Luis Enrique learned a lot from his different managers / PHOTO: FCB Archive

Luis Enrique played under six coaches in eight years at FC Barcelona. They were Robson, Serra Ferrer, Rexach, Van Gaal, Antic and Rijkaard, and speaking to the ‘Recorda míster’ show on Barça TV, he looked back at what he learned from each of them.

It was the summer of 1996 when Luis Enrique arrived in Barcelona to play under the late Bobby Robson and alongside the likes of Guardiola, Stoichkov, Iván de la Peña and Ronaldo. The new FCB manager remembers how the Englishman always wanted his players to improve, even when that was seemingly impossible, and uses the famous goal scored by Ronaldo against Compostela as an example of Robson’s amazing motivational skills.Van Gaal was like a shepherd watching over his flock, a man who knew his responsibilitiesThe year after, FC Barcelona was managed by Louis Van Gaal, who stayed until 2000, and briefly returned in 2002. He was a tough character, remarkably wise and strict, who would give any player a chance if he felt they deserved it. “He made demands from the first moment. He'd enter the dressing room and we'd all pay attention” says Luis Enrique. “He was like a shepherd watching over his flock, a man who knew his responsibilities. It is important not to be afraid of your manager, but to know that he is someone who has an influence and has a relative influence over the group.”

One of the biggest stars of the Van Gaal era was Rivaldo, and you could cut the tension between the two with a knife. The Brazilian wanted to play a certain role in the team, but the Dutchman had different ideas. “I think a coach needs to know how to adapt his players to the general good of the team” says Luis Enrique. “If you have Rivaldo, who was the best player of his era, then you need to adapt to make sure you make the most of him. It shouldn’t be about confrontation, that I want to play here and you here. Those are kid’s things that shouldn’t matter”.

He adds that “Van Gaal was convinced that the team mattered more, and that any one player, whatever he said, couldn’t do what he wanted. Rivaldo was wrong, I think, to claim that he should always play in that position. No, you need to show the boss that you are better in that position, and if you really are better out wide, then you’ll play there if the manager thinks you should.”

Llorenç Serra Ferrer arrived in 2000, and put a lot of faith in his four captains, which included Luis Enrique. Being captain involves responsibilities, but not imposing things on the manager. “When things are going badly, it is very easy to start launching messages” he comments. “I had never picked a team in my life. I have never told a coach that he should play one player instead of another. That shows a lack of respect and professionalism. From me or from any team-mate I have ever had … But Serra Ferrer was a man who entrusted a lot to his captains. They are always an important part of the squad, and there has to be consensus among them.”Under Rexach we adapted our system to the players we had at the timeFormer player Carles Rexach, who had previously assisted Johan Cruyff, was the next Barça manager. Luis Enrique explains how “we adapted our playing system to the players we had at the time. We used a 4-3-3, but we didn’t have strong wide players, only Overmars, and we’d play a ‘false winger’ on the other side. Somebody who looked like a winger, but who actually played towards the middle.”Radomir Antic liked to speak to his players, to get on with themThere was more than one manager in 2002/03. Radomir Antic came in mid-season and Luis Enrique remembers how “he liked to speak to his players, to get on with them, and the players became stronger because of the way he dealt with them.”

Luis Enrique’s last manager was Frank Rijkaard, who was at the Camp Nou from 2003 to 2008. His first season started poorly, and the media was on his back. “But he set a fine example in press conferences. The press were tough on him for the first half of the season. They were very nasty to him. But he knew how to contain them and put up with them because he had the right personality. And he ended up turning the situation around”.

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