Xavi Gives Luis Enrique Vote of Confidence but Barca Coach Must Stop Rotating

Rik Sharma@@riksharma_Featured ColumnistNovember 11, 2014

Barcelona's head coach Luis Enrique gives instructions to his players during the Group F Champions League match between AFC Ajax and FC Barcelona at ArenA stadium in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Peter Dejong/Associated Press

Luis Enrique just can't sit still. The coach has tinkered with his team in every La Liga game, putting out a different XI in each of the 11 fixtures so far. 

You might say that it's because the balance of his side is yet to be perfected. If that's the case then fine-tuning is needed, not wholesale changes, like he made against Almeria last weekend.

Sport's Ivan San Antonio took a look at the issue. He says:

Barcelona's line-up has not repeated in any of the first 11 games in La Liga. There are two theories to explain that. The first suggests Enrique has a commitment to rotation as a premeditated working method. The second is that he has not yet found his ideal line-up.

Both could, of course, be true. Occasionally Enrique's hand has been forced.

Javier Mascherano was sent off in the first game of the season, so he wasn't available for the next match.

Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press

Jeremy Mathieu got injured after the game against Celta Vigo and so couldn't feature against Almeria.

Rafinha, who started the first game of the season, has also been out for a long time.

The coach has been a little unlucky with injuries, although signing Thomas Vermaelen, who was already stricken, was just silly.

To some extent, rotation is important. Players need to be kept fresh.

Luis Suarez is likely to be firing on all cylinders come the new year, while other players start to tire.

That's because of the long, enforced rest he had this summer because of his suspension from football for biting Giorgio Chiellini.

Enrique has implied in press conferences that he knows what he is doing with regard to rotation.

The coach thinks it's a policy, and as San Antonio pointed out, "the club's rivals will know that Barcelona are going to try to win, but not HOW. He wants to use surprise as a weapon to win games."

Veteran midfield Xavi Hernandez hasn't always been on the right side of the rotation policy, but Enrique has his full backing. He said, per Sport:

He's a smart guy who has clear ideas and personality. We are 100 percent with the coach. His philosophy is to play well and win. Against Almeria we did not have our best game or play our best football. But we're on the right track and I mean that sincerely. I believe and the squad and staff believe, and if things don't go our way and we win, so much the better. This team has a lot of room for improvement, we have the humility to be self-critical.

Those words from Xavi will be important for Enrique, the other players and Barcelona's fans.

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Sometimes the best work is done behind the scenes.

If in a few weeks Barcelona suddenly start to click, it won't be fortune, but hard work put in on the training ground.

When the players are fresh at the end of the season, it's not because their fitness is superior, it's thanks to the rotation policy.

The problem with Enrique's methods at a club like Barcelona is that failure is not tolerated. They need to start working sooner, rather than later.

For now, after the international break, Enrique would be best advised to stop tinkering, find his best XI and stick with it. 

Of course, in some games a player can help with something specifically related to their opponents that the usual starter could not, and nobody's saying that Enrique shouldn't adjust to it. 

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

But Barcelona traditionally are good enough to play their team and make the opposition frantically scramble to adjust, modifying their own team and tactics. 

To get into a groove, Enrique should limit the changes and send his best men out there, week after week. 

This might not be a viable tactic in the Premier League, but La Liga has a winter break for players to recuperate.

Enrique needs a good string of results when domestic football resumes. The best way to achieve them is picking his strongest XI. 

Related

    Pogba Defended by Zlatan

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Pogba Defended by Zlatan

    Tom Sunderland
    via Bleacher Report

    Sadio Mane Doesn't Look for Attention, but He's Getting It

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Sadio Mane Doesn't Look for Attention, but He's Getting It

    Chris Bascombe
    via The Telegraph

    McGregor Has Love for Ronaldo and Solskjaer

    World Football logo
    World Football

    McGregor Has Love for Ronaldo and Solskjaer

    Christopher Simpson
    via Bleacher Report

    Zlatan Criticises Class of '92 and Cult of Fergie

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Zlatan Criticises Class of '92 and Cult of Fergie

    via mirror