Next Spain manager: Who do La Roja turn to with Del Bosque bowing out?
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | July 3, 2016
Vicente del Bosque’s dynasty is done. Spain are searching for a new manager for the first time in eight years and getting this appointment right is arguably even more essential than the same decision facing the FA with England’s top job.
Under Del Bosque – a man synonymous with Real Madrid who bought into the tactics and style of El Clasico rivals Barcelona throughout his La Roja reign – the Spanish not only stayed as kings of Europe until now, but ruled the globe with a 2010 World Cup triumph in South Africa.
La Roja’s roar may have been cut short since the 2013 Confederations Cup final where they were comprehensively beaten by Brazil, followed by a group stage exit at the last World Cup and round of 16 elimination at the Euros by Italy, but they now approach a crossroads.
Yet Coral still have them as 8/1 second-favourites to win the next World Cup in Russia in 2018, and odds-on favourites to top their qualifying group that contains Euro conquerors the Azzurri.
Best bosses aren’t available
What direction do Spain go in and, more importantly, who is the right man to take the Iberian outfit forward?
One major issue surrounding the succession to Del Bosque is many of the top Spanish coaches are already employed elsewhere. Pep Guardiola, a major and initial proponent of the tiki taka style that Barca and La Roja have successfully cultivated, has moved from Bayern Munich to Manchester City, for example.
Unai Emery brought sustained success to selling side Sevilla with a hat-trick of Europa League crowns back-to-back before leaving and being snapped up by PSG. Perhaps if the Spanish FA had acted with greater swiftness they may have secured him.
Even Rafael Benitez, who many pundits thought would exercise his break clause following Newcastle United’s relegation, has opted to remain in his post. Who does that leave to fill Del Bosque’s shoes?
Enrique experienced, has successful profile
Current Barcelona boss Luis Enrique is one of the few men in modern times to have played for both the Catalan giants and El Clasico rivals Real.
As a coach, Enrique has won everything desirable with Barcelona, doing the treble in his first season and retaining La Liga and the Copa del Rey last term.
He cannot better what he has already achieved at the Nou Camp only match it, and the Spain vacancy thus offers Enrique a new avenue to explore if he wants to.
Already inventing a new ending to the tiki taka approach play that has served club and country so well in the past, Enrique’s emphasis on moving the ball quicker in the final third has yielded incredible attacking results.
Such a tactical tweak should suit some of Spain’s new blood, including rangy forward Alvaro Morata and diminutive potential strike partner Paco Alcacer – a player Del Bosque notably ignored when selecting his Euro 2016 squad.
Michel may be an option
Enrique’s old Bernabeu teammate Michel is another potential candidate, having coached in three countries. A goalscoring midfielder who was a mainstay in Madrid for a decade from the mid-1980s, he wouldn’t command compensation like the current Barca boss.
Last managing French football’s fallen giant Marseille, Michel made waves with Olympiakos prior to that and also preceded Emery at Sevilla.
Michel the player harks back to a bygone era, perhaps even more so than cultured attacking midfield cohort Enrique.
As a manager, Michel has tended to favour a playmaker, but if appointed by La Roja he’ll be charged with finding long-term replacements for Andres Iniesta and David Silva.
Marcelino and Valverde viable too
Elsewhere, the Spanish FA could easily turn to Athletic Bilbao boss Ernesto Valverde, who found following Marcelo Bielsa easier in the Basque Country than Michel did with Marseille.
Valverde’s career on the field has proved much the same as his time off it; steady work without regular reward of major trophies except in Greece with Olympiakos another piece of common ground with Michel.
La Roja could instead plump for a coach who has worked his way up in Marcelino Garcia Toral of Villarreal, who took the Yellow Submarine and made it resurface in Europe after entering troubled waters.
Marcelino’s remarkable work on former Spurs flop Roberto Soldado at El Madrigal shows how he can inject new confidence into a player drained completely of it. That should make this coach stand out as there may be a few Spanish heads in the camp that need picking up.
Caparros keen on job alongside ambitious Paco
Joaquin Caparros, whose coaching career began in 1981, is interested in the post having toured most of the Spanish provincial powerhouses throughout it.
Caparros’ best work came a decade ago, however, when he laid foundations for Sevilla’s sustained success with the back-to-back old UEFA Cup triumphs of subsequent coach Juande Ramos.
Paco Jemez, recently appointed at Granada, is the young pretender to La Roja’s vacancy, and he understood to have a release clause in his new club contract that frees him up to take the top job on if called upon.
Certainly worthy of the cult hero status he cultivated when bringing trendy Madrid neighbourhood side Rayo Vallecano into La Liga, there is still the feeling that ambitious Paco needs more on his CV before being considered for Spanish service.
You’ll find more international football features like this on Coral’s dedicated page.