If Luis Enrique kept a diary, it would probably be hidden under a rock in the Tabernas Desert, far enough from the world that a man would have to run an ultra marathon to find it. And that man, of course, would be Luis Enrique.
Since nobody else would waste their time training for, running to, or searching out this hypothetical diary, we asked for Sam Marsden’s best guess. Starting 13 months ago:
May 6, 2014: Diario SPORT snap Celta Vigo manager Luis Enrique’s not-so-secret meeting with Barcelona…
I told Zubi (Andoni Zubizaretta) it wasn’t a great idea to do it at my place in Gavá, but he insisted. He said it would be fine. Next thing I know, there are photos all over the Internet. I wouldn’t mind, but Tata (Gerardo Martino) is still in the job, and Barça still has a chance to win the league. Mind you, it was great to meet up with Zubi, Albert Valentín and Narcís Julià and to hear them say they actually want me to return to the club. I always knew I’d be back.
May 22, 2014: Luis Enrique is presented as the new manager of FC Barcelona.
The Auditori 1899 was packed with journalists. First day as Barça manager and the questions are already piling in: Will Cesc Fàbregas stay at the club? (No.) What about Javier Mascherano? (Yes.) Are you going to talk Xavi Hernández into staying at Camp Nou for another year? (Of course.) Naturally I batted them all away. They’ll get used to that. They won’t get much out of me this year.
Ignoring the GBH to the ears, though, it was a good day. They played a video of my time here as a player – nice, but a bit sentimental for my liking. Now it’s time to get some players before this bloody transfer ban kicks in. If only we can get (Luis) Suárez.
Oct. 23, 2014: Barça got off to a good start under Lucho’s guidance, before suffering a minor setback ahead of the season’s first Clasico.
I’ve decided: I’m playing Luis against Real Madrid. I don’t care if he’s just coming off suspension. I have to. Suárez, Messi and Neymar – how can I not?
I must remember not to give anything away. Not like Carlo (Ancelotti). He’s always giving the press hints about his teams. Luis’s name in my XI has to be a surprise.
We go to the Bernabéu in good form. We may have lost in Paris, but we can cut those stupid errors out. We’ve gone nine games in league without conceding. NINE. I’ll chuck Jerry (Mathieu) in for Jordi (Alba) at left back, keep things tight and leave the forwards to do the damage. It’s what this squad was designed to do.
Nov. 17, 2014: Madrid beat Barça, as did Celta Vigo at the Nou Camp before Enrique’s men struggled to see off Almeria.
What I would give to be back in October, or even back in Vigo, although Celta aren’t in my good graces right now. Thank God for Suárez’s scameo against Almeria, otherwise I’d be in real trouble. I can’t imagine what it would be like if we’d lost to them.
But it’s not as bad as the press are making out. This is a marathon, not a sprint, but I had forgotten just how quickly things flare up in this city. Mundo Deportivo says I’ve had a meeting with Zubi and Bartomeu and only just held on to my job. It was just a standard meeting. I’m not going anywhere, and it won’t be the last time the press tries to bring me to a boil.
Not that I even care. I’m looking forward to getting out on the bikes later with Juan (Carlos Unzué); clearing my head; and focusing on getting things back on track before the Christmas break. It is a marathon, and it’s only November. There’s too long to go.
Jan. 7, 2015: Barça’s season hits rock bottom after Enrique and Messi squabble in training and the Catalans lose at Real Sociedad.
The bike rides have been going well. I’m thinking about signing up for another iron man event. Maybe I’ll have some more free time. To train.
Seriously, though, things have got out of hand at work. Where to begin? This sounds dumb, but perhaps with a non-whistle. I didn’t blow for a foul on Leo in training (because it wasn’t a foul), and he wasn’t happy. So we exchanged words. Then we talked in the dressing room. Then, the real mistake: changing the team in San Sebastián, leaving Leo and Neymar on the bench and losing to Moyes. Moyes.
If we’d won, this Leo stuff would have been swept under the carpet; instead, it is front page news. On top of that, my man Zubi’s been sacked, and the president said there will be new elections this summer. Not sure where it all leaves me, but if we’re going to shut all this up, we need wins.
