Rumours began early on Wednesday that Spain were going to sack their manager, with Rafa Benitez being put forward around the media as a potential replacement (see below)
Current boss Julen Lopetegui was unveiled as Real Madrid’s new manager for next season on Tuesday, leading to chaos and anger in the Spanish camp.
It turns out that they nothing about this at all and the Spanish FA were only informed five minutes before Real Madrid announced the news.
Despite the World Cup kicking off in 24 hours time, and Spain playing massive rivals Portugal on Friday, the Spanish FA have indeed sacked Lopetegui.
Even though they say they wish him well in their announcement (see below), the Spanish FA are clearly furious with what has happened.
Whatever the case with Real Madrid and Spain, as I said this morning, no way could I see Rafa Benitez leaving Newcastle for Spain (not immediately or indeed any time before next season kicks off).
Rafa has given no indication he wants to leave club football management and will surely want to see what he can do next season with NUFC, after so much work these past two years.
Luis Rubiales President of the Spanish FA:
“We have been forced to dispense with the national coach. We wish you the greatest of luck.
“The negotiations have taken place without any notice to the Spanish, (we found out) just five minutes before the press release. There’s a way to act that needs to be fulfilled.
“I have a very close relationship with the players, as with Julen. It is a very complex situation, the most complex that I could find
“This is the team of all Spaniards. You can’t do things this way, 2-3 days before the World Cup. We have been compelled to make this decision
“I admire Julen very much, I respect him very much. He seems to me a top coach and that makes it harder to make the decision
“I’m sure this will, in time, make us stronger
“I know it’s a very difficult situation. I know there’s going to be criticism whatever I do. But the values of the Spanish FA means it cannot be left out of a negotiation by one of its workers and be informed 5 minutes before the press release. We have been compelled to act
The team will do everything to get the best results.”
The Mag – Wednesday 13 June (earlier today):
Rafa Benitez has been linked with the Spain job.
Tuesday brought the announcement that Julen Lopetegui had agreed to take over at Real Madrid.
Lopetegui will step down after overseeing Spain at the World Cup in Russia, taking over for the 2018/19 season.
He had a similar path to the job as Gareth Southgate, having spent four years managing at various youth levels with Spain, followed by a couple of years at Porto before taking over with the national side in 2016.
Yesterday’s announcement predictably prompted a number of lazy reports from journalists/newspapers claiming Rafa Benitez was under consideration for the Spain job.
It is an easy story to write about such an experienced manager who has experienced great success both home (in La Liga) and abroad.
However, Rafa clearly enjoys the day to day cut and thrust of being in club management and has given no indication he is ready to give that up any time soon.
Just because Mike Ashley is messing his manager about, doesn’t then equal Rafa Benitez wanting to jump ship to manage his country.
If he did finally say enough is enough with Mike Ashley, there would be plenty of ambitious clubs ready to offer him alternative employment.
After spending over two years doing a brilliant job of turning around Newcastle United, it would also take something special to make him give all of that up, just when there should be now the money available and opportunity to now progress properly his NUFC ‘project’.