Luis Enrique signs on as Barcelona coach

By 07:49 Sat, 24 May 2014 Comments


Former Barcelona player Luis

Enrique promised a new start

for the Catalan club after

signing a two-year contract to

become coach on Wednesday.

Luis Enrique signed the deal

with club president Josep

Bartomeu two days after it was

announced by the club. That

was two days after coach

Gerardo Martino stepped down

when Barcelona finished its

first season without a major

trophy in six years.

"We believe that this is the

beginning of a new Barcelona, a

Barcelona that will excite

again," Luis Enrique said.

"When I left Barca the club told

me that it was a 'see you later'

and they have kept their word.

I can't wait to hear the hymn of

Barcelona in the Camp Nou."

The 44-year-old Luis Enrique

won two league titles as a

Barcelona player from

1996-2004 and coached its B

team from 2008-11. He also

coached at Roma, and led Celta

Vigo to a respectable ninth-

place finish this season after

installing an attractive passing

attack on the Barcelona model.

Luis Enrique's hiring continues

a recent tradition of in-house

coaches recently represented in

Pep Guardiola and Tito

Vilanova. That string was

broken when Martino was

hastily brought in last year

after Vilanova resigned to focus

on his battle with throat cancer

that he eventually lost last

month.

Luis Enrique is the club's

eighth former captain to coach

the club, joining such greats as

Laszlo Kubala, Cesar Rodriguez,

Johan Cruyff and Guardiola.

Although Luis Enrique was

never in the same class as

them, he will be only the

second former captain to coach

the club's B side and first

team. Guardiola is the other.

Luis Enrique asked not to be

compared with Guardiola, and

said his best quality as a coach

was being a leader, not as an

expert in tactics, despite his

insider knowledge of

Barcelona's ball-control

approach.

"I don't rely too heavily on

tactical knowhow, instead I

focus on managing a group,

managing egos," he said.

"There is work that goes on

during the week, work based on

knowing each player. I try to be

everything a leader is."

Luis Enrique's immediate goal

is to work with sports director

Andoni Zubizarreta and rebuild

a squad that has experienced a

slow slide over the past two

years.

"He is a coach that knows our

way of playing, our philosophy.

We believe that we have put

the squad that we are going to

build for next season in good

hands," said Zubizarreta, who

also recalled that Enrique had

"put a goal or two" past the

former Barcelona goalkeeper

when Enrique played for Real

Madrid.

Under Luis Enrique, Barcelona

will be expected to bring in

reinforcements to help Lionel

Messi, Andres Iniesta and

Neymar. And he won't be

measured — at least not

immediately — against

Guardiola, who won an

unprecedented six titles in his

first season and 14 of a

possible 19 in four years.

Luis Enrique acknowledged his

other challenge is helping

Messi rediscover the

competitive spirit that the

club's all-time leading scorer

appeared to lack during some

matches after recovering from

nagging muscle injuries last

season.

"I am thrilled to have the best

player in the world on my

team," Enrique said. "It's

obvious that Messi's output

this season wasn't as incredible

as in past years ... I hope that

with me he can find his best

version, but not only him, also

Iniesta and Neymar and the

rest."

Luis Enrique can draw on links

with three generations of

players, having played

alongside veteran Xavi

Hernandez, coached former B

team player Sergio Busquets,

and taken rising talent Rafina

Alcantara from Barcelona to

Celta on loan and now back.

Luis Enrique is one of the few

players to have enjoyed

successful stints at both

Barcelona and Madrid. He

occupies a special place among

Barcelona's faithful as the one

recent player to have left

Madrid for Barcelona, in

contrast to a group of former

stars who left for the Spanish

capital, including Luis Figo,

Bernd Schuster and Michael

Laudrup.


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