Last year everything went wrong for Barca. They had their worst season since the 2007/08 season, without winning a major trophy, and much of this was down to a lack of leadership at the club.
They appointed Tata Martino who was far from inspiring and commanding and, unfortunately for him, he never grasped what Barca was all about as a club.
What the club really needed was someone who knew their ways and their philosophy, therefore they preferably needed an ex-player.
Luis Enrique: Mix of Mou and Pep
Step in Luis Enrique. The man they describe as a mixture of Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola; the man Barca really should have appointed last season; the man who loves
the club and everything it stands for and has publicly declared his hate for Real Madrid, even though he played for them before he joined Barca.
Enrique has the intelligent, philosophical ideas of Guardiola and the stubborn, no-nonsense personality of Mourinho, which is potentially the perfect combination. That's how it seems so far.
He has come into the club and brought back the much-desired and much-missed tiki-taka, attacking, beautiful football - something that went missing last year completely as Martino tried to get Barca to play direct football.
The pressing and get-the-ball-back-in-about-6-seconds is back as well. This time the players want to play for Enrique. He has made them work hard and is a very commanding figure who the players look up to and completely respect.
Giving the kids a chance
He is giving the La Masia kids a chance and so far it has paid off - both Munir and Sandro have stepped up to the first team and scored on their competitive debuts.
But probably the most important thing he has done, which will definitely get Barca back to winning trophies, is re-inspiring Messi. He has made it clear that the team shall once again be formed around Messi to get the very best out of him and has made him feel wanted once more.
It also helps that Messi - along with Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets (all home-grown players) - has been selected as one of the club captains. Messi thrives on confidence and, after a discussion of him possible being sold last season when Rosell was President, he must be relieved to feel loved again.
Messi is running, tackling, dribbling, scoring, and making great passes once more - just like in the old days. This will be hugely important to Barca as he is the best player in the world and, when at his best, makes Barca an oustanding team, rather than just a great team. And as Marc Bartra said after the first game of the season against Elche: "If Messi runs, we all run".
Rules back in place
Last season all the rules that Guardiola and Tito Vilanova had established all disappeared. There were no rules. Players turned up for training late with no punishment enforced upon them; the fitness levels decreased as there was no intensity in training; players were allowed to drink alcohol at any time and eat what they wanted. And this, as well as their matches going badly, all made for a very unhappy dressing room.
But now Enrique has put all of Guardiola's rules back into place. Players must turn up on time, otherwise they will be fined and that money will go to a local charity/hospital; the training is extremely intense; alcohol is forbidden. No doubt there are lots more rules too. And this year the family, happy atmosphere is back in the dressing room. What a difference a few months makes.
Enrique: The next Guardiola?
To help out Luis Enrique this season is the President of the club, Josep Bartomeu. When he took over after Sandro Rosell resigned, everyone thought he was going to be exactly the same as Rosell. But no. He has his own ideas and has done all he can to get Barca back on track this season.
It seems that, unlike Rosell, who was only interested in the financial terms, he actually cares about the essence of the club as Joan Laporta did before Rosell took over. Those are my first impressions of him but we will see if he carries on the like this in the near future.
The "Mes de un Club" essence is back at Barca.
Overall it sounds an awful lot like Guardiola is back, doesn't it? Let's hope Enrique has the same success as the most successful Barca coach in history.
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