The only surprise about Luis Enrique’s announcement that he will leave Barcelona at the end of the season is the timing.
It has been apparent for several months that Enrique has not been particularly enjoying his time at the Camp Nou, and that few other people have been enjoying it either.
Throughout his reign Enrique has regularly stated that he did not envisage himself staying in charge for too long, and the likelihood of his exit was turned into a near-certainty by the calamitous 4-0 Champions League defeat at Paris Saint-Germain.
But the taciturn boss, who is renowned for playing his cards as close to his chest as possible, was expected to keep everyone guessing until the end of the season, before slipping away into the sunset as quietly as possible once the end of season festivities were out of the way.
Instead, he has decided to go public right now, with the second leg of the PSG tie still to play and an increasingly exciting La Liga title campaign still very much up for grabs.
The thinking behind that decision, presumably, is to get the speculation out of the way and allow the remainder of the season to be conducted with an air of certainty – although the question of who will replace him is sure to remain a hot topic.
It’s probably a wise decision, and one that suits Enrique well.
🎥 Luis Enrique has announced he will not continue as manager next season pic.twitter.com/GX47mTB8Ki— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 2, 2017
Announcing his departure after a low-key comfortable midweek home win at a time when Real Madrid also happened to be playing is probably as close to ‘burying news’ as Barca can ever get, and Enrique will desperately hope – in vain, no doubt – that now his announcement is out of the way, the football can take centre stage.
And there is still plenty of football to be played. The Champions League can be written off – despite the token gestures of positivity they are giving out, Barca know that a comeback against PSG is realistically near impossible.
La Liga, however, is a different matter, and Barca have a great opportunity to ensure that Real Madrid’s quest for their first title since 2012 remains fruitless.
With Los Blancos faltering, Enrique and his players – united by the knowledge that he is leaving – are ready to pounce. It could be quite a finale.