Simple Man for A Simple Game

Pretty often in life you come across people who are so skilled or effective at what they do that you just feel the need to congratulate them. The following is not about the person who got the praise he deserves. It’s about that remarkable person you believed would make it far. It’s about that person who you voluntarily started clapping for even if you found yourself the only person doing so in the room.

This is about a super talented guitarist.

Back in college I would often require some ‘me time’ much like anyone. This would involve me going to the pub downstairs and having a few drinks while chatting with a bartender I go to know. There would always be this man with a guitar on his back at the end of the pub. He’d often sit on his stool and start playing and singing. My night would get a lot more entertaining from that point on.

After listening to that guy sing for several nights, I simply had to ask a very important question. So, I turned to the bartender and said: “Listen, why isn’t that guy famous already?”

I simply believed that he was good enough to start getting truly famous. Interestingly enough, the bartender wasn’t as enthusiastic as I was. He wasn’t sure the guitarist was ‘fame material’ (whatever that is). For the next period I always dropped by that pub and kept on wondering. I kept asking myself the same questions every time I heard him play.

He is so good! Why isn’t he famous yet? Why does recognition handpick people like that? Is it just luck? Or are some people just never really meant to get the recognition they deserve?

Luis Enrique arrived with so many doubts surrounding him. Will he ever be good enough? Will he apply the philosophy? Will youth get a chance? Will he bring success again?

Enrique tends to be incompatible with the world of sports and football in specific in 2016. With the sport shifting more and more towards the universe of media & exposure and the rise of hipsters and their need for the more interesting narrative, Luis Enrique is not exactly where he belongs. You can say that he is the right man at the wrong time.

If you would take note of the more ‘talked about’ managers in the world you would notice that the names haven’t really changed in years. These super efficient men have gained their fame by creating very powerful football teams or simply used a specific style of play that was later associated with them.

However, this wasn’t the only way they gained fame. Their character played a huge role.

Jose Mourinho is well known for his ego and occasional controversial quotes. Klopp has the evil scientist look on his face and he is a pretty witty man when it comes to dealing with the press.

Klopp shares the touchline madness attribute with coaches like Conte and Simeone.

Pep has his own share of quotes and, of course, controversial decisions.

These coaches, along with many others, know how to light a fire and therefore grab people’s attention.

Some managers aren’t even half as good as Luis Enrique at the job yet they tend to be more famous and the examples are all around Europe’s top teams.

Enrique being underrated is not exactly a conspiracy because even his own club’s supporters played a part in it.

While waving goodbye to Pep Guardiola, Barcelona fans wished their new genius would arrive as soon as possible. They wished that someone with so much edge, flair, and uniqueness would lead the club next.

To their disappointment, some man on a bicycle showed up.

He is a pretty simple man. He was never really about the fancy lifestyle nor about the glamour. He was named coach of the year at some point and wasn’t even around to pick his award up.

Luis Enrique then said his award is a result of the hard work of the coaching staff, the team, and the club in general.

This is literally as exciting as Luis Enrique’s award talk got. The man simply didn’t care and he probably never will. This seems rather unpleasant for many fans in the world. Where are the controversial quotes? Where is the ‘I’m the boss’ attitude? Where are the suicidal tactics? Where is the flair? Where is the Gillette commercial? Where is the historical catchphrase? Where is the iconic nickname? These are a hipster’s drug and Luis Enrique is simply not a supplier.

Another reason for the lack of recognition is people consciously forcing it. Seeing Barcelona ruling the world again with a coach other than Pep Guardiola only a few years later does not really go well with some. With this frustration comes the need to disregard Luis Enrique’s work and in people’s minds runs one question: “No, this is impossible, how can you be so good again so quick?”

They cannot really handle the fact that Luis Enrique helped Barcelona back up again and his first campaign was one of the club’s most historic ones. So, what they do is that they go to the nearest Barcelona fan and try to desperately prove that Luis Enrique had no hand in his own treble winning team. Of course, there are Barcelona fans who ignore these statements and move on, and there are those who always wanted to believe that Luis Enrique did absolutely nothing.

