Real Madrid needed a coach and maybe they could have held the news until the World Cup was over.
Kochi: The crisis that hit the Spanish national team two days before the World Cup following the untimely exit of head coach Julen Lopetegui has reflected in their performances in the group stage that was wrapped up Monday night with a hard-earned draw against Morocco.
Retired Spanish striker Fernando Morientes feels the situation could have been handled better as he remains hopeful of an improved display from the La Roja in the round of 16 clash against Russia.
Morientes, a La Liga ambassador now, was in the city to announce an inter-continental pre-season tournament involving Kerala Blasters, Melbourne City FC and Girona FC in Kochi from July 24 to 28.
“Many things were at stake,” said Morientes on the controversial sacking of Lopetegui by the Spanish football federation after the soon-to-be Real Madrid manager was accused of negotiating with the La Liga giants behind the federation’s back.
“Real Madrid needed a coach and maybe they could have held the news until the World Cup was over. But maybe they thought if Spain didn’t do well in the world cup that would be bad for Real Madrid. So there is no easy answer.”
Morientes, who hung up his boots three years before Spain’s maiden triumph in South Africa 2010 after securing 47 caps and two world cup appearances, has rallied behind the under-fire Spanish defence, and goalkeeper David De Gea in particular. Spain have conceded five goals in three matches with the Manchester United keeper making just one meaningful save altogether.
“It is very difficult to be a national team goalkeeper and to come after (Iker) Casillas is not easy. But De Gea is a very good goalkeeper. If he has a good game in the next round it will be good for him and the whole team.”
“(Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos) are untouchable. They are the best. The key is to defend together,” said Morientes.