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Sunday, January 29, 2023
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Spain coach shown the door

NOTHING surprising seeing big-name coaches being shown the door if their teams don’t perform on the big stage.

Perhaps you may say it’s part and parcel of the game, or even an occupational hazard.

But hats off to Spain national coach Luis Enrique who announced his departure from international football days after Spain lost to Morocco on penalties in the round of 16 clash of the World Cup in Qatar. Maybe the same for Brazilian coach Tite after the shocker penalty-kicks loss to Croatia.

More inspiring, he took the blame for the team’s non-performance as at the start of the tournament they looked among the odds-on favourites after the awe-inspiring 7-0 white-wash of Costa Rica.

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Even in my view, I thought this was Spain’s year as their strikers were simply awesome in their goalmouth finishings.

PARTING WAYS

In a statement by the Spanish football federation (RFEF), it was confirmed that the 52-year-old head coach would part ways with the national team just days after his side were knocked out of the competition in Qatar. 

The decision came after both parties agreed to not extend his current contract which expires at the end of the year.

“The RFEF would like to thank Luis Enrique and his entire coaching staff at the helm of the absolute national team in recent years,” read a statement on the Spanish FA website, which stated that a report had been sent to the president, suggesting a change in manager would be ideal for a “new project” to begin. 

It continued: “The coach earns the love and admiration of his collaborators in the national team and of the entire Federation, which will always be his home.”

FOURTH MANAGER

Spain’s Under-21 manager Luis de la Fuente is expected to replace him.

Enrique, who was first appointed Spain’s coach in 2018, had a contract until the end of the year. He is the fourth manager to get the boot.

De la Fuente joined the RFEF in 2013 as the Under-15 manager, having worked with players, such as Marco Asensio, goalkeeper Unai Simon, Eric Garcia, Pau Torres, Pedri, Carlos Soler and Dani Olmo when they were youngsters.

REVAMP SPAIN

Spain media said Enrique was initially hired in 2018 to revamp a national team that was struggling to move on from the golden generation of World champions from the 2010 World Cup.

Many would suggest that the former Barcelona coach did just that after introducing a host of youngsters like Pedri, Gavi and Ansu Fati. It is reported that Enrique would be keen to get back into club management now that his stint with the national side has come to an end.

Spain began their World Cup campaign in superb fashion after blanking Costa Rica 7-0. The initial euphoria soon turned sour. La Roja drew 1-1 to Germany, lost 2-1 to Japan before losing out in penalties to Morocco.

But whatever you may summarise, the big coaches know they have to throw in the towel if they don’t deliver the goods. 

The price of big-time football, perhaps?

* Suresh Nair is an award-winning sports journalist who is also a qualified international coach and international referee instructor.

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