Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Return Of Uncle Vicente

Nothing too heavy for blogging today, we are experiencing VERY HOT WEDNESDAY in Madrid and have all been advised to take it easy. So I’ll write about football to fill in some of the time while we are waiting for those meaningless pre-season tournaments to begin. Following success in the European Championship and the subsequent departure to Turkey of the eternally grumpy Luis Aragonés, Spain has a new coach for its national team.

The new appointee, Vicente del Bosque, is hardly an unfamiliar figure having been a former coach at Real Madrid. He was sacked by that club in 2003, at the height of the “Galacticos” era when Florentino Perez was president. Del Bosque didn’t lose his job at Madrid because of poor results, in fact he was the most successful coach the club has had in its recent history and the last one to preside over a Champions League victory. He left because he didn’t project the kind of image that Perez wanted in the era of Beckhams, Figos and Zidanes. He looked too much like…..a football coach. So he had to go, following the same misguided “logic” that saw the signing of Ronaldinho rejected on the grounds that he was “too ugly”. His dismissal marked the beginning of the largely trophy free years that led up to the eventual resignation of Perez.

If he can reproduce his success at Madrid with the national squad then he will turn out to have been a good choice. He begins with a heavy burden of expectation, now that Spain are European champions there are many who believe that the next World Cup could end up in Spanish hands too. The qualifiers for that tournament start soon, and there will be a lot of attention paid to Del Bosque’s first team selection. Given his links to Real Madrid, it will be curious to see whether he finds space in the squad for players Raúl or Guti without offending those who were part of the victorious European Championship setup.

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