Richard Buxton: Luis Enrique can finish what he started
Spain coach can rebuild from tiki taka's ruins, with his hardwired thinking the best chance to regain their glory
Luis Enrique again stands over the crumbling ruins of tiki taka with a sledgehammer.
In the run-up to Euro 2020, Spain's returning coach can finally finish what he had started.
Personal heartache, with the tragic loss of his nine-year-old daughter to bone cancer in August, forced him to put that grand masterplan for the national side's reinvention on hold.
But a rested and rejuvenated "Lucho" now seeks to replicate his greatest body of work, after being given carte blanche to transform La Roja in the way he brought Barcelona back to life.
The manner of his shock re-appointment embodies the reckless abandon with which the country's football association has treated La Seleccion ever since Julen Lopetegui secretly brokered a deal to join Real Madrid before last year's World Cup had even got underway.
Yesterday morning's (Singapore time) 5-0 win over Romania ensured that Robert Moreno bowed out as Spain's third manager in recent years to lose none of his games in charge.
Tears flowed in the dressing room post-match as the current incumbent announced his departure. His successor, and predecessor, rarely commanded those levels of raw emotion.
Enrique has always been set apart from those who went before and after him. He is driven to succeed but not in the same way as Pep Guardiola, his one-time Nou Camp sparring partner.
His honour roll may be plentiful, but is seldom appreciated. He holds a place in history as Barca's third most successful manager, behind only Guardiola and Johan Cruyff - and statistically their greatest with a win ratio that is yet to be surpassed, over two years since leaving.
Yet personal acclaim is minor, compared to that reserved for the patron saints of purism.
Where Guardiola was schooled exclusively at the knee of Cruyff, Enrique took his lessons from the likes of Jorge Valdano and Louis van Gaal that moulded his authoritarian and even abrasive style.
Players will run through brick walls for him, although not necessarily out of choice.
His truncated first spell saw Spain's charges subjected to a joyless existence. The strict discipline of a club-management approach saw mobile phones, PlayStation and their nation's favourite pastime, Ludo, all banished in the build-up to their latest competitive fixtures.
Such hardwired thinking, however, is his country's best chance of retaking their once-rightful place at the centre of the footballing universe in seven months.
A clear identity ran through their tiki-taka dominance, just as it did Guardiola's Barca. Once their moment in the spotlight had passed, the ugly remnants became an insult to its legacy.
Players from the Catalan giants were omnipresent in a team that won two European Championships and a World Cup in four years, but fragmentation is now the order of business.
Of Moreno's final 23-man squad, Sergio Busquets was Barca's sole representative. Villarreal, 11th in La Liga, boasted the highest with four.
Those numbers are unlikely to shift drastically under Enrique, who picked just one of his former lieutenants last time around.
Bookended by humiliating World Cup exits, Spain have died by tiki taka's hand several times over. Shaking its stigma has become easier said than done for a succession of coaches.
True to his cycling obsession, though, Enrique prefers to reach the podium without preamble.
It may not be easy on the eye, but is exactly what Spain need ahead of next summer's Finals.