Luis Enrique: “I’m the best coach in the world - there’s your headline”
Spain’s coach announced his 26-man squad for the World Cup but refused to talk about those who missed out, including Sergio Ramos.
Spain coach Luis Enrique says he never feels in any doubt about his ability to lead Spain as he announced the squad he will be taking to this year’s World Cup. Spain’s last triumph at full international level was at Euro 2012 when they lifted the trophy for the third time - two years after being crowned world champions for the first time.
Luis Enrique was asked if he had any doubts about his leadership qualities after naming his 26-man squad at the RFEF headquarters in Madrid on Friday. He replied with typical irony, “How can I doubt that I am not the ideal man for the job, I am the best football coach on the face of the earth. I have to convince my players, and to do that, I cannot have any doubts. I am the best national team coach in the history of football. That might not be true, but that’s what I think. There you go, now you’ve got your headline... "
No Thiago, De Gea or Ramos
The coach explained that he settled on his squad at the last minute, including Barça’s Ansu Fati - the only player he had any real uncertainty about. Others, including veterans like Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcântara, Barcelona’s Marcos Alonso and Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea were omitted from the squad as Luis Enrique places his faith in a new generation - many of whom will be experiencing their first World Cup.
The coach added that flying out to Qatar with a youthful squad is a risk worth taking. “Just because it’s a World Cup, it doesn’t mean that I won’t take the players I have included in my list, even if it is there first time at the tournament,” he explained. “This is Luis Enrique’s squad. You will not be in any doubts with what you are going to see - a team that wants to dominate in attack, that will battle in every game, that will press high up the pitch. Will that be enough? It’s impossible to say right now”. But he refused to talk about the players who won’t be travelling to Qatar. “I’m not going to get into that because it’s just tittle-tattle at the end of the day and it is something which every national team coach has to deal with. I give thanks and recognition to all of the players who have participated during my time as Spain coach. I’ll talk about the ones who are here, of those players, I talk about whatever you like,” he said.
Looking ahead to the tournament, he concluded, “On the personal level, I’m delighted, full of energy. I remember my coaches and how they experienced it. When I was a player I thought that the coach should be ignored, that he should call me for the squad and just leave me alone. I see it differently now”. Spain resume training on Monday and will travel to Amman the next day for a friendly against Jordan as a warm-up for their World Cup opener against Costa Rica on 23 November.