Spain snapshot: is there life after Vicente del Bosque for La Roja?
Spain’s implosion at the 2014 World Cup, and their subsequent struggles in the Euro 2016 qualifiers, will have been a shock to a generation of younger fans that have recently seen La Roja lift a succession of trophies.
Older followers, however, would have to cast their minds back to 1964 to see Spain (11/2 to win Euro 2016) celebrate a triumph, with the Iberian outfit ranking alongside England as consistent under-achievers until their Euro 2008 triumph turned the tide and heralded a new era.
With the news that World Cup-winning coach Vicente del Bosque, who is synonymous with Spain’s success, intends to step down after Euro 2016, Coral writers contemplate who may be in the frame to take over the Iberian outfit.
Speaking recently, Del Bosque stated:
“In life you can never be sure of anything but yes, that’s my intention: to continue until 2016 in France and then to leave. The [Spanish] federation needs to prepare a gentle transition [to his successor] but I will stay close to football and the federation.”
If the Spanish FA decide not to leave anything to chance and attempt to lure a big-hitter with enough gravitas and conviction in their ideals to replace Del Bosque, there could be no better fit than Guardiola.
The former Barcelona boss has played a huge part in the development of many of the current crop of stars and their playing style, so would be a natural successor. He will also have had ample time to win it all with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich by then, so the supposed vacancy could arrive at the perfect time.
Guardiola, 43, would still be relatively young by the summer of 2016, so the limited interaction with players over the course of a season may be a sticking point. However, the prospect of blooding in a new generation would surely appeal.
Despite being much-maligned by Inter Milan fans and a source of amusement to numerous Premier League followers, Benitez has a credible track record and is still highly-rated in his homeland for breaking the Barca-Real Madrid duopoly on La Liga.
The former Valencia tactician has proven on numerous occasions that he excels in cup competitions, and an experienced and stable hand could prove crucial to continuing Spain’s success. However, fans may understandably worry that the 54-year-old could tinker too much, after the ex-Liverpool manger was blamed for Inter’s post treble-winning slump.
Current Porto boss and former Spain cap Lopetegui is flavour of the month, but has much to do before being considered to lead his home country. Having excelled as a national youth coach, winning both an under-19 and under-21 European championship, he will surely remain in the thoughts of the Spanish FA. Especially considering he helped nurture upcoming Spain stars such as Isco, Koke and Iker Muniain, who are key to the future.
The Everton boss was lauded for his side’s swashbuckling form last term, but the Catalan coach has so far failed to replicate that success this season. A significant feat such as a cup win or a top four finish with the Merseyside men would be required for Martinez to be able to compete with his potential rivals for the post. Still young, the FA Cup winner with Wigan Athletic has promise, but will need more on his CV to stand out.
Spanish football always seems to find a place for former legends, and loves to promote from within. Whilst there would be plenty of Barca-bred students such as Xavi Hernandez or Carles Puyol prepared to step up, perhaps Spain’s future may rest with a former Bernabeu star.
Raul Gonzalez would be the romantic choice for La Roja, after suffering years of tournament pain as a player. He recently hinted at an interest in coaching, stating: “To come [back] to Madrid is always in my head. But for that, a transition is necessary, and an apprenticeship to know if I am capable of doing something which can help.”
Depsite the respect that the prolific forward would command, 2016 still looks a little too soon.
‘The Special One’ is a man who still has unfinished business on the continent, following his acrimonious exit from Real and bitter relationship with Barcelona. Controversial Portuguese coach Mourinho was not on good terms with the Spanish media either, but who would bet against him to return to prove a point and rankle his fellow Iberians by leading them to a World Cup triumph?