New Spain coach Enrique promises evolution and surprises

New Spain coach Luis Enrique with Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales during the presentation (REUTERS/Susana Vera)

MADRID, (Reuters) – Spain’s new coach Luis Enrique said on Thursday that his tenure in charge of the 2010 world champions would be all about “evolution, not revolution” but the former Barcelona manager also promised plenty of surprises in his first squad.

Famous for their tiki-taka possession-based passing game, Spain struggled at this summer’s World Cup having been one of the favourites heading into the tournament.

Their preparations were left in disarray when coach Julen Lopetegui was sacked on the eve of the competition when it emerged he had agreed to join Real Madrid and Fernando Hierro took charge temporarily.

They recorded just one group stage victory against Iran and were then eliminated by hosts Russia in the last 16.

“There won’t be a revolution, rather an evolution. You can evolve a style of play without altering it, as I showed at Barcelona,” Enrique told a news conference.

“Football is a continuous evolution and we’ll look to do just that to the current idea we have. We can play good football, be aggressive, control the ball and hurt our opponents. There’s things we need to improve, too.”

Enrique, who coached Barcelona between 2014 and 2017 winning two La Liga titles as well as the 2015 Champions League, also intimated he would pick players on form and style of play, rather than on reputation.

“I can’t wait to announce my first squad; there’ll be plenty of surprises, that’s for sure. The first list I composed had about 70 players on it.

“It’s good for them to not know whether or not they’ll definitely be included or not and I’ve not spoken to any players yet.”

One of his first tasks will be to resolve the international future of Barca defender Gerard Pique.

The 31-year-old had previously stated he was intending to retire from international football after the World Cup but has not publicly confirmed his position since.

“His is a special case as two years ago he said he was going to retire. I’d like to be able to count on all players and Pique is of course one of them. He’s shown what a player he is. You need to respect the players’ wishes, though.”

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