Miles Starforth: Does Liverpool outcast Jose Enrique regret quitting Newcastle?

Jose Enrique
Jose Enrique

Remember Jose Enrique? Of course you do.

But it’s been a long time since he’s been seen on a football field.

And Enrique is no longer seen or heard on Twitter. Or Instagram for that matter.

The 29-year-old – who left Newcastle United four years ago in search of trophies – has quit both social networks.

Enrique isn’t the first footballer to deactivate his Twitter account. And he won’t be the last.

Over the past few years, Enrique’s followers have seen photographs of him swimming with dolphins, relaxing on a yacht and posing on an Uberboard.

He was labelled him a “joke of a footballer” after he posted a photograph of himself at a crazy golf course.

The problem has been is that he hasn’t been playing much football – 805 minutes in the league over the past two seasons – and Enrique admitted fans had snapped over his snap-happy social media ways in his last post.

Enrique said: “I thought it was good to share with the fans pictures but I think they have been killing me for that.

“Ok, chao (sic) Instagram and Twitter. Focus on play (sic) football and show myself again.”

Jose Enrique

Jose Enrique

Maybe ironically, it was a Twitter rant that got Enrique his move to Anfield.

Personally, it was memorable for all the wrong reasons. The rant came midway through the club’s tour of the USA four years ago, which itself came midway through a stateside heatwave.

Too much sun? Maybe, but it had been brewing, just like that afternoon’s storm in Orlando, Florida.

Two days after Andy Carroll left for Liverpool in January 2011, Newcastle were beaten 1-0 by Fulham thanks to a Damien Duff goal.

Enrique isn’t the first footballer to deactivate his Twitter account. And he won’t be the last.

The defeat was nothing out of the ordinary.

But Enrique, an emotional character at times, was seconds into an extraordinary rant when a pitchside post-match interview at Craven Cottage with another journalist and myself was abruptly stopped by a club official.

It was clear he wasn’t happy with Carroll’s sale – and the club’s direction.

Five months later, Enrique boiled over as the daily thunderstorm headed towards Orlando.

I wasn’t happy. I’d filed all my copy for the following days paper, and I had a few hours to relax by the pool before catching a late flight to Columbus, Ohio, for the final leg of what had already been an eventful tour.

It didn’t turn out to be a very relaxing afternoon.

Jose Enrique

Jose Enrique

In a series of tweets in Spanish and broken English, Enrique tore into the club’s hierarchy.

“The club is allowing all the major players of the team to go” he tweeted. “Seriously, do you think it is the fault of the players? Andy (Carroll), nobby (Kevin Nolan) etc etc.

“This club will never again fight to be among the top 6 again with this policy.

“I think you fans are the best and you deserve the best, not what they are doing with the club.”

Enrique, fined for his outburst, followed Carroll to Anfield the following month.

One of his tweets – the one about never being in the top six again – quickly came back to haunt him.

That season, Newcastle finished fifth, while Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool came home in eighth.

United fans taunted the left-back with the chant “Jose Enrique, we’re in the top six”.

Enrique had to listen to all but Liverpool’s travelling fans chanting that when he was forced to go in goal for his new club at St James’s Park after Pepe Reina’s dismissal during a 2-0 win for Newcastle in April 2012. It was a forgettable afternoon for Enrique, Dalglish and Liverpool.

That said, Enrique had helped the club win the League Cup a couple of months earlier. He got his medal. United, sadly, haven’t come close to winning a trophy since his departure.

But Enrique’s Anfield career has slowly unravelled over the past two years, and he was not involved in the club’s pre-season preparations. He hasn’t kicked a ball in anger since January.

Speaking last month, he said: “The club have alienated (Mario) Balotelli, (Fabio) Borini and me.

“I have a year left on my contract and I imagine the club will want to sell, but I still want to stay and fight as I always have.”

There was little sympathy on Tyneside for the “alienation” of Enrique, a player who took time to adjust to English football after his move from Villarreal in 2007.

But he got stronger and fitter, and eventually found his stride.

An attack-minded full-back, Enrique was happier on the front foot, especially in tandem with close friend Jonas Gutierrez, who was himself critical of the hierarchy after his exit this summer.

Brendan Rodgers has made it clear that Enrique’s future lies elsewhere.

Linked with moves to Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion on transfer deadline day, he was not even named in Liverpool’s Europa League squad.

But does he regret leaving St James’s Park?

After all, he was loved and appreciated on Tyneside, and he now finds himself an outcast of sorts on Merseyside.

The grass isn’t always greener in football.

Those of us who support and write about United would like to think he does regret leaving the club.

Many have quit Newcastle in haste and repented at their leisure over the years.

But Enrique has a medal and a much healthier bank balance, so maybe not.

Jose Enrique

Jose Enrique