When the news filtered through that Barcelona manager, Luis Enrique was to step down from his position in the summer, there were managerial candidates already being shortlisted. As per the popular sports betting players, the likes of Ronald Koeman, Max Allegri, Jorge Sampaoli, Jurgen Klopp, Ernesto Valverde and even Antonio Conte have been earmarked to replace the 46-year-old in the Camp Nou dugout, but no one has spared a thought for poor Lucho.
The former Barcelona captain turned manager has won eight trophies in just over two and last seasons in the club, but is not held in the same esteem the fans used to rever Pep Guardiola. The Asturian will never be Catalan, as Pep was, but he crossed the divide from Madrid as a player and helped Barcelona win the Treble in his first full season at the club, something Pep also achieved.
His main criticism has come in the wake of a 4-0 demolition at the hands of PSG in the Champions League, where Los Cules displayed their worst performance under Enrique. The pressure from the fans, critics, players and even the board of Barcelona was rumoured to be the reason why the manager would not go on. He had had enough of people questioning his every decision. Enrique is not given fair share of praise his accolades deserve, while the relationship with Lionel Messi is rumoured not to be the best. The mercurial no 10 is given free rein at the club, and is above any coach’s reprimands. Enrique has decided he needs a rest but the situation at Arsenal could be too tempting for him to ignore.
There have been increasing calls for Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger to leave the club at the end of the season after yet another season without the prospect of being Premier League champions. It is unbelievable that a team of Arsenal’s stature have not won the league in over 13 years, and the fans are finally starting to turn on their most successful manager of all time, believing he has failed to catch up with more modern, scientific coaches like Antonio Conte and Jurgen Klopp. Arsenal need to overturn a 5-1 deficit suffered in the Champions League first leg Round of 16 clash against Bayern Munich, which is almost impossible, and also face a tough ask to qualify for the Champions League.
Success in the FA cup is still much possible, but Wenger is not looking like the unshakable force he used to be at the club, paving way for Arsenal to be linked to other managers. Names like Max Allegri, Eddie Howe and Diego Simeone have been bandied around, but with Enrique’s availability in the summer, it offers a new perspective into the discussion.
He is a proven winner, and will earn the respect of the players at the club. Enrique is an astute tactician who worked wonders in charge of modest Spanish side, Celta Vigo before proceeding to do great things at Barcelona. He’ll transform the club inside out with innovative training methods and club administrative delegations, and the players will be better for it, given his recent managerial record.
He could still yet win the Double as Real Madrid are currently floundering in the race for La Liga Santander and the Catalan club are expected to win a third straight Copa Del Rey when they face Alaves later on in the season in the Final. Enrique will relish the challenge of trying his wits against the likes of Antonio Conte, Pochettino, Jose Mourinho, Jurgen Klopp, Koeman, Bilic, Benitez and Guardiola, his former teammate whose adulation by the Camp Nou fans exceeded levels where they relegated Enrique’s achievements to the background.
No one will be more pleased to trump these managerial heavyweights than Enrique himself, and possibly earn the respect of Camp Nou fans who treated him shabbily. Arsenal also would be back in the trophy trail and will end all these years of hurt.