los secretos – the transition to Vicente del Bosque I
We’re back to Los secretos! The chapter is called “La inteligente transición de Del Bosque” (the intelligent transition to Del Bosque), and this is the first part. It gives the history of how Vicente del Bosque was chosen as the successor to Luis Aragonés, and how the transition was carried out.
The RFEF had asked Luis Aragonés in September 2007 if he wanted to continue as head coach of the national team after Euro 2008, and he said no. Thus, the Federation began looking for someone new. Fernando Hierro, named sporting director that same month, had Vicente del Bosque in mind. He asked VDB if he would be okay with Hierro nominating him, and VDB gave him the go-ahead.
Vicente del Bosque and his assistants Toni Grande and Javier Miñano were presented as the new coaching team on July 17, 2008, just about two weeks after Spain had won the Eurocopa. Later on, Paco Jiménez and Antonio Fernández would join the team. The only holdover from Aragonés team was goalkeeping coach José Manuel Ochotorena.
Del Bosque’s first talk with the players came before a friendly on Aug. 20 against Denmark. It lasted 45 minutes, and his purpose was to gain the confidence of his players. His first words were, “we haven’t come to usurp the place of anyone… You all are part of the history of Spanish football, but we shouldn’t be content with that, we shouldn’t be talking about how great we are. We have reasons to set new goals.”
VDB: “I would like my players to see me as a normal person who understands them, who likes to work, and who is capable of doing the job.” His pre-game talks don’t usually last more than 12 minutes: “the first thing a player does is look at the chalkboard to see if he’s playing. If he’s playing, he’ll be attentive, and if not, he won’t listen. If you talk for more than 20 minutes, they start fidgeting, coughing, and you realize they’re not paying attention.”
Only one of the players on the team had worked with VDB and his staff before: Iker Casillas, who was 22 when VDB left Real Madrid. They noticed that Iker had changed. Del Bosque: “back then, he listened more than he spoke. Now, he speaks more than he listens. Before, he was just another player and now he’s one of the leaders.” Toni Grande: “he’s more of a man, more preoccupied with things. He’s an example for everyone.” Javier Miñano: “I’ve never seen him so focused. Whenever he gets his teammates together, he sets a tone of seriousness with his look. Even when he’s not playing, he maintains this attitude, and that is very good for the group.”
Álvaro Negredo got a taste of that during his second call-up with the team, when he arrived late at Las Rozas due to traffic. He had to pay the corresponding fine, and Iker also said to him, very seriously, “you, máquina, you arrive when you want, ¿eh?”
Tomorrow, the rest of the chapter, including various players reflecting on the míster, and the story behind Jesús Navas’ battle to join the national team.