Will Enrique recreate the treble-winning success in Barcelona if he becomes Chelsea coach?

Luis Enrique has emerged as Roman Abramovich’s No 1 option to take over from Chelsea boss Antonio Conte.

The Italian’s job is on the line following Monday night’s humiliating 4-1 defeat at Watford and the Blues hierarchy are meeting to discuss whether to sack him.

If so, Luis Enrique, who has been out of work since leaving Barcelona in the summer, is in pole position to replace him.

Flavblist looks at how it might go for the man who failed at Roma but won the treble with Barcelona.

The famous post-Nou Camp sabbatical that is both needed and deserved after winning nine trophies in three years.

He has kept an extremely low profile since quitting at the end of last season to the extent that one weekend headline read: ‘Luis Enrique reappears in mountain biking event’.

‘Reappears!’ as if the 47-year-old had left his clothes in a heap on the shoreline and disappeared into the sea last June.

Mountain biking is his favourite hobby and he finished fourth in his category in Friday’s event despite competing alongside professionals and encountering some of the steepest climbs in Spain.

He is one of those rare coaches that can keep up with his players on the training pitch.

There was a big emphasis on monitoring players fitness in training in an attempt to preempt injuries at Barcelona.

Star turns such as Ivan Rakitic spent spells out of the team with no apparent injury but it was because he had shown early signs of fatigue.

It worked especially well in the first season when the team finished very strongly and won the treble.

He had a mutiny on his hands at the halfway stage, yes, and he had fallen out with the one player you do not fall out with. His squad rotation had come across as arrogant to some players.

When he gave Messi permission to take an extended winter break and then left him out of the first game of the New Year the situation reached breaking point.

David Moyes’ Real Sociedad beat Barcelona 1-0 in that game and the following day Messi called in sick for training – sick to the stomach of his coach.

There were clear-the-air talks with Xavi and it seemed a temporary ceasefire had been agreed until the end of the season when a change looked inevitable.

But Barcelona won the treble and Messi and Luis Enrique ended up embracing on the pitch after the Champions League final. He has that Conte fire in his belly but he also knows who to step back from the brink for the good of the team.

Gerard Pique summed it up best when he said: ‘We were in the s*** before he came, and then we won the treble.’

That was a reference to they way Luis Enrique inherited a team that was slacking badly under Gerardo Martino and he turned them back into the most potent attacking force in Europe.

He needed to change the way the team played so it wasn’t as straightforward as it sounds. The old obsession with passing teams to death until the obvious final ball became crystal clear had to be binned. Neymar and Luis Suarez needed the ball played much earlier.

The players were so content at the end that they even fancied the idea of his No 2 staying in charge. Carles Unzue had fallen out with Neymar but was popular with the rest of the players and for a while he had a chance to take the reigns.

He is now at Celta Vigo and it would be interesting to see if he would leave that post and join his old pal in London. He was king of the set-pieces so Chelsea would benefit from his expertise in that area.

He will be used to it. He had input at Barcelona but not a great deal. And often the more input he had the worse the signing turned out.

He requested Arda Turan be signed from Atletico Madrid to eventually replace Andres Iniesta – Barcelona’s worst signing in recent times.

He will not mind the lack of control as long as he feels he has a competitive group of players. And it’s not that he doesn’t ‘know’ a player when he sees one.

Sergio Roberto was a midfielder struggling to get first-team minutes until Luis Enrique turned him into a hugely impressive attacking right-back.

He’s a pragmatist. So he is not going to come in and demand that the team plays a certain system and that, therefore, certain players just don’t fit. He has favoured 4-3-3 or 3-4-3 in the past and Chelsea have the players to play that way without problems.

Abramovich courted Pep Guardiola for so long that if he now gets his hand on his successor at Barcelona you would imagine he’d want a Barcelona-style 4-3-3.

N’Golo Kante and Alvaro Morata would be two Luis Enrique would no doubt be excited about.

Celta Vigo played decent football and stayed up without problems, which is as good as can be expected at a club with such small resources.

Roma was bad timing more than anything else. Francesco Totti was still playing. He took him on, and lost. He is wiser now. And there is no Totti figure at Chelsea.

Well his name really is Luis Enrique Martinez. So Luis Enrique is his first name and his ‘football name’. Enrique is not his surname. But listen, if he’s on a small fortune at Chelsea and things are going well, you can call him whatever you like.

Call him ‘Lucho’ – he likes that.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s