By Brian Reece
Official Winner of the EOTK September Writer of the Month
The arrival of José Enrique certainly raised some eyebrows among the Anfield faithful when he joined Liverpool from Newcastle for £6m.
Many fans and some ex players were questioning the Spanish full backs defensive capabilities, José’s brilliant crossing skills and attacking capabilities were never in debate, but some believed that Enrique had a defensive weakness.
The Spaniard did display a lack of defensive positioning while at Newcastle but when we look at these issues in more depth it becomes very clear that it was not Enrique who is at fault, it was the covering and positioning of the Newcastle midfield and defenders who are to blame.
Newcastle simply didn’t give Enrique the required cover while he moved forward, so when an attack broke down José would find himself without cover and too much ground to make up due to the failure of the Newcastle midfield to cover the space left by the attacking full back.
If he had better players along side him at Newcastle then the transfer fee would have been much more than £6m.
In the early days of his career at Villarreal he earned himself the bold nickname of “El Toro” meaning “The Bull” for his physical presence and eagerness to support in attack.
During his time at Villarreal Enrique started to make his mark on the international stage for the Spanish U21’s, José Enrique was becoming one of Spanish football’s most wanted, in 2007 Liverpool and Manchester City both made enquiries for his services but it was Newcastle who won the battle for him in a deal worth £6.3m.
In refection it was properly the best decision he made at that time, if Enrique had signed under Benítez would he be still a Liverpool player? I think not.
The mark of the man and the professional came when Newcastle endured relegation from the Premier League in 2008-09 season, instead of bailing out of Newcastle Enrique told both club and supporters that he would stay and get Newcastle back into the Premier League, true to his word Newcastle returned to the Premiership and Enrique had the honour of being voted player of the season by the fans.
In August 2011 he completed his dream move to Liverpool and two days later started the opening game of the season against Sunderland, he has shown promising signs since joining and received the vote of man of the match against Arsenal.
Enrique gives us a different attacking option and links well with the wingers, all the fears of his defensive weaknesses have evaporated due to the solid performances which he has shown since arriving.
What he provides is a strong and physical presence in defence combined with superb attacking qualities, the Spanish defender cost Liverpool £6m and in today’s transfer market and inflated prices Liverpool have secured a fantastic full back at a rock bottom price.
Only time will tell if Enrique will become a legend but he has all the qualities to do so and if Liverpool keep progressing as a team then who knows what “El Toro” can do.