Pique comes out in defence of under-fire coach Luis Enrique

The defender decried fans who booed manager in Sunday's laboured 2-1 home win over Leganes


Reuters February 21, 2017
PHOTO: AFP

BARCELONA: Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has decried the fans who booed manager Luis Enrique and the players in Sunday's laboured 2-1 home win over Leganes in La Liga as having a short-term memory.

The game was Barca's first since last week's 4-0 humiliation at Paris Saint Germain (PSG) in their Champions League last 16, first leg - the worst defeat of Luis Enrique's coaching career.

Pique, a World Cup winner in 2010 and European champion in 2012 with Spain, said at a promotional event on Monday that the players and supporters owe Luis Enrique a debt of gratitude for all the success he has brought since taking the helm in 2014.

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"When Luis Enrique arrived, we were in the absolute shit," said Pique. "I would like that we remember all the work he has done with us and all that he did during his time as a player.

“I can't understand the booing, the short-term memory. Its eight titles out of [a possible] 10 with this coach. We are with him to the death."

Among the eight titles, Luis Enrique guided Barcelona to a La Liga, King's Cup and Champions League treble in 2014-15.

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They retained the La Liga and King's Cup titles last season, and now once again reached the King's Cup final, which will be played in May.

"We still have options in the three competitions, although in the Champions League it's very, very difficult," he said.

Barca will hope to become the first team to recover from a 4-0 first-leg deficit in Europe's elite club competition to progress when they host PSG on March 8 at the Camp Nou.

Meanwhile, Barcelona have work to do, according to Pique. "We need to recover our game," he added. "We have been one-and-a-half months without playing the football that we're accustomed to. It's costing us more than usual. I'm certain the coach is in his office thinking about it."

Barca will fall four points behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid on Wednesday if Zinedine Zidane's team win one of their two games in hand when they play at Valencia.

Pique is annoyed that supporters booed Barcelona when they needed a late Lionel Messi penalty to beat Leganes. "Barca is the club of my life and I know how things go," he said. "I can understand the discontent but I'm not in agreement on how it's manifested."

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