Spain boss Del Bosque to decide future after World Cup
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque says he will decide his future after the current World Cup is over, but refused to confirm he will be in charge when Euro 2016 qualifying starts in the autumn.
Del Bosque's side lost both their opening games in Brazil -- 5-1 to Netherlands and 2-0 to Chile -- thereby becoming the first defending champions to exit the following competition after just two group games.
Such a change in fortunes has led to speculation that the long-serving coach could now step aside with a new man coming in to oversee a renovation of the team, with veterans Iker Casillas, Xavi Hernandez, David Villa, Xabi Alonso, Pepe Reina and Fernando Torres all possibly retiring from international football after Monday's final group game against Australia.
Del Bosque -- who has received backing to stay on -- told a news conference at the Spain camp in Curitiba that it was too early yet for him to say what his own plans were.
"We are still in a competition," the 63-year-old said. "I do not believe this is the moment to talk about my future. I will do the best for everyone. I will try and be absolutely correct with the federation. I see myself as defender of the federation and of the sport. If me staying is uncomfortable for our football then I will go. In September we start qualifying for Euro 2016. What I am sure of is that our team and federation will keep working perfectly."
A main talking point since Spain's exit has been Xabi Alonso's claims after the Chile defeat that the defending champions were not in good mental or physical shape for the competition, and lacked the required hunger to win again.
Santi Cazorla said at Friday's earlier pre-training news conference that he did not share this point of view but denied the Real Madrid player's comments had opened up any rift in the camp.
"We have a good group. We have shown that when we win," Cazorla said. "There were no doubts about Xabi Alonso or any other teammate. Not at all. They overcame us, Chile and Holland -- that can happen in football. I do not believe there was a lack of hunger, nor ambition. We must finish now as best we can and look to the future. There are lots of good young players. We must see what happens."
One of those young players is 22-year-old Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke, who is seen by many as likely to succeed Xavi Hernandez long-term in the Spain midfield, and also perhaps at Barcelona too.
Asked directly if he saw himself as the direct replacement for the Catalan -- who could be set to join Qatari club Al Arabi -- Koke said nobody could ever truly replace such a unique player.
"The question is difficult because there will only ever be one Xavi," Koke said. "For what he has achieved, and for how he is. You [journalists] can say in what ways we are similar."
On the Barcelona rumours, he said: "I have a contract with Atletico, I am very happy there, and there is nothing else to say."