Surprise package. Eighth in the table. Chances for young players. Promising project. Passing game. Those are just a handful of the expressions used to describe Luis Enrique’s year at Celta Vigo. He took over at a club that had narrowly escaped relegation to the second division and got them to play a passing game in which three former FCB players, Rafinha, Fontàs and Nolito, played a central role in getting the Galicians to imitate the Barça style.
“The football we saw at Balaídos last season was the best in recent years” says Xose Ramon Castro of La Voz de Galicia. “It was a team that took control of games, held onto the ball and attacked with clear ideas while maintaining balance in defence. Eusebio had initiated a similar style, but the Asturian developed it and was a success in the first division, and that is never an easy task.”
Celta got off to something of an irregular start, but once Rafinha had adapted to the team, he became an essential cog in the works. “He made a huge contribution to getting the team to click and that was the turning point for them” comments Ramon Castro.
Jaime Conde of Faro de Vigo admires the club for sticking with Luis Enrique despite his unsteady start. “He has a lot of character and there was never any debate about him” he says. “And in the end his work bore fruit and the season came to a spectacular end. There’s no doubt that Luis Enrique was one of the best managers to have come to Vigo in recent years. He set up a very promising project”.
One thing Luis Enrique was praised for doing was giving chances to players coming up from the youth system. “Players like Jonny, David Costas and Santi Mina were only 18 to 20 years old yet were given central roles” says José Luis Iglesias of El Correo Gallego. “Before then, the young players weren’t getting many chances. On Sunday the Celta fans will give Luis Enrique a warm welcome in recognition of the job he did here”.