Despite seeing Barca defeat the reigning champions of England (Manchester City), France (Paris St Germain), Germany (Bayern Munich) and Italy (Juventus) en route to claiming the 2015 Champions League crown, there were still plenty of people who seriously believed the team was being successful despite their manager, not because of him.
And those disbelievers have been given plenty of new fuel for their fire this season, which saw Barca finish second behind Real Madrid in La Liga for the first time since 2012 and suffer a comprehensive Champions League defeat to Juve.
“We told you so!” the naysayers have been quick to point out, and there are many Barca fans who will be perfectly happy to see the back of a manager they have never really liked or trusted – even though he was such a great playing servant of their club.
And it certainly hasn’t been a good campaign for Barca, whose reliance upon the incomparable Lionel Messi to keep on pulling them out of deep holes was the only thing which kept them competitive in La Liga.
Under Enrique, Barca have become wildly inconsistent. On their day – well, on Messi’s day – they are still capable of beating any opposition, anywhere.
But they have produced far too many poor performances, evidenced by the fact that their four league defeats this season came against opposition who finished ninth or lower: Alaves, Celta Vigo, Deportivo La Coruna and Malaga. None of those teams are world-beaters, but they were all good enough to become Barca-beaters when the Catalans misfired.
Enrique has also fared badly in the transfer market, with Arda Turan, Aleix Vidal, Paco Alcacer, Andre Gomes, Lucas Digne and Denis Suarez all failing to make their mark.
The only truly successful signings in the last three years have been Luis Suarez, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Samuel Umtiti – and Enrique was not personally involved in the first two of those recruitments.
The team’s playing style has also taken a hit. It was inevitable that Xavi’s departure would negatively impact Barca’s ability to retain possession in the opposition half, but the extent to which they have turned from the masters of short-passing into a direct counter-attacking outfit has been shocking, upsetting many fans who feel their club’s traditions have been lost.
Amid all this criticism, Enrique really didn’t help himself by being a surly, argumentative character who clearly viewed the media as his enemy and never did anything to attempt to ingratiate himself with the fans – he wouldn’t even acknowledge them with the merest of waves from the sidelines when they sang his name during games.
Those unsatisfactory personal skills also alienated him from his players, with Enrique appearing to spectacularly fail in the task of establishing personal bonds with his stars in the dressing room – not that he’ll be bothered by that kind of thing, anyway.
And yet, and yet…despite all these negatives it’s impossible to avoid going back to the honours board and seeing simple facts: Luis Enrique has won eight trophies during three seasons in charge.
However you look at it that’s impressive, especially when you also consider that Enrique’s Barca have produced lots of fantastically thrilling moments of attacking football.
Those eight trophies could become nine on Saturday, of course, and it would be difficult to begrudge Enrique one final moment in the sun if his team overcomes Alaves in the Copa del Rey final.
Luis Enrique has never been particularly popular, but he has been without doubt successful – sometimes spectacularly so – and he deserves to go out on a high.