Since the departure of Barcelona coach Gerard "Tata" Martino over the summer, many of us were left searching for solutions to the current problems at the club. The global media already turned on us, claiming that we were witnessing an "end of an era" so to speak. The lack of discipline in the back line as well as other clubs starting to figure out how to stop our philosophy of total football. After a lackluster season and emotional roller coaster that was 2013-2014, is it really fair to claim everything the club has worked for has reached it's final destination?
In July 2014, former Sporting Gijon graduate midfielder and Barcelona B manager, Luis "Lucho" Enrique was hired to replace Tata Martino as head coach. Some fans were skeptical over the announcement. I, on the other hand, couldn't be more pleased by the hire. Along with remarkable signings this summer, appointing Lucho in charge of the first team was the best decision the board has made since the hiring of legendary manager, Pep Guardiola. Lucho, who replaced Pep Guardiola as manager of the B team back in June 2008, stated: "I have come home", and "I finished playing here and now I will start coaching here."
I strongly believe that Lucho's philosophy has not changed during his brief managerial career with AS Roma and Celta Vigo respectively. He understands and leads the way a manager should. He makes the training sessions fun, with the players smiling and enjoying themselves. That's what Barcelona is about. It's only been three weeks into the season, yet Barcelona are sitting in first place with a comfortable six points clear of bitter rivals Real Madrid in the standings while maintaining three consecutive clean sheets in La Liga. Most importantly, the confidence level is quite high with the players, coaching staff, and board. The defensive blunders of recent seasons seem to have subsided for now. The team is pressing better up the pitch, and working together in a way that's not as mediocre as it was last season. Lucho knows what's needed to press forward but also not allow mistakes at the back.
Barcelona didn't need a complete overhaul of beliefs and applications. They needed a balance and finesse to what they've originally had over the years and had under Pep Guardiola. We've seen this display on hand in every match this season. It's eerily similar to the way Pep Guardiola made decisions regarding starting squads, tactical changes along with substitutions. Implementing young La Masia graduates into the first team while allowing new signings to gel with veterans of the Guardiola era has been nothing short of brilliance. Is it too soon to announce that Luis Enrique is Pep Guardiola's 'second coming' ? Perhaps. It's only been three weeks into the new campaign. One thing is for certain, however, the team has not played this complete since the era of Guardiola and late manager Tito Vilanova (RIP). The new Barcelona squad is not the end of an era as the critics might have thought. It's simply a modification of the past "glory years" with new faces to match the old ones. For now, it's working.