Luis Enrique will step down as Roma coach at the end of this season
Former Barcelona player moved to Italian Serie A club in June
The 42-year-old says he needs to take time out from the game
Club says departure will not mean end of new playing philosophy
AS Roma hired Luis Enrique hoping a little Barcelona magic might rub off on the Serie A club, but the experiment came to a forlorn end on Saturday when the coach confirmed he was quitting after less than a year in charge.
Roma boldly appointed the Spaniard last June, despite the fact that the 42-year-old had never played outside Spain and his only coaching experience was a three-year spell with Barcelona’s B team.
Ahead of the final round of the season, Roma are seventh in Serie A and may not qualify for Europe. They have been beaten 14 times.
Amid increasing rumors about the coach’s future, Roma general director Franco Baldini insisted the club wanted Luis Enrique to stay but the Spaniard has confirmed he will step down after Sunday’s final game of the season.
“I’m leaving because I feel very tired and drained,” Luis Enrique said in a statement posted on the Roma website. “I’ve given everything this season.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to recover my energy over the summer – not the energy needed to motivate a group. I definitely won’t be coaching next season, though I don’t know if I’d even have had any offers.”
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola also cited fatigue when he announced he would quit the Catalan club at the end of this season.
Luis Enrique will become the 20th coaching change in Serie A this season. He arrived at Roma in the wake of a takeover by a group of American investors led by Thomas DiBenedetto last April.
On announcing the appointment, Roma’s sporting director Walter Sabatini said: “Luis Enrique represents an idea of football that we would like to follow, which imposes itself today through Spain and Barcelona.
“I was looking for someone outside of Italian football. Uncontaminated.”
Luis Enrique was charged with overhauling an aging squad and bringing flair to the team in a notoriously defense-minded league.
The 35-year-old club icon Francesco Totti was left on the bench for some games, while Barcelona attacker Bojan Krkic was brought in, but failed to sparkle.
“I still believe you can play attractive football in Italy and I think the best way to do that is with attacking football,” Luis Enrique said. “I know that I have to improve defensive aspects and I will, don’t worry about that.”
Baldini said Luis Enrique’s departure wouldn’t spell the end of the club’s new philosophy.
“The project hasn’t failed,” he said. “We want to carry on playing a certain type of football, and from league statistics Roma is the team that has had more possession than any other, and is third behind Juve and Milan for territorial dominance and pass completion.
“This says a lot about the quality of play. The failure has been how our league campaign went, but the style of play was want we wanted from the beginning.”
Luis Enrique said he planned to stay in the Italian capital for several months to get to know the city better and that he would never regret his decision to try coaching in Italy.
However, he said he wouldn’t miss the local media.
“Nearly everything that’s been written was lies,” he said. “And we’re still hearing them now.”