This is the toughest week yet. It didn’t help that Leo didn’t turn up for the open training on Monday, either. Xavi said he’ll ping him a WhatsApp to try and sort things out. So happy I convinced that man to stay.
12th January, 2015: After the storm comes the calm — Barça produces its best performance of the season to beat Atlético.
What a photo! Mundo Deportivo, SPORT, AS, Marca … None of them could resist it! My precious trident, wheeling away after one of the goals last night. Suárez, Messi and Neymar all scored. We got the win we needed over Atlético.
Six times Barça played Atlético last season and zero times they won. Not that I’m counting. Under me? One game, one win. Next time we lose the ‘TOTAL CRISIS’ rubbish will be wheeled back out, but for now? Shhhhhhhhhh.
Whatever Xavi said on WhatsApp must have worked. And what a performance from Javier Mascherano in the mixed zone last night, calming down all that sensationalism being launched at him. But Leo on Barça TV? “Stop throwing shit at us.” I cannot believe he said that! This might be a turning point.
23rd March, 2015: After the Atlético win, the results keep rolling in. Manchester City is seen off in the Champions League and Madrid is beaten at Camp Nou.
Boom. I so knew that win over Atlético was a turning point. Four points clear of Real Madrid, and I’ve already watched Suarez’s winner back almost 100 times. All that about the biting; we signed him for moments like that.
But I do have a small complaint: Some people still don’t seem to get what I’m doing. It’s not like we’ve sacrificed possession, we still have exclusive use of the ball in almost every game we play. But I hear moans about us being a little more direct. Well, I’m sorry if we’re taking advantage of having three South American aces up front. Haters gon’ hate.
We’ve won nothing yet, though. The team was still in contention for a treble at this point last season under Tata, but it won nothing. I’ll be careful not to give any feelings away to the press just yet.
16th April, 2015: Barcelona wins against Paris Saint-Germain to all but ensure its progress to the Champions League last four.
I’m so excited. And I just can’t hide it. What a GREAT night in Paris with the team. Felt bad for David Luiz getting nutmegged twice, but that’s Luis. That signing’s turned out exactly as I’d hoped.
It was nice to make up for losing to PSG earlier this season. What progress. This is what we were trying to build. Everything feels so different than the last time we were here, this fall. Everything coming together, exactly as we grew it up.
7th May, 2015: Messi produces a masterclass to move Barça within striking distance of the Champions League final.
He is the best. I am soooo happy things are cool with me and Leo, because I can actually enjoy this. We had our low moments, but now they all seem worth it. Just to watch him sit Boateng on the floor and lift the ball over Neuer’s head.
I thought Pep may have been playing dumb when he said Leo is unstoppable, but he really might be. I can’t believe how worried I was that Bayern might be able to stop him. I mean, I know how good he is, but I suppose it’s only human to have these concerns. Now I’m not sure Leo is human, though!
Trebletrebletrebletrebletrebletrebletreble. Hopefully that will stop me blurting it out in a press conference. I love that word.
17th May, 2015: A year after losing the title to Atlético at Camp Nou, Barça returns the favor by winning it at the Vicente Calderon.
La Liga champions. What a feeling. Ended up in the shower, courtesy of the lads, as I tried to celebrate quietly, but nothing can ruin this feeling. To think of all the criticism I was getting in January, although I know the drill here. If you under-perform, you’re executed. You win, and you get a reprieve, until the next time they want to execute you.
But nobody’s executing me. Not yet, anyway. One trophy down, two to go. Trebletreble. Treble.
30th May, 2015: Luis Enrique’s Barcelona side completes the double, beating Athletic in the Copa del Rey final at Camp Nou.
I said it all week, but nobody listened. We were hyper-motivated to win the Copa del Rey. People thought we were only focused on the Champions League final, but this was the now, this was what was important to us.
And that first goal from Leo … again. I wouldn’t mind him copying that against Juventus. After that game, maybe I will open up a bit more, like the Athletic defense. Maybe I’ll even answer the question about whether I will still be in charge next season.