“It was the coaching staff”, “It was the players”, “It was Messi”, “anyone can do it with a squad like this” and the arguments keep coming. But the funny thing is, Luis Enrique never disagreed. It was in fact the coaching staff. It was in fact the players. It was in fact Messi. This is what Luis Enrique has always been saying. The modesty and simplicity of Luis Enrique does not go well with most to the extent that they feel that their super intelligent tactical/structural argument backfired and in reality it has only made Luis Enrique look better. Therefore, the frustration continues.

It has become difficult to accept a simple man. After all, nothing is intriguing about one. He does not excite you. He does not give you that ‘something special’. He is not edgy. He is just a boring man who goes to work every morning hoping he does well.

Luis Enrique brings football back to basics. This does not go well with people who pause a football match in order to draw triangles and parallel lines. He cherishes athleticism and simply believes that giving up is not an option. With belief in simple and also underrated players like Rakitic, Luis Enrique will never be appealing. He’ll never be in the spotlight. He’ll never be interesting enough to create a coach rivalry. And frankly, he is probably just too mature for all of this to begin with.

That guy woke up every morning and kept trying to improve. He waited for the night to come so that he could grab his guitar and start doing what he loves. He noticed that not many people were appreciating his work but he kept on playing anyway. He did what he believed was the right thing to do. If fame and recognition were to come, that would be great. If not, well, he’ll keep on playing regardless.

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21 Comments

  1. mr.undercover
    September 6, 2016

    What a touching story.
    Barca fans can’t let go of Guardiola’s memory, which makes them blind to lucho’s achievements, he don’t like the spotlight nor the recognition which would make him always underrated. I m baffled how some barca fans on twitter still follow pep wherever he goes, analysing his tactics and plans and how he developed and influenced players i.e Bayern,mancity, but when it comes to lucho they seems to give much of the credit to the players ignoring the huge impact lucho has on his team. To keep a satisfied team who won everything within a short period of time more hungrier than ever is a hell of an achievement. To manage a glacticos team filled with the finest footballers alive in it and control their ego’s so that everyone try to do his uppermost best to earn a spot is just magnificent. Just look at sergi roberto’s evolution, lucho have done wonders in this kid which earned him a spot in our starting XI and recently a national team call up, and yet the nay sayers are attributing lucho’s success in managing SR to what Guardiola have said years before. But what I like about our iron man(lucho) is that he don’t give a damn about all this shit. Say whatever you wanna say about him, he don’t have a vision, lacks charisma, no style of play, stubborn and so on, let him play the underdog role and he will be more than satisfied to crash every record, clinch every trophy on his way until his doubters proved wrong and lose count of his achievement.

  2. raj
    September 7, 2016

    Great piece. A reflection of the world we live in – a travesty of true hard work and talent.

  3. Davour
    September 7, 2016

    Thanks! In a world of eccentric exhibitionists, modesty is an anomaly and normality is weird… logic of the entertainment industry (show biz) of which football is an increasingly integral part. LE seems to be like a buddha seeing through the mirage of bullshit, realizing that things are never as they seem or are portrayed. Therefore, simplicity is best, even when admitting things are hard to pin down. Main reason behind the treble? There isn’t one – person or thing. It was a number of elements coming together, including luck. But myth prefers to reduce it to one narrative – Messi’s longing for revenge after WC, and to reclaim balon d’or, for instance. Considering Messi’s potential, this surely played a part at some level. But LE, like most good bosses, seems to understand – and quickly learned – to lead by empowerment, to enable his staff to do what they do, and to try to collect a group and instill a mentality that will work to achieve the set goal.

    This is what Guardiola did, too, only more expressively, the philosopher, visionary. Look at Ancelotti, he is quiet, too, but radiates elegance and influence, a persona. Mourinho is machiavellian, balancing on a fine line between motivation and fear, Klopp is the benevolent, quirky father, etc…

    We long for stories, for larger than life people to inspire us. LE should really, in a sense, dwarf the others – nothing is as hard as simplifying something difficult, and to free yourself of others’ affirmation, and just be and do. But he seems to. That should really be an example.

  4. Graimz
    September 7, 2016

    Great piece. Without a doubt, Luis Enrique Martinez is a world class manager. The BEST. The right man for Barça

  5. georgjorge
    September 7, 2016

    Very nice article. Not having many Barca fans around me in “real” life, I wouldn’t really know whether Enrique was generally seen as a good coach or not. Or is it more of a Twitter thing we’re talking about here?

