Spain success marred by 'circus' over Luis Enrique's return
Barcelona – Spain cruised into the Euro 2020 finals by winning their last two matches 12-0 on aggregate and securing top spot and seeding for the tournament. But there was only recrimination for "La Roja" in Spanish media on Tuesday.
"Spain cannot be a circus" read Marca's front page after a bizarre Monday night in Madrid following the 5-0 victory over Romania.
Coach Robert Moreno should have been celebrating safely guiding the side through qualifying unbeaten but instead he appeared to be on the brink of leaving his job.
That was confirmed in Madrid on Tuesday as he departed from the job he took on a permanent basis last June with former coach Luis Enrique returning.
Spanish radio Cope reported on Monday that he was on his way out and that, even more dramatically, it would be Luis Enrique who would replace him.
Reporters waited for confirmation of this on Monday at Atletico Madrid's Metropolitano Stadium but there was no word from Moreno.
Of his own volition he had chosen not to speak and did not attend the post-match press conference.
Marca, among others, reported that he had said a tearful goodbye to the players in the dressing room at the end of the match and then made for home.
The president of Spain's Football Federation (RFEF) also declined to make an immediate comment. Luis Rubiales was heavily criticized on Tuesday for his handling of the matter.
Spain made a spectacle of themselves in 2018 when they sacked Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the Russia World Cup because he had negotiated his departure from the job so that he could take over as Real Madrid coach after the tournament.
The next change Rubiales had to make was also a difficult one for completely different reasons.
Luis Enrique had been appointed after the Russia World Cup but he felt he could no longer do the job when his young daughter Xana fell ill and subsequently died, aged nine, from bone cancer.
Luis Enrique had coached seven games and won five since taking over. Moreno, who was his assistant before tragedy struck, came in and changed very little.
His record was played nine, won seven, and with a very impressive plus-25 goal difference.
What perplexed most reporters who follow the Spain team on Tuesday was the apparent contradiction between Luis Enrique returning to his job and his friend and former assistant Moreno apparently being upset at no longer being the number one.
Moreno had said on various occasions that he would welcome Luis Enrique's return.
Former coach, and Luis Enrique biographer Lluis Lainz told Marca on Tuesday that Luis Enrique had personally requested to Rubiales that Moreno not be his number two.dpa