Luis Enrique at the press conference. PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.

“I feel confident and motivated, thinking about where we can improve. Focused on the things I can control. I still have the same faith in the players.” Coach Luis Enrique’s words in his appearance before the press the day before his team’s Spanish Cup clash with Elche. Following the defeat at Anoeta and the Club’s recent decisions, the man from Asturias assured that he was in good spirits: “I am as excited as I was on the first day. I can see the team with room to improve, but the trend is positive.”

Nevertheless, the coach did admit that not taking advantage of league leader Real Madrid’s slip up “has affected the team”. At the same time he was clear: “The atmosphere in the dressing room is positive, and we would like it to be like that outside as well.” Asked about his relationship with Leo Messi on several occasions, Luis Enrique maintained: “Things that go on in the dressing room stay there. I do not confirm or deny anything. My job is to be coach.” He continued: “I have the same relationship with the players that I had at the beginning. Nothing at all has changed. Perhaps we all know each other a little better. In that sense I think there has been an improvement.”

“I don’t have anything to regret on a personal level with any of the players. I try to mark an overall objective of winning trophies at the end of the season and we are on the way,” he added. The Barça coach continued, explaining: “I don’t treat all my children the same way and I don’t with the players. But there are general rules that have to be respected. The squad is above any individuals.” He concluded: “I have talked, I have negotiated and I have been lenient with some of the things that the players have requested, but I have also been demanding and loyal to my principles.”

Support of the Club and the players

Luis Enrique went on to highlight the role of the Club captains: “It goes beyond wearing the armband and I can see that they are doing that. I see them ready and willing.” All in all he is confident the situation “will change and we will win again.” He feels secure and strong. “I have the support of the Club and the players. I have the same intensity as the first day.” He maintained that he is contact with President Josep Maria Bartomeu. “I have not received any ultimatum,” he declared.

During the press conference the Barça coach had words of comfort for Andoni Zubizarreta and his team whom he described as “well prepared people”, and that their departure is a loss for him. He also commented on the Barça fans. “Today we can only say good things about the fans. We are still in all competitions and I remain optimistic. We will go out there against Elche with the idea of putting in a good performance, knowing that it will not be easy.”

On the subject of the upcoming Cup match, the Barça coach admitted: “Everything about the game worries me, we have to be as focused as possible.” He rounded off by saying: “Not knowing who will play worries me, and more so than in any other game the state of our players because it is not the best of situations.”