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No clear message from either Del Bosque or Casillas


Around about a year ago, Vicente del Bosque said he'd be leaving his position as Spain head coach following the conclusion of his side's Euro 2016 campaign. That remained the line until he blurred the message somewhat some weeks ago by leaving a sort of "we'll see" hanging in the air. That "we'll see" was understood as his answer to a potential clamour to stay on if things had gone very well in France. But they didn't; they went pretty poorly. The team were knocked out in the last 16 and left people feeling sorely disappointed. Del Bosque had enough credit in the bank to survive the failure at the World Cup in Brazil, but I think he's used that up now.

Maybe he and Spanish FA chief Ángel María Villar don't believe that's the case. That's their prerogative. But what I really don't like is their lack of a clear statement on the future. I don't like it because I sense that, with each day this silence grows, Del Bosque's image - that of a man, moreover, who commands huge affection - can only suffer. He needs to realise he runs the risk of becoming a fly in the ointment - and he can hardly do worse than leave it to Villar, who's tossing up whether to stand for UEFA or the FA, to decide how to proceed. He's too great a figure to subject this critical moment in his life to Villar's whims and interests. I fear his standing will suffer.

Also fudging his message is Iker Casillas. Yesterday he resorted to a snippet from the movie Rambo to imply he's retiring from international football. It's original, it's 'cool', but it says much without saying anything at all. I can't help recalling how Andoni Zubizarreta confirmed the end, in my view with much greater clarity and elegance, with the line, "The bell has rung, playtime is over". True, he was hanging up his gloves altogether, not just calling time on Spain; but the great Casillas' retirement from La Roja - the captain who led their era of success, who took on José Mourinho for the team's sake - deserves better than a hint dropped using Rambo.