    I only wanted to mention that while Guardiola was still at Barca, many people also attributed his success mostly to the players (“everyone could do it with Xavi, Iniesta and Messi on the field!”), and many still do so in regards to his Bayern years and domestic success there. I guess you really have to win the Premier League with a team like Leicester to get full credit as a coach…

    • Davour
      September 7, 2016

      True, I remember this. Though for Guardiola, I think it was mostly non-Barca fans who suggested this, while now culés, too, join in. And yes, I think Twitter is the main hub where these ideas are concerned.

      Benitez time at RM is a good example of the difficulty of leading a big team (Tata, too, but during his time the team was really not in shape, mentally, anyway). In his case, he should probably have done less…

      I guess coaches have different talents (and timing); Guardiola would obviously need a fairly talented team to realize his possession tactics, for instance. But how would Ranieri fare at Barca? Who knows. He has lost with more famous teams than Leicester…

  6. mr.undercover
    September 7, 2016

    Yes Georgjorge. You need to win the PL with a team like leicester to get full credit in EPL, don’t forget how the PL top four were performing last season which made it possible for leicester to win it. Man united with LVG was appalling, mancity were inconsistent, Chelsea with mourinho were pathetic, Arsenal been Arsenal, there are so many factors that should be on your side to win a long run Competition including a bit of luck.

  7. georgjorge
    September 7, 2016

    By the way, I don’t think you do the tactical intelligence of Luis Enrique justice if you state that he isn’t fond of drawing parallels and triangles and reduce his coaching to the belief of “never giving up”. Or maybe I misunderstood you. I just think that at the level Barca plays, the coach has to BOTH have an extremely good understanding of footballing tactics (triangles and parallels and whatnot) AND be able to motivate the team well. I’m sure Luis Enrique also spends a lot of time thinking about these things, just not to the degree of obsession of a Guardiola or Tuchel (or maybe there just are no funny anecdotes floating around about it).

    As an aside, my homecountry Austria recently had a whole string of national team coaches who called tactics overrated and reduced football to “you have to give everything on the pitch, and success will come”. They failed quite spectacularly, but still the introduction of a foreign coach who actually approached the game from a different angle was a major (succesful) revolution. Maybe that’s why I react when I see footballing tactics dismissed so easily.

  8. mr.undercover
    September 7, 2016

    Lucho is a great tactician as well, he has the highest ratio of turning the game around than any other barca coaches, that explains his competent in tactics and analysis of the game.

  9. September 7, 2016

    Thing about it is that Luis Enrique has hit all the marks, including getting to 100 wins faster than Guardiola.

    He’s improved every player he has gotten his hands on, and Sergi Roberto is his Busquets. He has innovated the team to capably deal with a game that is essentially reconfigured to stop Barça, and was only a poorly timed international break away from consecutive trebles.

    He also has a strong record on transfers, with the only legit failure being Douglas. Vermaelen was good when he played, just didn’t play that often because of the quality of others.

    Luis Enrique has done everything right, including assembling what is, on paper, an absurd squad. The “rotation” front three could be Turan/Alcacer/Rafinha, backed by Denis Suarez/Andre Gomes/Mascherano, with a back line of Vidal/Mathieu/Umtiti/Digne, witih Cillessen in goal.

    The team’s tactics have changed in fascinating ways, including how it uses the ball and the incorporation of the keeper in the buildup. Even Valdes wasn’t as involved as Ter Stegen was in that last match. And he just keeps working. No stress, didn’t even show up to accept his coach of the year award.

    The man is a boss.

  10. georgjorge
    September 9, 2016

    So RM and Atlético will both face transfer bans for the next two periods. Interesting. This might hurt Atlético quite a bit…

  11. mr.undercover
    September 9, 2016

    Karma is a bitch, now let see how the madrid media are going to react

  12. raj
    September 10, 2016

    1. Anyone else excited about today’s match, though it is not that big a deal?

    2. Did you realize that you appreciate Barca’s game a lot more when you are high?

    3. Is Messi playing today or what?

    • Jim
      September 10, 2016

      Team for tonight Raj .
      Barca line-up vs Alaves: Cillessen, Aleix, Mascherano, Mathieu, Digne, Denis, Busquets, Rakitic, Alcacer, Neymar, Arda,

      First of all , what a Manchester derby ! Just watched it on recording. I thoroughly enjoyed it – two different styles. You can see how Man city first half are closer to what they would like to be but Man U in the second half showed glimpses of what they can do. Have to say they ain’t gonna beat City with that style.

