Spain manager Vicente del Bosque admits that there is uncertainty surrounding his future, following the side’s shock early exit from the World Cup after 5-1 and 2-0 defeats to the Netherlands and Chile respectively in their opening two group matches.
Having arrived in Brazil on the hunt for an unprecedented fourth consecutive major international title, elimination before even their final game against Chile was an astonishing way for the side’s six-year reign at the top of world football to come to an end, with many fans demanding wholesale changes as a result.
Taking over from the late Luis Aragones following the team’s Euro 2008 success, Del Bosque has overseen victory at both the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, but now he has refused to commit his future to the setup beyond this summer.
‘I have to say that we are still in the competition, even though the next game is useless for when it comes to qualifying through the group stage, but I don’t think that it is time to talk about my future,’ he stated.
‘All I can say now is that I will do what I consider is best both for the Spanish Federation and for football'.
‘I said it the other day; I don’t want to be an obstacle. I want to feel at ease and also the Federation to feel at ease with me so that we all remain competitive,’ he added.
‘If we must stay then we will stay. If we mustn’t then no problem. And we say it again; we will decide in the best interests of football.’
With many of the core players in the squad in their 30s, some have pointed to this having simply been a tournament too far for Spain’s 'Golden Generation', with captain Iker Casillas extensively criticised for his displays in goal and Del Bosque forced to drop former stalwarts Gerard Pique and Xavi due to poor form.
However, the manager sees his side’s uncharacteristic performances as a collective failure rather than being age-related.
‘Xavi is the oldest player in the team and his behaviour on the pitch is, and has been, exemplary,’ Del Bosque said.
‘But we know how things are in Spain. When players are 22 years old they’re the bright young men and when they reach 30 they suddenly become obsolete. I think that the other day it wasn’t the veterans who failed, neither the youngsters. We all failed.’
While Del Bosque’s tone and expression seemed very much like that of a man resigned to his fate, the 63-year-old’s potential departure does not necessarily represent the much-talked-about 'death of tiki-taka' either.
Although players such as Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Fernando Torres, David Villa and Casillas are all likely to be moved on, there remains a wealth of young talent at Spain’s disposal which should lift the current cloud of pessimism going forward.
Despite coming back down to earth with a bang, one would not be surprised at all to see names like Koke, Isco, Thiago Alcantara and Gerard Deulofeu leading the nation to success at Euro 2016 and ushering in a new run of dominance in the process.