What next for Spain?

Vicente del Bosque’s brilliant managerial career ends on a sour note


Following elimination from the 2014 World Cup after today’s 2-0 loss to Chile, Spain’s domination of world football has come to a definitive end and so to has the illustrious career of La Furia Roja manager Vicente del Bosque.

Losing his side’s first two matches by an aggregate of 7-1 is an unbefitting way of bowing out of coaching for the quiet, calm, calculating and sometimes misunderstood del Bosque.

Our friends over at Soccerly have put together a brilliant testament to the man:

Del Bosque could lay claim to being the most decorated active coach in world football having won virtually every major honor at club and international level. After leading Real Madrid to two Champions League and two La Liga titles in three-and-a-half years in charge of Los Blancos, the call came to succeed Luis Aragones as Spain boss following their victory at the European Championships in 2008.

Taking over a side that had won its first major tournament in 44 years appeared a difficult act to follow, but Del Bosque’s calm demeanor and conservative tactics allowed Spain’s ludicrously talented generation to flourish. Two years after his appointment, Del Bosque led Spain to their first World Cup triumph in South Africa and followed that success by defending their European title in Poland and Ukraine in 2012.

Del Bosque arrived in Brazil hoping to join Italian Vittorio Pozzo as the only man to win the World Cup twice as a coach and become the first man to lead his side to three successive major tournament victories. It wasn’t to be. As someone who has never clambered to the top of the tallest tower to sing his own praises, he has at times perhaps been denied the accolades he deserves.

Many have contended that he was lucky to have coached the Real ‘galacticos’ followed by Spain’s golden generation. But in Madrid he expertly managed a dressing room full of bloated egos while with La Roja he has united the warring factions of Real and Barcelona. After a fierce spell of four El Clasicos in 18 days in 2012 that left scars on both sides of the divide, Del Bosque said he “feared” for the future of the national team.

Yet, guided by two of his most loyal lieutenants in Real captain Iker Casillas and Barca’s most decorated player of all-time, Xavi Hernandez, the splits were mended and a year later Spain were European champions once more. “He has taught me how to live with victory,” says Casillas.”He has maintained the same calm in tough moments and on days of glory parading a trophy. He has helped us as footballers and as fans. Respect and normality is what defines him day-to-day.”

There’s little doubt that del Bosque will be criticized for his side’s performance at the 2014 World Cup, in particular his decision to stick with the old guard of Iker Casillas and Xabi Alonso after performances that would have triggered most managers to make a change to the Starting XI. On the other hand, this fierce loyalty was arguably what made Spain so cohesive and so dangerous for so many years.

Either way, a legend has left the game.


Mourinho “working like never before” to turn Chelsea around

Jose Mourinho, Chelsea FC
Leave a comment

Jose Mourinho got the dreaded much-needed vote of confidence from Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich last weekend, seemingly giving the Portuguese manager a temporary stay of execution despite the Blues’ worst start to a season in 37 years.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking this week, Mourinho has revealed that while he’s thankful to have been kept on at the club for which he regularly professes his love, he still thinks it was no-brainer for Abramovich. In other words, Mourinho’s not backing down from his incredible, seven-minute rant to one question following Saturday’s defeat to Southampton.

Mourinho, on what he’s doing to turn Chelsea around — quotes from the Guardian:

“It shows the confidence of Abramovich in the manager who has won three Premier League titles with this club. I thank him and I keep working.

“What’s going on? I do not know. The results with Chelsea at the moment have been really bad. I cannot hide that reality, and I don’t want to. And I struggle to find an explanation. But I assure you: I’m working like never before and we will come out of this. And there is also the Champions League that we will not neglect, for certain.”

What did you expect from Mourinho? Well, you know, I should probably be fired, but thanks to Mr. Abramovich for not realizing this and keeping me employed? It’s simultaneously interesting and the least surprising thing ever, though, that Mourinho claims to not know what’s wrong with Chelsea at the moment. Of course he has a theory (or five), and of course he’s “working like never before” to correct it.

[ MORE: Ozil, Coquelin say Arsenal can win the title this season ]

The most fascinating thing about Chelsea’s sluggish start to the season is to see, hear and read Mourinho speaking from a position of powerlessness. Always the clever one, the one dictating where the discussion goes, the one in charge of every press interaction, Saturday’s rant felt like watching a desperate Mourinho grasping for anything by which to pull himself back up.

Reports link Guardiola with Manchester City summer move

Bayern Muenchen v Borussia Moenchengladbach - Bundesliga
Photo by Lennart Preiss/Bongarts/Getty Images
1 Comment

There are claims out of Spain that Manchester City has a verbal agreement to bring Pep Guardiola to town when his Bayern Munich contract expires in June.

Don’t expect comment from Guardiola, who bristles when discussing his future. In the past he’s hinted he might not be the right man for the Bavarian side, but has lamented any questions about clubs other than Bayern.

Now Mundo Deportivo writer Francesc Aguilar says there’s a secret agreement between Guardiola and Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain to reunite at the Etihad Stadium this summer.

[ MORE: Three big battles between U.S. and Mexico ]

Both Barcelona buffs and former Spanish internationals, Begiristain was Barca’s director of football when Guardiola took over for Frank Rjikaard in 2008.

Manuel Pellegrini signed a contract extension this summer and has led the club to a Premier League title, though the club has struggled in European competition. For what it’s worth, the Manchester Evening News got rumor reaction from Sergio Aguero:

On the latest Guardiola rumour, Kun said: “It has been talked about a lot. I don’t know him, but he’s a great manager and it’s wonderful to have the best managers train you.”

But he also added: “I’m very good with Manuel Pellegrini, we talk a lot. I’m happy in the team and with him, but the club will be the one who chooses who comes in.”

In other words, “I’m really good, and they pay me well enough that I’m prepared to play for any big name that arrives.”

It’s a story to keep up with, even as it intrudes on the seasons of two big, rich European clubs.