Barcelona’s great escape sums up management. The 67-year-old Arsenal boss has seen it all, but Wednesday’s stunning events in the Nou Camp even left him amazed
Luis Enrique’s rise from ‘idiot’ to ‘hero’ is the perfect illustration of a football manager’s life, according to Arsene Wenger.
The Arsenal boss lavished praise on Enrique for masterminding Barcelona’s unprecedented fightback to beat Paris Saint-Germain.
After losing the first leg 4-0 to PSG and with the mood at the Nou Camp darkening, Enrique announced he was leaving.
Now, the same fans want him to change his mind.
Wenger said: “It just sums it up that two weeks ago he was an idiot and everyone said, ‘You have to leave.’ So he said, ‘OK, I go.’ Today, he is a hero. That sums up the job.
“I watched it. I stayed with it even when it went to 3-1 because it is interesting, on a psychological front, to see how they respond. I wanted to see how Barcelona finished the game and, in fact, they had half-given up.
“I looked more at it from a tactical point of view — what is going on mentally in the head of the players.
“At the end of the game, even when you have been so long in football, you sit there and think, ‘How could this happen?’ Is the first penalty a penalty? The second one? Honestly…?
“It was fantastic.
“Our game [the 5-1 second-leg loss to Bayern Munich on Tuesday] could have been close. It could have been close because the foul on Walcott was a penalty, Giroud had a great chance with a header just after half-time from six yards.
“They were wobbling a little bit at 1-0. At 2-0, it would have changed.
“You could see that with PSG. They froze — players with experience. The mental aspect in this kind of game is very important.
“I went for the second option, yes. I got slaughtered because it finished 5-1, but that is what I decided and I stand up for that – I thought, ‘Even if it is a one in a million chance, let’s go for it.’
“Anyway, we are out.”
Barcelona were helped by PSG’s disintegration, conceding three goals from the 88th minute. The French team completed just FOUR passes after the 85th minute – three of which were kick-offs.
Midfielder Adrien Rabiot said: “Between 3-1 and 6-1, I don’t know what happened.” Defender Thiago Silva said: “It’s inexplicable.”
The mood in the Nou Camp has gone from doom and gloom to talk of a trophy clean-sweep.
Three-and-a-half weeks ago, the Catalans were in crisis.