Luis Enrique: Giving Barcelona a new dimension
When you think of a football team like FC Barcelona, one of the first words that comes to mind is domination. The squad exudes a powerful aura and has a set of core values imbibed in it, enabling it to play in a specific way. This was taken to a whole new level when Pep Guardiola took up the reins and won the club 14 trophies in four seasons, a feat which couldn't be matched by managers who followed in his wake. Enter Luis Enrique, who played for the team from 1996 to 2004. Here's how he brought FC Barcelona back to their dominant self, leading them to five titles La Liga, Copa del Rey, Champions League, European Super Cup and Club World Cup in a dream 2015.
Barcelona material, through and through
Enrique has been a successful player for Barcelona, knows the club well and has supreme ability to control the dressing room with great gusto. He is known to be a meticulous planner and a hard taskmaster as was highlighted during his work at clubs like AS Roma and Celta Vigo. Someone who has clear plans, Enrique is the perfect gaffer for FC Barcelona!
When Luis Suarez signed up a dream contract with FC Barcelona, some suggested that his persona could clash with Lionel Messi and Neymar, each of whom has huge reputations. Enrique made sure that the pair was given freedom and helped them to play better together. He knew when to ease off his rigid systems; something which was instrumental in Messi's shift to the right wing allowing Luis Suarez to play as the striker – the position he flourishes in.
'Countering' the threats
FC Barcelona have always been regarded as one of the most proficient attacking teams because of their ability to retain the ball, make incisive passes and deadly striking skills. Their defence and counter-attacking abilities were under some scrutiny. All this changed when Enrique assumed control, retaining Barcelona's potency, while enabling the defence absorb pressure better and adding an extra dimension with counter-attacking plans. This is amply demonstrated in matches against the Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich.
Rise of the multi-utility players
While FC Barcelona has been employing Total Football for many years now, seeing players don multitude roles is a treat to watch. Iniesta plays on the wings and Busquets fills in as a makeshift defender as well. The addition of Ivan Rakitic, we have seen him in various roles, may it be attacking the box or tracking back on the right wing. Sergi Roberto has been a revelation in this regard, playing in as many as five positions!
"When you look at it as a coach, the picture certainly changes! It really is complex and there are lots of difficulties. It's a profession that unfortunately I take home with me – you spend many nights thinking, 'X isn't working, Y ...' It's a very intense profession and it takes a lot out of you, but it's also exciting, it's got both sides of the coin,” Enrique told uefa.com.
“When you see your team do things that you've told them, you've communicated something and you see that the players have taken it on board and it pays off in the result, that reinforces the group's faith in you and is a very nice feeling,” he said, revealing how well he had transformed from player to coach.