The redemption of Del Bosque

Story by Aaron Bliss

He may resemble Droopy Dog, with his hangdog face and noble moustache, but comic caricature Vicente Del Bosque most certainly isn’t. In creating history with his Spanish side, becoming the first side to win three major trophies in a row, and the first to retain the European Championship, Del Bosque has enjoyed something of a redemption of his own character.

It sounds farcical to suggest Del Bosque needed a renaissance to be considered a managerial great. This is, after all, the man who managed Real Madrid through their most successful period since the European-conquering days of Di Stefano and Puskas. Between 1999 and 2003, Del Bosque guided the club to two Champions League titles, two La Liga titles, a Spanish Supercup, a European Super Cup, and the Intercontinental Cup, as well as finishing in the last four of the Champions League every year he was in charge. He presided over the height of the ‘Galacticos’ era, delivering the success expected but which has not been maintained to such consistent levels since his departure. Most argue that the reasons for his exit from Real Madrid were purely image-conscious; he was not deemed interesting or charismatic enough to be manager of the most-esteemed club side in Europe.

An unsuccessful spell at Besiktas followed, but Del Bosque never revived the glories of his Real tenure. Rumour has it he even turned down the Spanish job in 2004, in the wake of their disastrous Euro 2004 campaign, but, after Luis Aragones had finally broke the curse of failure in 2008, Del Bosque took the reigns. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Winning the ultimate prize in 2010 with a brand of football hitherto unseen on the world stage was remarkable enough, but Del Bosque has also proved his tactical nous, with a formation hitherto unseen in Euro 2012. Playing with six midfielders and no unorthodox striker, and yet not being perceived as defensive, was an incredible accomplishment. With an embarrassment of midfield riches, Del Bosque could afford to make brave calls, like leaving out Euro 2008 hero Torres more often than not, and giving 30-goal Fernando Llorente no game time, yet he confounded opponents time and again.

We now must all accept we are witnessing one of the great football dynasties before our very eyes. 1950s Hungary, 1970s Brazil, Spain 2008-who knows when. These teams provided us with new styles, new superstars, new methods of deployment for the beautiful game. Del Bosque has now cemented his place in the pantheon of international greats. If you needed any more convincing, he is now the only coach to win the Champions League, European Championship, and World Cup.

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