Since winning the World Cup title in 2010, Spain’s national team has failed to make it past the ‘last 16’ at subsequent editions, managing just three World Cup wins since then, one each in 2014, 2018 and 2022. This year, “La Roja”, despite starting enthusiastically with a clear 7-0 win over Costa Rica, has not won a single match. A draw with Germany and a loss to Japan in their other two group matches followed. In the ‘Round of 16’, after a 0-0 draw with Morocco after 120 minutes, Spain succumbed on penalties, failing to score a goal from the spot from three shots.
Because he has been challenged in recent weeks, both in terms of his selection and his behaviour during the final tournament (the Spanish coach made a vlog on Twitch to keep in touch with fans), considered unreliable, Luis Enrique is now obviously receiving the most criticism and many people are wondering if he will continue or if he should continue in charge of the Iberian national team.
Luis Enrique Martínez has been the occupant of the Spain bench since 2018, when he replaced Julen Lopetegui and Fernando Hierro. He left the post in the hands of his assistant Robert Moreno for just a few months due to the death of his daughter, but returned in 2020 when he informed the Spanish Royal Football Federation that he was ready to return.
The Asturian coach had since accumulated very good results until his elimination in Qatar against Morocco in the World Cup round of 16.
At Euro 2021 he finished as a semi-finalist against a Spain team that didn’t look like title contenders, was runner-up in the 2021 Nations League and qualified for the World Cup as group winners, as well as the 2023 Nations League Final Four.
Although “La Roja” is going through a transition period, he has reinforced his commitment to young players and decided to leave veterans such as Sergio Ramos and Iago Aspas out of the national team, a move that has been widely disputed in the Spanish press.
The federation has always opted to renew coaches after qualifying for a European Championship or World Cup, but this was not the case with the Asturian.
The former Barcelona manager has not yet renewed his contract, which theoretically expires immediately after the World Cup, and has not given any indication of his ideas for the future.
In fact, after the elimination of Morocco, he said it was not the right time to talk about it. “It’s not the right time. I’m more anxious to get back home and I suppose from next week we’ll talk about what might matter in the future. If it were up to me, because of the affection of the president and Molina, I would continue my whole life with the national team. But I have to think about what’s best for the national team and for everyone, not just for me,” said Luis Enrique, who has taken responsibility for the mistakes he made in the “optima” with Morocco: “I chose the penalty takers from 11 meters. It was my responsibility. The players were superb in terms of their behavior, their personality… They did everything I told them to do. They did everything I told them to do, both me and my staff. I’m very proud of my team, sorry for those who couldn’t participate.”
Luis Rubiales has always maintained his confidence in Luis Enrique and has stated on several occasions that the Spanish Royal Football Federation’s intention is to renew the Asturian coach’s contract. But he probably did not imagine such an “exit” from the World Cup in Qatar either. José Francisco Molina, the federation’s sporting director, has also been more reserved about Luis Enrique’s future. “We understand that now we are all very disappointed, we will go back to Madrid and make the decision that needs to be taken. The two sides will decide what is best for everyone,” he explained.
Luis Enrique, who was paid €1.15 million per season at the Spanish national team after a reduction of his original commitment signed in 2020, will not be short of offers if he does not continue at the Spanish national team. In the summer, Manchester United, for example, made him an offer before appointing Erik ten Hag.
Nor will Spain be without a coach. Already the Spanish press has begun to float the names of possible replacements. One of them is Marcelino García Toral, and another is Roberto Martinez, who left the Belgian national team after the Red Devils were eliminated from the group stage in Qatar.