We are one day away from World Cup 2018 kicking off, and Spain are suddenly in disarray. Yesterday, Real Madrid would hire national team manager Julen Lopetegui to be their next boss. However, he wouldn’t get to start until after the World Cup. But it looks like he doesn’t have to worry about that anymore. This morning, Spain decided to fire Lopetegui just before the World Cup kicks off. Per ESPN’s Dermot Corrigan, a lack of communication is to blame.
“We have been obliged to fire the national coach,” Royal Spanish Football Federation chief Luis Rubiales starts. “We wish him the best, he has done an excellent job in getting us to the tournament. But the federation cannot be left outside the negotiation of one of its employees, and find out just five minutes before a public announcement. If anybody wants to talk to one of our employees, they have to speak to us too, that is basic, as this is the team of all Spaniards. The national team is the most important we have, the World Cup is the biggest of all.”
Now we’re not suggesting letting something like this go and dealing with it later, of course. But this is madness. There is bad timing, then there’s whatever this is turning into. Spain are one of the favorites in Russia for a reason. And while the players at their disposal all have the talent to press on, can you imagine how jarring this is? Per Sky Sports, Fernando Hierro — recently holding the title of sporting director — will take over for Spain.
“Fernando Hierro will assume the position of national coach in the World Championship of Russia,” says Rubiales. “…he will debut in Sochi at the match of Spain against Portugal.”
Oh yeah, Spain kicks off their 2018 bid against the 2016 European Champions. And while Portugal did have the good fortune of the third-place finish at the Euros, they’re not going to be easy. After all, they got through end rounds just fine right? As for the new Spain boss, well, he doesn’t boast too much coaching experience. Hierro did manage Real Oviedo — of the Spanish second division — but only for one season. Before that, he would act as an assistant for Real Madrid (2014-15). Again, not much experience to boast about there. As a player, however, Hierro spent 14 years (1989-2003) as part of Madrid’s central defense — capturing five La Liga crowns and three UCL titles in that span. So he does have plenty of experience in that regard.
Plus, Spain definitely have the talent to cope with such a sudden change. But now it’s solely up to the players to relieve the pressure on their federation.