Even though Vicente del Bosque's mistakes caused Spain to relinquish their crown without a fight—nay, even a raised fist—the manager will not be sacked.
These errors took place before the tournament, in squad selection and while Spain were floundering against both the Netherlands and Chile.
He could further compound them against Australia in the meaningless final group match if he doesn’t start the necessary surgery on the team.
On Friday morning, the Spanish Football Federation said they wanted the 63-year-old to stay at the helm of La Roja even though he ran the ship ashore on this occasion.
Spain’s director of football, Jorge Perez, told radio station Cope (h/t The Guardian):
From top to bottom in the Federation we are all behind Del Bosque. If we have the best coach around, why would we change? When Del Bosque signed the contract he said that if there was any motivation that we thought he shouldn’t continue, he would leave. But I want him to stay. He won’t be affected by the criticism. His family might convince him to leave, but we aren’t going to find anyone better. Del Bosque has not resigned. If he does, we will try to convince him to stay.
Essentially, Del Bosque will only leave Spain if he decides enough is enough and he hasn’t got the energy to re-shape the team.
Creating a new Spain is something that should have begun after Euro 2012, which might have spared La Roja the indignity of their early exit.
Admittedly, tinkering with a team that had won the previous two European Championships and the World Cup would have been seen as risky.
But then again, most people would have looked at Xavi, who wasn’t at his vital best in Euro 2012 bar the final, and said that in two more years he would have physically declined.
Even if the Confederations Cup destruction at the hands of Brazil a year ago wasn’t warning enough, the poor season Barcelona had should have been.
If Xavi was struggling against some of the weaker sides in La Liga, frequently substituted by Tata Martino, then how was he going to cope against the Netherlands and Chile, two high-energy outfits, at the World Cup?
The only distinct change from Euro 2012 was the introduction of Diego Costa.
If the Atletico Madrid striker had been fully fit at the end of the season, it would have been a good—if not perfect—way to make the team more deadly.
But Costa had struggled with injury in the season’s final few games and never looked right for Spain in either fixture at the World Cup.
Xabi Alonso was particularly bad for Spain at the tournament, but he hadn’t been at his best for Real Madrid either.
It was Luka Modric and Angel Di Maria who were the most impressive performers at club level in midfield, with Alonso performing decently but not exceptionally.
In the Champions League final, Iker Casillas, having featured sporadically during the season, gave us a hint of what was to follow.
His mistake saw Atletico Madrid take the lead, and only Sergio Ramos saved Real Madrid as they eventually lifted "La Decima."
A bolder manager would have selected Manchester United’s David de Gea, who had enjoyed a strong season.
A bolder manager would also have gone with Atletico Madrid’s Koke over Xavi and put Ander Iturraspe in the squad.
A bolder manager would not have selected Fernando Torres and much less brought him on to little effect in both matches.
But Del Bosque is not an idiot. Perhaps he was afraid of dismantling his legacy, the one created by Luis Aragones, of a team filled with legends.
Casillas, Xavi, Torres, David Villa. All are players that Spain could have done without in this tournament.
But if they had been excluded and things turned sour anyway, there would have been hell to pay.
So if Del Bosque now stays, as appears likely, he will need to chop and change the squad. It will be painful but prudent.
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