Luis Enrique is following Mourinho's example

Three days ago a Barcelona-based colleague asked Luis Enrique if what is going on with Barça at the moment could be attributed to physical exhaustion and, therefore, could the drop off in fitness be the root cause of the team's current slump in form. Luis Enrique dismissed the question with a rude and lazily-conceived joke: “What’s your surname?”. “Malo”, fired back the reporter, whose full name is Víctor Malo. And then it was on to the next question. In other words, if your surname is Malo, you too must be malo (bad). Your question doesn’t deserve an answer. The Asturian coach was back in front of the press again yesterday and wasted the opportunity to redress what had been said. Luis Enrique was never going to admit any wrongdoing. With his chin pointed forward and a defiant look in his eyes, he seemed to be saying "come on then, have a go".

This Barça are worlds apart from that of yesteryear. Capello summed it up the other day: “They need a captain in the mould of Puyol to pull them along”. He has a point. Not only to help them in matters of football, but also to guide them with how they conduct themselves off the pitch. Not so long ago Barça were impeachable, to an almost sickening degree. That Barça were a box-office draw, with Guardiola, Puyol and Xavi at the helm. That’s no longer the case, and now the bar for decency is being set by troublemakers like Piqué, Alves, Neymar and Jordi Alba, with Luis Enrique playing the role of mother superior, too dissipated to act as a good example.

Not so long ago Barça were perfect. Not only did they dominate possession in nearly every game, but they also bore the Unicef logo on their chests and were represented by Xavi, Puyol and Iniesta on the pitch as well as by Guardiola on the bench. When that team won, it had an uplifting effect. When they lost, their playing style meant there was still nobility in defeat. But now instead of Pep Guardiola they have Luis Enrique, and in place of Puyol and Xavi are the likes of Piqué, Alves and Neymar. Iniesta is in the minority now. Barça were a shining example not so long ago. Nowadays they could just as easily be managed by Mourinho.