Barcelona fans will welcome back former midfield hotshot Luis Enrique as their new gaffer, especially after Tata Martino’s chaotic ten-month tenure in charge at the Camp Nou, but while the Catalans are expecting to party like it’s 2008/09 next term they could be in for a shock.
Barca can currently be backed at 21/20 to regain La Liga during Enrique’s first term in charge, having surrendered the title with a final-day home draw against eventual champions Atletico Madrid, but – with a summer upheaval practically assured – the 7/10 about them falling short again rates a much better wager.
The man they call Lucho down Catalonia way has proved precisely nothing during his two years in senior management with Serie A side Roma and La Liga strugglers Celta Vigo.
Finishing ninth with the Galicians this term was a fair achievement, although the presence of ‘luminaries’ such as Levante, Malaga, Rayo Vallecano and Getafe in the four places directly below Celta suggests their season was nothing too special.
Of greater concern to the Barca faithful should be his disastrous 2012/13 campaign in charge of the Giallorossi, who finished 25 points behind Scudetto winners Juventus and outside the European places in sixth.
Enrique failed to effectively manage senior Roma stars such as Francesco Totti and left halfway through his contract, having failed to ‘produce spectacular football’.
That disappointing spell in the Eternal City suggests the 44-year-old will struggle with the sizeable task of restoring Barcelona’s fortunes, with a raft of established first-team performers expected to leave the Camp Nou.
Brilliant Brazil right-back Dani Alves, Chilean dangerman Alexis Sanchez, plus Spaniards Pedro and Cesc Fabregas are all thought to be available for transfer, and integrating loan stars such as Gerard Deulofeu and Rafinha Alcantara – who spent 2013/14 at Celta – is likely to prove a hit and miss operation, regardless of how highly the youngsters are rated.
Adding into the mix Lionel Messi’s clear need for rejuvenation makes Barcelona far too risky a proposition to back for the league at barely over odds-against, especially with Real Madrid looking like potential improvers in year two of the Ronaldo/Bale axis.
The last time Barca promoted a former B manager to the first team a magnificent treble followed, but – on all known form – Luis Enrique is no Pep Guardiola, so don’t expect a repeat.