Barcelona are two points clear of fierce rivals Real Madrid in the race for the Spanish La Liga title, they face Athletic Bilbao in the Copa Del Rey final, and they are 180 minutes away from making the Champions League final, so it is fair to say Luis Enrique’s debut season as manager could be considered as a positive one despite a couple of turbulent events.
The former Barcelona midfielder took charge as head coach in the summer, after ex-boss Tata Martino was sacked following a season without a major trophy. Many had fears about whether the Catalan giants could respond following such a disappointing campaign by their lofty standards, but Enrique has silenced the critics. Barcelona last won the three major trophies under former manager Pep Guardiola in 2008/09, but could well repeat the feat six years on.
With the 2014/15 season reaching its conclusion, Barcelona are still on course to win the treble, which is a remarkable turnaround in such a short amount of time. Ex-Barcelona man Gaizka Mendieta was recently full of praise for Enrique, saying: “The majority of the credit goes to him. As a manager you learn every day, and I think that is what he has done at the club since the day he has arrived. He obviously arrived with some ideas for the team that he wanted to implement. And he then had to deal with the egos of the players. I think most importantly it has made him more disciplined tactically.”
They still have some work to do before their season comes to a close, as Real Madrid are maintaining the pressure on the Catalans in the La Liga table every week. Facing Bayern Munich – who are managed by Guardiola – in the Champions League semi-final will be far from easy, and Athletic Bilbao will be fired up in the Copa Del Rey final to come. Barcelona are certainly in a favourable position, but they cannot rest based on past results this season.
For Enrique, he could become a greater part of the club’s folklore if he can achieve such success as a manager, following in the footsteps of his success as a player at the Camp Nou. His reputation among the supporters would sky rocket, yet fans and players must be careful because the Spanish giants have eight games left in all competitions to make history.
They are on an impressive 14-game unbeaten run as things stand, and could welcome in a new era of success under another former legend of the club. Enrique is under no illusions. He knows he needs a trophy haul to become a mainstay, so he has set his mind on delivering success and is currently on course to achieve it.