So ends another managerial era at Barcelona as Luis Enrique stepped down following his final game in charge of the club. A Copa del Rey triumph may have seen him end the season with a smile but the turmoil surrounding him in the months prior had done enough to add a few wrinkles to his face and grey his hair.
After a treble-winning campaign in his debut season (2014/15), just a solitary cup triumph in his final season saw the curtains come down in rather underwhelming fashion – failing to win La Liga and getting knocked out in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Enrique has been loved and criticised in equal measure but he took great pride in his own work, even announcing his departure before he was asked to leave. So where did it all go wrong for Lucho this season?
1) Not adequately replacing Dani Alves
If everything went according to plan, Dani Alves would have stayed at the Camp Nou until the end of his contract which ran until June 2017. Instead, Alves was allowed to leave for free in the summer of 2016 in spite of having signed a two-year extension in 2015.
To describe his Camp Nou exit as acrimonious would be an understatement. The Brazilian full-back accused the club’s hierarchy of disrespecting him and being “extremely false and ungrateful”. He pointed out that they did not give his future at the club the attention it deserved until the FIFA transfer ban made retaining players a high priority.
“I was only offered a new deal when the FIFA transfer ban came in. That was when I played them at their own game and signed a deal with a termination clause.” – Alves
Juventus were only too glad to take him on for free and he is now a trophy away from winning yet another treble, playing a starring role in the UCL semi-finals. Meanwhile, Barcelona have struggled in both attack and defence without a decent full-back on the right.
Aleix Vidal was never a like-for-like replacement and initially failed to make a positive impact. And just when he started to come good for Enrique, a horrific ankle injury sidelined him. The versatile Sergi Roberto has been deployed as a right-back at times while Enrique has also frequently changed the system to use a wing-back instead.
There was no succession plan in place following Alves’ exit and Enrique had to do with what he had which was simply not good enough at a top club such as Barcelona.