A major change will take place in the near future at Barcelona, as manager Luis Enrique announced this week that he will be leaving his position at the end of the season. The statement was made following the Blaugrana’s dominant 6-1 victory over Sporting Gijon, which now has the club atop the league table in the Spanish first division.
Luis Enrique Prepares for a Final Success with Barcelona
The announcement comes at a unique time for both Barcelona and the manager himself. During his press conference, Enrique explained that his decision was not made in haste and was given quite a bit of thought.
“During the pre-season, I had a meeting Albert Soler and Robert Fernández and I informed them that there was a chance of not renewing. They, on behalf of the club, reassured me that there was no pressure. That moment has now arrived and I announce it to you.”
Luis Enrique’s time at the Camp Nou as a player saw great success, and his first season as manager will certainly be unforgettable for supporters in Catalonia. Barcelona’s treble during the 2014-15 campaign earned him praise throughout the footballing world.
But there were always ominous signs during these periods as well.
Stories of a growing divide between the manager and superstar Lionel Messi would come about, as it seemed that the two figures often clashed in philosophy. Enrique’s popularity took several heavy hits thanks to issues such as this.
But now, with one final stretch left for him at the helm, Luis Enrique has the opportunity to walk away with a truly special performance.
The current campaign
The 2016-17 season has seen its fair share of disappointments, but the remarkable fact is that Barcelona and Luis Enrique could still find themselves finishing amidst a monumental triumph.
Wednesday’s thrashing of Gijon has the club first in La Liga, one point clear of second-place Real Madrid. The Cules captured the Supercopa de España with a 5-0 aggregate victory over Sevilla in August to begin their year.
Barcelona have also reached the Copa del Rey final, set to take place in May against Deportivo Alaves. But where the true magic could take place is in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16.
If Luis Enrique could lead Barcelona to victory against Paris Saint-Germain, down four goals from the first-leg fixture, he would cement an incredible status for himself and keep the club heading towards yet another massive trophy haul.
Unrest in Catalonia
During his time there as a player, Luis Enrique understood that any position at Barcelona comes under intense scrutiny. This is true both in a global and a local sense.
While the decision may date back to the pre-season, Enrique sensed that his time was up.
A loyal and patient personality, stepping aside now provides Barcelona the time necessary to choose the right candidate to lead the club moving forward into the future.
A strong legacy
His time in Catalonia is coming to a close, but Luis Enrique’s years at Barcelona both as a player and a manager should be remembered fondly. Rumours of replacements such as Arsene Wenger, Mauricio Pochettino and Jurgen Klopp will no doubt be discussed, but it should not take away from his incredible accomplishments.
A motivated and world-class side at Barcelona should look to send Enrique off with honour, even if past problems remain.
Luis Enrique will not be Barcelona’s manager next season. But with an opportunity to achieve the impossible now, the focus should be on what he can still do.