How Stupid is the Spanish FA"s Decision to Sack Coach Lopetegui?

Hey, what do you think of the Spanish football team?

They’re one of the favourites to win the World Cup, right? Lots of good players, they’ve played brilliantly in their qualifiers and are unbeaten since Julen Lopetegui took over in 2016. You know, he really stabilised things for them after the mess of Euro 2016, and the last World Cup, giving them a real chance to go on and win this one.

It’s a pity they’ve fired him then, isn’t it?

WHAAAAT? WHY? HOW? WHEN?

Oh they just sacked him, like an hour or so ago. Got something to do with him agreeing to become Real Madrid’s manager after the World Cup, it seems.

But that makes no sense! So what if he’s going to take over at Madrid, that’s AFTER the World Cup!

Yeah, but it seems the Spanish FA is really pissed off because they were only given a head’s up about this whole Real Madrid thing five minutes before Madrid announced it at a press conference.

All that’s fine, but Spain’s first group match is in 55 hours or something like that! They’re playing Portugal on Friday, for heaven’s sake. Who’s going to take over and manage the team?

Former Spanish international and Sporting Director, Fernando Hierro, apparently. What’s the big deal with getting someone else to take over?

Really? Don’t you understand how important a coach is in football? They decide the formation, the tactics, the game plan, the squad, everything! They have unique styles, plans, strategies – and the players train and prepare according to those.

Spain’s entire World Cup preparation has been as per Lopetegui’s plan, getting any new manager in will destabilise those equations, confuse the players and throw everything out of whack.

Eh, Chelsea keep sacking managers, but they seem to do just fine. Why should Spain be any different?

Well, because Spain are all about their tactics, about having a pre-planned style of play, settling into rhythms. Sure, they’ve played tiki-taka possession football since 2008, but both Aragones and Vicente Del Bosque had their own unique take on it.

So has Lopetegui. Using Silva and Isco on the wings, picking the right striker to play up front – or no striker at all – and getting the right midfield balance. The squad has played according to his ideas for two years now, and for the last few weeks as well. And boy has it worked.

20 matches. 14 wins. 6 draws. 0 losses. 61 goals scored.
Lopetegui had the Spanish team playing brilliant football during his two years in charge.
Lopetegui had the Spanish team playing brilliant football during his two years in charge.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

Ok fine, so if all that’s there, all they need to do is keep playing that way, right?

Sure, that’s probably the best they can do to avoid disrupting things too much, but that’s not so easy. The players can surely try to play the same way and just get on with it, but you have to wonder what kind of effect this is going to have on them.

Lopetegui was really popular among the players, so much so that Madrid actually decided to appoint him thanks in large part to the response they got from the six Real players in the Spanish squad. When the news got out that the Spanish FA was considering sacking Lopetegui, the Spanish captain Sergio Ramos reportedly tried to convince them to abandon the idea.

I think we can safely say they’re not going to be skipping through the fields and singing happily about all of this.

But at least they’ve appointed someone who was already part of the national set-up – Hierro has been Sporting Director for the national side since November last year...

Yes, but he has minimal managerial experience. He was Real Oviedo manager for one season, and didn’t even manage to get them out of the second division. His only other managerial experience was as Real Madrid assistant manager for one season. That’s it. Ok, that should mean he won’t rock the boat, but it will also mean he’s less likely to be able to make tactical changes or know which substitutions to make, or just know how to handle a team full of stars.

New Spain coach Fernando Hierro.
New Spain coach Fernando Hierro.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

You know, now that you put it this way, this seems like a really stupid decision.

It’s beyond stupid. It could very well sabotage the Spanish World Cup campaign, and all for what? Because Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales felt betrayed?

What about the betrayal of the players? What about the betrayal of the fans? Does this one chap’s pride matter more than an entire country’s interests? If you’re so angry with Lopetegui, just fine him, dock his wages, do something like that which won’t affect the team so negatively.

But is it all really the Spanish FA’s fault? Couldn’t Madrid have announced it after the World Cup? Or at least, shouldn’t Lopetegui have just kept the FA informed? He was under contract with the national side till 2020, after all.

Oh no doubt. You can understand why Madrid needed to secure a replacement for Zidane as soon as possible to stabilise things, but surely they could have just informed the FA of their approach.

And Lopetegui was a complete moron for keeping things secret, given his contract and just basic etiquette. Even so, it’s not something bad enough to outweigh the damage done to the team by sacking him.

It’s a buffet of stupidity on display from all concerned here, but sadly, it’s those not at fault – the players, the fans – who will suffer the consequences.

So just how stupid do you think this whole thing is?

I’d give it a solid 10/10. Spain have shot themselves in the foot, the shin, the knee and the head, and Lopetegui’s own foolishness rivals Jose Mourinho’s decisions to sell Mo Salah and Kevin De Bruyne.

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