I know, I know. It is too early to like Luis Enrique. He has one game under his belt, a 1-0 win over Recreativo Huelva. No official match yet, but there are LOTS of reasons to be a fan of the boss already.
The departure of Pep Guardiola left a hole in Barcelona. The guy who came out of nowhere and won everything while revolutionizing the way people saw and played football. The tiki-taka became the way to play; every team wanted to do what he did. It wasn't easy. Not even Barça could do it the way they did with Pep when he left.
Unfortunately, we never got to see what Tito Vilanova could do as a manager. His disease that tragically led to his death made us think what the team that won La Liga with 100 points could've become had the great Tito stay with us. But it was time to move on. Tata Martino came, and we already know how painful that experience was. It was a hurtful season, with lots of tactical problems and not a lot of leadership from the coach. No important titles because of that. The need of a drastical change.
We got it. Luis Enrique came in. And he has already showed his style, and why his style can be incredibly beneficial for the team. He knows the idol that he is, but he doesn't let that get over his head. Lucho's about working hard, being a leader and getting the best out of his players. Since Barcelona's preseason started, his focus on physical training has been incredible. He wants to get his guys tired. Only after the players reach a satisfying level, he'll focus on tactical lineup changes and technical aspects of the team.
"Wait, are you a fan of the guy just because he's making the guys run a lot?", you might ask me. YES!, I respond. He came into the team and showed that HE is the boss, and if he wants people to run, they'll run. If he doesn't want them to kick the ball for the entire day, they will not kick the ball for the entire day, and that's it.
What happens then is the players respect him. They know he's the guy who's leading them. As a player, you get comfortable when the coach doesn't rely on YOU to carry him and the team. The coach is leading the pack. The players believe in him. They'll listen to him. They'll run for him. They'll want to make him happy. They all win together.
At the same time, Luis Enrique is incredibly awesome. This is his FIRST EVER response to a journalist question in his official presentation. When asked how he defines himself as a coach, he said:
"Tall, handsome, likeable, Asturian."
HOW IN THE HELL CAN YOU F'N HATE A GUY LIKE THAT? Doesn't matter if you're a player or a fan, you feel good about him. He makes you laugh. Two minutes later, he's telling you to run a marathon with your mouth shut. You obey his commands. Because he is your coach.
Being a leader and a very nice guy at the same time defines awesomeness for a football coach. Luis Enrique embodies awesomeness. Let's hope it translates into a lot of wins and trophies.
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