Pep Guardiola’s time at Barcelona may now be a thing of the past, but fans of the Catalan club still miss him greatly and will always cherish what he did. From the moment he left the Camp Nou there was an understanding that there would never be another manager like him.
Barcelona are now on their third manager since Guardiola left, hiring former player Luis Enrique early this summer. Though the “Lucho” reign is just beginning, it is never too early to start discussing just what type of success the club should expect.
Will Enrique be the next great Barcelona manager? Can he ever reach the success of Guardiola? It seems unlikely at this point, but that happens to be exactly what the Bayern Munich coach thinks for himself.
In a recent report from Sport (h/t Goal.com), Guardiola praised the new Blaugrana boss: "Of course he can match me at Barcelona, I think very highly of him. He will do a better job than I did. It is important for Barcelona to have its own identity again, a philosophy that we all recognize. I think we will see just that under Luis Enrique."
With such high praise from the likes of Guardiola, it is difficult to not be overly excited about the new era under Luis Enrique. Yet the question still remains: Can Lucho match the success that Guardiola enjoyed at Barcelona?
At first glance, the goal should not be to attempt to match that success. Barcelona are a completely different team now, and looking to the past will only stunt the growth of the club. Above all else, Enrique should target success, not Guardiola.
However, if we are looking at ways for Lucho to eventually reach the heights of Guardiola, he has to start with winning trophies this season.
Barcelona have been struggling for a few years now, and winning silverware has gotten harder each season. In his first term at the club, Enrique must look to win at least one major trophy, while also competing well in all competitions.
Of course, this is not easily done. The Champions League will be as difficult as it always is, and La Liga will be a tight race to the very end. The Copa del Rey will be the easiest title for La Blaugrana to win, but to many it would be a disappointing season if Barcelona only lifts the King’s Cup.
For sure, winning a major trophy has to happen this season to prove that Enrique is a successful manager who has the club on the right track. Yet that alone won’t allow him to eventually reach the levels of Guardiola.
Possibly more important than winning titles is how Barcelona play.
The Catalans have a reputation for playing a very distinct style of football that most fans want to see continue. Winning trophies will be a great thing for the club, but it will be even bigger if the Blaugrana keep their identity while doing so.
Enrique is not the same type of manager as Guardiola, but he is a fan of pressing football and attacking through possession. His style of football may not be visible quite yet, but it will come soon.
Furthermore, Enrique must continue the Barcelona model of utilizing La Masia to the fullest. Every great coach that has managed the Catalans has brought talented young players up to the first team, and Enrique is expected to do the same.
More though than the average manager, Enrique is a fan of using young players. Munir El Haddadi and Sandro Ramirez have already made their debuts this season, and the likes of Sergi Samper and others could follow suit very soon. La Masia is loaded with brilliantly talented young stars, and fans expect Lucho to give them their chances to succeed.
Also, with the transfer ban now in effect, La Masia will become more important than ever.
When it all comes down to it, comparing Luis Enrique to Pep Guardiola isn’t healthy. Both are completely different managers, like they were as players. The era of Lucho has now begun, and that should be the focus of the club and the fans.
If Barcelona continue to look at the past, then that is exactly where they will stay. Guardiola is gone but will surely never be forgotten; Enrique has just arrived and should be given full support by the Blaugrana faithful.
Can Enrique reach the level of success that Guardiola did? It will be very difficult, but who is to say it is impossible? The real question is whether or not Enrique will bring success to Barcelona, not meet the mark of someone else. A new era has begun at Barca, and the focus is on the present and the future at the Camp Nou.
Will Luis Enrique take Barcelona to unrivaled success? Is it fair for managers to be held to the same standard as Pep Guardiola? Leave your thoughts and comments below!