barca B side, per

If Barca not already had their senior team in La Liga, then Barca B would have been promoted to the top division. Spanish football rules, of course, dictate that no club's second-string side can play in the same division as their senior counterparts.

Such a run of success alerted AS Roma, and despite not having any senior-level management experience, the Italian club offered him the top job. 

Lucho was offered the managers job at AS Roma despite no previous top level experience.
Lucho was offered the managers job at AS Roma despite no previous top level experience.Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press

James Horncastle via Zonal Marking noted the words of Roma's Sporting Director, Walter Sabatini:

The reason we chose Enrique is symbolic. Enrique represents an idea of football that we would like to follow, which imposes itself today through Spain and Barcelona…I was looking for someone outside of Italian football. Uncontaminated.

Whilst the reasons for the hire were admirable, it was a strange choice nevertheless. A gamble? Perhaps.

Ultimately it was a gamble that didn't pay off. 

There was certainly much to admire about the way that the Italians were playing under Enrique. Not entirely a "Barca-lite" but certainly echoes and influences from the Catalans style of play.

However, penetration in the final third was sorely lacking as was the pressing game for which Barca have become synonymous, detailed by Zonal Marking.

A short-lived tenancy in the role of just a season was because of numerous failures throughout that campaign.

After finishing sixth during the previous season, Roma qualified for the play-off round of the Europa League where they were undone by Slovan Bratislava.

Tenth place in the league about a third of the way through the season required improvement, and a seventh-place finish did just that. Yet, the Italians were one place worse off than the season before and as a result had failed to qualify for European football.

Sixteen wins, 14 losses and eight draws don't speak of a manager at the very top of his profession, which is what Barca require from their managerial staff. Rightly so.

His departure from Roma was inevitable; Celta Vigo was his next port of call.

Luis Enrique's time at Celta Vigo was acceptable without being excellent.
Luis Enrique's time at Celta Vigo was acceptable without being excellent.Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Depending on your point of view, Enrique either did well and got an under-performing Celta side not a million miles away from European football, or, once again, he just didn't quite cut the mustard.

The facts speak for themselves.

Fourteen wins, 17 losses, 7 draws and a ninth-place finish. Not quite a mirror image of his time at Roma, but not far off either.

Simply not good enough for Barcelona.

Clearly he works better with youth players, and that could be why he has immediately emphasised why he will give youth a chance at the highest level. Perhaps he doesn't have the capabilities to manage world-class individuals.

Those same individuals will get him out of trouble in the same way they did for Martino, of course, but is Enrique going to get found out again at Camp Nou?

Time will tell.


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