      Quick thoughts.

      Not a great start for Bravo. I’m not too interested in him since he left but two bad moments. The first was the goal and to be fair he was royally shafted by Stones , calling for the ball then Stones still attempting to go for it but it was never a catch in those circumstances. Punch was called for. In his defence City, like us attempt to hold a ridiculous high line on FKs. This will kill us at some point and did for Bravo today. You just can’t leave such a big gap between keeper and defence that your keeper has to come 15 yards to catch a ball.

      Second thought, Guardiola will ruin Bravo expecting him to. Play this sweeper keeper role. The chance just after the goal illustrated this perfectly. No way Bravo needed to come to that. His defender had it. However, to impress Guardiola he felt obliged to come way off his line and was lucky not to lose another.

      Stones ? Where to start. One of the worst displays I’ve seen from a supposed top player. First of all he is no good in the air so can’t be your main CB. He lost , or almost lost possession three or four times on simple passes. He almost got Bravo sent off ( should have been ) with his inability to make he correct angle to receive the ball back . You can see Bravo waiting for him to make the angle and when he realises he’s not bothering his backside tries to turn back the other way. Add to that he was at least five yards off Ibra when Ibra failed to control his show at goal and you get a picture of why I doubt he’ll ever make it.

      Still, always good to see Pep triumphing over. Mourinho. Horrible man and no friend of football.

      On to tonight. Way to go LE. Substantial rotation and main one which stands out for me is Pique. I’m wondering if he is carrying an injury we don’t know about. The back line is unlikely to be severely tested but it may be revealing nonetheless. Big question for me is, if Messi had been fit would he have been in the side ? Still, good to see rotation in any form. Now they have to demonstrate to the manager it is viable.

    • raj
      September 10, 2016

      Great thoughts on City.
      I think Bravo is too good not to come out of that very soon, but very unexpected from him to make those mistakes.

  13. raj
    September 10, 2016

    Well, that first half happened. Waiting for Iniesta now.

  14. Jim
    September 10, 2016

    There can be no greater indictment than that I actually dozed off during that half. Anyone for even a ” bad” Messi game now ?

    Just wondering if we can afford the ” you lot got us into this. Now get us out of it” approach. Not sure . . .

  15. raj
    September 10, 2016

    Well, it was not a bad Messi but was still not enough.
    Whatever rotational plans LE had will take a hit now.

    • Davour
      September 10, 2016

      Well, he must maintain faith in his rotation plans, or we’ll be in trouble. Today perhaps was a little much, with too many players who did not know each other, but logical nevertheless. Suarez tired, Messi half-injured, Ini recovering, Masch and Mat should be able to cover for Piqué. I would perhaps have kept Alba, for Ney’s sake. Still, if Mathieu buries that second corner, all changes.

      But regardless, this was a tired display and for me we saw the price of Ney’s long absence. He is far from in sync with the team (half of which he has hardly met). Many of the others had nights off – Denis was poor, I think, Busi and Raki so-so, and Vidal is simply not good enough. He is by far the greatest worry, and we must simply hope he will fare better when the team as a whole is up to speed. Can Marlon play RB?

      I know the pressure on LE, but throwing in the big guns seldom works for Barca in these situations (as rare as they are, as the big guns seldom sit). That’s not how this team works. But I guess he had to.

      Let’s just hope we win at Anoeta this year, and this loss will be cancelled out! These things will happen and we must hope that RM are not as good as they seem to be in the process of becoming. Their squad looks awfully strong; it will be a tough fight.

      Hoping for a bounce back against Celtic!

    • Davour
      September 10, 2016

      Also, if this game is any indication of how Vidal will be playing, there is a further complication. SR is not only the best RB, but also the back-up for Busi, who obviously needs rest. How will that work out? Raki? Masche might scrape by.

  16. TITO
    September 10, 2016

    I just catched the final minutes of.the game, but, wow, this is one hell of a surprise.

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