When Luis Enrique took over at Barcelona there were mixed emotions at his appointment in some quarters.
Whilst it was essential that Barca recruited from a pool of staff with some experience of what it means to play at the club, and to that end most supporters were happy, there was a noticeable reticence because of Enrique's record elsewhere.
At his previous managerial appointment, Lucho had brought a style and panache to the way that Celta Vigo played, but his tenure was far from successful.
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The Galicians lost as many as they had won and there wasn't really a marked improvement on the team from the previous campaign.
During that time Enrique was at Roma, but the Serie A giants quickly dispensed with his services when he finished a place lower than the season beforehand and lost far too many games without even putting up a fight. Even Lecce, who were demoted to Serie B at the end of that season, had outclassed the Giallorossi.
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In any event, Andoni Zubizarreta had made his move, and Josep Maria Bartmoneu rubberstamped the deal to bring ex-captain Enrique back to the club he served with aplomb in the nineties.
Losing to the likes of former club Celta at home for the first time since 1977 and to Real
Sociedad at the Anoeta didn't go down well with the locals.
Especially when the team news for the latter saw both Messi and Neymar benched for the first game back in to the New Year.
The fall out from that particular game lasted a good while until the manager started turning results and performances around.
His fondness for rotation stopped and failures to beat both Malaga and Getafe earlier in the season were forgotten as a settled side went on a record-equaling winning streak of 11 games in a row.
Malaga did manage the unthinkable and also escaped from Camp Nou with a victory but it remains Barca's only defeat in the last 19 games since losing at Sociedad. Not only that but the other 18 have all been wins, including two against Manchester City, three against Atletico Madrid - a
team who they couldn't beat in six last season - two against Villarreal who are always a tough nut to crack, and an El Clasico victory this past weekend.
Barca have adopted different styles throughout the season too, including playing on the counter attack when necessary which is almost unheard of in Catalonia.
Importantly it's worked and the manager should get the credit for the same.
Similarly, integrating Luis Suarez into the side alongside Neymar and Messi was always going to take time and effort, but Enrique has somehow managed it.
Before anyone says "well anyone can manage that team," it's worth remembering that Tata Martino could not. And that was before Suarez's arrival.
At the turn of the year Enrique was public enemy number one. Not now.
Whether or not the season ends up being a success, Luis Enrique has shown enough in his management of this squad that he is up to the job.
His Barca are still in the hunt for the treble and if he brings it home then he'll be feted in the same way as Pep Guardiola before him.
Can Luis Enrique make Barcelona the same force they were under Pep Guardiola? Tell us by leaving a comment in the box below!
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