Shaken Saez Quits After Euro 2004 Exit
Friday, June 25, 2004; 10:57 AM
By Emma Graham-Harrison
MADRID (Reuters) - Inaki Saez resigned as Spain coach
Friday after the team tumbled out of Euro 2004 and the head of
the Spanish football federation said he had been the victim of
a media "lynching."
Saez said earlier this week he would take his team to the
next World Cup in Germany in 2006 but changed his mind after he
was savaged by the press for his decision.
The head of Spanish soccer's governing body, Angel Maria
Villar, said Saez was one of the country's top talents, whose
achievements had been ignored in the wake of the national
side's ignominious exit from the European championship.
"Inaki Saez, as national coach, has been harshly
criticized. All of us in the football world have to accept
criticisms...but what we should not accept is a lynching,"
Villar told journalists after announcing Saez's decision.
"We believe...this lynching was (carried out) by a minority
group of professional journalists," he added when asked who he
thought was behind the attacks.
The Spanish press called for Saez to leave after a
performance that only reinforced Spain's nearly two-decade-long
reputation for disappointing at international tournaments.
Saez had little reason to complain about the early return
home after the team scored just two goals in three Group A
games, bowing out with a 1-0 defeat by hosts Portugal.
He boasted one of the most talented attacking sides in the
world but they disappointed in Portugal with captain Raul in
miserable form and top Champions League scorer Fernando
Morientes only occasionally threatening.
Villar said Saez, who did not comment on the reasons for
his change of heart, would continue to work for the federation
at a national level, possibly in some kind of coordinating
A committee would aim to have chosen a candidate to take
over as coach within weeks, but no one has been contacted yet,
Villar said, adding they wanted the person chosen to be
The front runner for the job is Mallorca's Luis Aragones,
according to Spanish media, a coach with 30 years' experience
and a glowing reputation in Spain.
Aragones, 66, has coached in a record 757 Primera Liga
matches and his teams have won a record 359 victories. He has
led clubs to triumph in one Primera Liga title, three King's
Cups and one Intercontinental Cup.
He has twice turned down offers to coach the national side
because he did not consider it the right time.
Spanish media reported Friday he had proposed forming a
think-tank of players, managers and journalists to discuss what
direction the national team should take.
Other front runners are Juande Ramos, a Malaga coach and
former Espanyol trainer and former Alaves trainer Jose Manuel
Esnal, commentators said.
Luis Fernandez, a former French international midfielder,
who helped save Espanyol from relegation last season and has
coached Paris St Germain, has also been mooted as a candidate.
Saez took the job after the 2002 World Cup following a
glittering record at youth level which included world and
The 61-year-old was seen as little more than a caretaker
but won the support of his players and after pulling Spain
through the qualifying rounds for Euro 2004 extended his
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