Former Barcelona B coach Luis Enrique, who joined as head coach of Italian club AS Roma last season, has confirmed that he will quit his job and take a year off. Enrique’s start in first-team coaching didn’t live up the lofty expectations that were set given that he had coached Barca B for three seasons. AS Roma suffered 14 defeats in Serie A, finished seventh in the league and therefore couldn’t secure a spot in the Europa League – enough for many to proclaim Enrique’s season a failure.
“I’m going because I’m tired, I’ve always given 110 percent but I don’t think I’m able to recover my strength before the beginning of next season,” said Enrique, a statement that echoed the mental state of departing Barca manager Pep Guardiola.”That’s also why I know I won’t coach anywhere else. I need to recover after this difficult but beautiful experience. I’ve used up all my energy to try to get results and I’m sorry that we didn’t manage to get third place.”
The Italian press in particular was hard on Enrique throughout his stint but the Spaniard hasn’t let their constant criticism deter him. In fact he was only happy with the experience accumulated. ”I’m a very passionate person and this has been a marvellous adventure,” he said. ”Tough, yes, and I used up all my energy trying to reach a target. But when we were three or four games away we came up short. I don’t think the season has been a complete failure.’‘
He added, “It’s been a great pleasure to coach this team and not even in the darkest hour did I regret coming to this club. I’ve always had the utmost respect for the fans I’ve bumped into in the streets. I’m leaving because I feel very tired and drained. I’ve said from day one that I would never cling on to the job and when I realised that my presence might be a hindrance to the team I made my decision.”
Rumours were abound in the Italian press about the departure of Enrique with some reports suggesting he made disparaging remarks about few players during his announcement. Enrique was quick to clarify about the exact nature of events. ” Early everything that’s been written were lies. And we’re still hearing them now,” he said. “Today is my last pre-match press conference and I don’t what to get angry.”
“Two days ago I had a meeting with my players and all my coaching staff to explain what I thought and how I felt. It was a very nice moment – I chose to speak in Spanish so that I could get my true feelings across and my friend Claudio here did a fantastic translation for me, as always. That was a moment that will remain. My criticism concerns everything that came out in the papers afterwards, which I’ve only heard about because I don’t read them.”
“I wrote on a piece of paper – that I have here with me now [he holds it up] – everything I said to the players, and it was even recorded. I’m not going to show it to you, but I assure you it’s very different to the things that appeared in the papers.”
“The team has improved a lot, the lads were committed and I have always defended them. Although it is right to judge a coach on results I prefer one season with this intensity rather than three with less.”
AS Roma’s general director Franco Baldini shared his thoughts about the outgoing manager. “His work was good. At a certain point it wore him out and he felt the need to stop,” he said. “He won’t be training anywhere next season. We invited him to take all the time he needed to decide, hoping right until the end that he would stay.”
AS Roma had roped in Enrique in the hopes that he’d turn around the fortunes of the Italian club and make it a formidable force which could compete with the likes of Juventus, AC Milan and Internazionale. They wanted to achieve this by playing attractive football and so the appointment of Barca B coach Enrique. But with his exit, many see AS Roma changing tracks. Baldini was quick to refute those rumours.
“The project hasn’t failed, we want to carry on playing a certain type of football, and from league statistics Roma is the team that has had more possession than any other, and is third behind Juve and Milan for territorial dominance and pass completion,” he said. “This says a lot about the quality of play. The failure has been how our league campaign went, but the style of play was want we wanted from the beginning.”
About who could be the possible successor to Enrique, Baldini said, “I don’t know (about Montella). From when we knew that Enrique was leaving we have thought about alternatives, but we haven’t had the time to contact anyone. I don’t know how long it will be before we know the name of our new coach, (but outgoing Barcelona coach Pep) Guardiola would be science-fiction.”
Source: AFP, Sky Sports, ESPN Soccernet; Photo credit: AP Photo/Marco Vasini