Ivan De La Pena has backed the appointed of his old Barcelona teammate Luis Enrique as the next Coach of La Blaugrana.
Enrique, currently on the bench of Celta Vigo, has yet to be confirmed as Tata Martino’s replacement for next season but all signs point to the ex-Roma boss taking over at Camp Nou.
De La Pena has spoken with Sport and said he is absolutely certain Enrique is the right man for the job.
“I haven’t spoken to him and the club hasn’t yet announced who will be the Coach next season, but if it’s Enrique, I can only say that the signing is a total success,” De La Pena proclaimed.
“No doubt. The results are what make good or bad Coaches but personally, I see Luis Enrique as the ideal Coach for Barca. He’s the best of all possible candidates.
“He’s an extremely meticulous planner, and works hard every day with an enormous capacity to control everything that affects the team.
“He’s a Coach who prepares to the smallest detail in training. Nothing is left to chance and he pays special attention to the physical issue, but also other things.
“He loves studying the individual development of players and seeing how over the weeks they increasingly contribute more to the team. In his team, all the players progress in their game.”
De La Pena added that not only is Enrique a fine Coach, in his opinion, but Barca is the right club for him.
“Being at a club like Barca will greatly help in his work. Barca isn’t just any club and you need to know where you are and the challenges that you face,” he continued.
“And Luis Enrique knows the club better than anyone.
“His Coaching CV is small but brilliant. His time at Barca B was spectacular and his work in Rome for me is felt even today. See how the team was when he came to Rome and see how they played when he was there, before and after.
“And this season at Celta is there. It’s obvious they’ve had a great campaign.”
It was put to De La Pena that Enrique’s reputation is that of a hard task master, but De Le Pena insisted there’s more to his friend than that.
“That’s just image. It’s true sometimes, by his manner of speech or expression, he may seem dry or cutting, but I can assure you he’s a great guy as a person and as a professional.
“Luis Enrique has been a Barca player, an elite player, and has seen and experienced everything.
“He knows how everything works and when to play the role of psychologist to resolve any problems that arise in the team.
“[Confrontations with players] don’t mean anything. If there was a problem it’s maybe because he had a reason to have a problem. Those are internal things.
“Another virtue and one the players thank him for is he goes face-to-face. He tells you what he thinks and ultimately that benefits the collective.”
De La Pena ended by calling on the supporters to give Enrique a chance and judge him solely on results.
“I’m not one to give advice, and not to fans. But I dare ask people to park their fears and trust the chosen Coach to do his job,” he went on.
“In the end, the results are what say if the Coach has done a good or bad job. That’s the law of football.”