Who next? Part 2, Luis Enrique
In this series of articles I look at some of the favourites for the manager job at Arsenal, I look into the tactics and players they may fit into the side should they join. The first profile looked at Allegri. This second part we look at the bookies favourite….Luis Enrique, he won 9 trophies in 3 years at Barcelona as well as having a better points per games average than Pep Guardiola’s legendary Barca team, just to give you an idea of the calibre of the man.
To know Luis Enrique as a manager you need to go back to his first job when he took over from Pep Guardiola at Barcelona B in 2008, they had been outside of the Segunda Division or the Spanish second tier for 10 years. A team of young players, playing nice football but happy to be making the numbers up until they get older and the Barcelona main team gives them a chance.
Luis Enrique was almost offended by the idea of his team not being competitive, he came in and was concerned about every individual at the club, the players, the coaching staff, probably even the tea-lady, and he wanted every person united as one big team.
In his second season he managed to get Barca B promoted back to Segunda Division after 11 years, playing some fantastic football, in fact in his third season he got them to the play-offs that would have meant them playing in La Liga if not for them being a B team.
His team ethic philosophy is summed up in one quote where he said “ this is football, its a team sport, we can’t have a player who has a personal goal that comes before the group, players who only think about personal objectives, Vroom they’d soon be out of here “. Obviously, Harry Kane would not last long under Luis Enrique.
Following his time at Barca B he managed Roma which didn’t quite end how as he hoped, as Roma were knocked out of the Europa League by Slovan Bratislava, a game which saw him get much criticism for substituting club legend Francesco Totti. In making the substitution, he showed he is not one for pandering to big egos or names, merely going for what he sees as the best idea at the time. Sadly, the season finished with Roma outside of European competition placing in the league and Enrique decided to leave saying he was drained and exhausted from giving all he had to the team.
This complete undiluted, determined, commitment is what seems to be the story of Luis Enrique, he thinks so much, cares so much, gives so much to the team and he absolutely expects the same from his players.
Following an impressive year at Celta Vigo, Luis Enrique went on to manage Barcelona winning the League, Champions league and Copa del Rey, in his first season. When he took over at Barca he inherited a team similar to Arsenal right now, a team devoid of confidence, purpose, direction yet full of talent and quality. People have talked what Luis Enrique managed to achieve at Barcelona down a lot but he galvanised the group, managing each individual to keep the mood of the group high and determined.
Another point also is his attitude towards the press which is ironic considering the amount of them trying to write about him as Arsenal manager right now, let’s just say he doesn’t like the press I in fact he banned certain members of the press following his teams due to them being so biased and negative.
Tactically Luis Enrique adherers to the Johan Cruyff, Barca mantra of attacking fluid football that Pep Guardiola is lauded for at Man City but with some important differences.
Enrique like to add a more direct style of play to the already good formula, playing long balls, crosses and getting the ball in the opposing half quicker than even the current Arsenal team are doing.
Playing a traditional 4 3 3 formation with lots of transitional changes depending on situations as you see here in the first picture the full backs, attack and press high and wide, as the wingers tuck in field to outnumber the defenders and create an overload and dominance.
Importantly as you can see in the second picture, the team separates into almost two sections with the defensive midfielder (Busquets) dropping back between the centre backs to be a temporary centre back during the early phases of build-up play. The second half of the team, which includes strikers, full backs and central midfielders press high up to outnumber the opposing teams defence. Outnumbering is important in the Luis Enrique press system as it leaves the opposition with very few options and often means his team win the ball high up and away from their own Keeper.
When on the back foot his Barca team would create numerous waves of players pressing and in positions to defend depending on where the play is based as seen in the third picture.
As for Arsenal obviously the player that sticks out in my proposed Luis Enrique era team is goalkeeper Jan Oblak, only last week did we see first-hand how good he can be on his day, but also and importantly he is good with the ball at his feet, which Enrique seeks in his keepers. In defence as with the Allegri team, I expect the Greek dominant centre back, Sokratis to replace Koscielny on a regular basis for Arsenal. Schalke contract rebel Max Meyer completes the additions to the first team, who would play in the Iniesta role, although Mesut Ozil may in time play there also should Fekir join from Lyon.