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Javier Clemente- NO MORE!


Up with Cyprus, Down with Clemente

By Joaquin Bueno

Every once in a while you read about upsets in the world of football, some big and some small. In the case of Cyprus vs. Spain, there was a big upset. It is different this time because now Spanish football finds itself at one of its lowest points ever, as the entire nation seeks retribution for the absolutely humiliating defeat. Perhaps the one fluke loss would be forgivable, but in the light of the poor coaching and performance in the World Cup for Spain, most Spanish supporters are now calling for coach Javier Clemente's head.

Clemente, Clemente, please no more! That is the plea of the Spanish football supporter, the aficionado who carries great pride for his colors. Clemente has turned the great tradition of Spanish football into a total travesty, a true disaster, bringing shame and anger to the fans and supporters. "Javy" has been a new kind of coach. Loss after loss, underperformance after underperformance, Javier has seemingly the highest job security in Spain. In Real Madrid, a coach quits under pressure for not winning the championship but earning a European Cup- but on the national team, a coach whose recent past is littered with lack of success has not moved. Much of this business is politics. Clemente has friends in the RFEF (Spanish Football Federation), the president Villar likes him, and he has not been booted. This should no longer be tolerated by anyone. Politics and football should be like oil and water- they should never mix, and the current state of the Spanish national team is a prime example of why. In June, they were tipped as the dark horses, potential winners of the World Cup, with a squad as strong as France or Italy's. After the Nigeria game, the team was a circus of clowns led by an useless Javier Clemente. Some say the fault was Zubizaretta's for his grave auto-goal error. I say it was Clemente's fault for not using one of Spain's many better keepers (Prats, Toni, Cañizares, Molina). He chose his countryman and lost the gamble. It was that loss against Nigeria that destroyed Spain in the greatest of all tournaments.

Now Euro 2000 is around the corner, and qualifying, for a nation of Spain's prestige, is almost a given. Now, after losing to Cyprus, it looks more diffcult than ever. Poor coaching lost the game to Cyprus, critics destroyed Clemente for his clear lack of called defenders. In the Cup against Nigeria, Clemente started the match with 6 defenders (Nadal, Campo, Ferrer, Sergi, Hierro, Alkorta). It seems that something is wrong with his thinking. As usual, the conservative coach continued to use Fernando Hierro as a central midfielder. That is foolish. Why? Because Hierro has been voted 1998's best DEFENDER by UEFA, not best midfielder. Many consider him the best DEFENDER in Europe during the 1990's. Well, Clemente has to answer similar questions now. It is such tactical foolishness that should have cost him his job after the World Cup.

Javier Clemente is certainly at fault for Spain's downfall. But the people "upstairs" are just as guilty for their unwillingness to IMPROVE the situation of football. Nothing has bettered during the reign of the Basque-loving Clemente, but now times are changing. Spain needs to move past his tired and boring era. Please Javier, if you are reading this, do us all a favor: QUIT!

Notable players "ignored" by Clemente:

Toni : GK, Espanyol. Toni was last season's leading goalkeeper in the Spanish league. He has been one of the league's most consistent keepers in the past 5 years.

Lardín : Midfield, Atletico. Jordi Lardin had an outstanding preseason in 1998 after a great seasons in the Liga. He is a dangerous goalscorer and passer with great speed.

Guerrero : Midfield, Athletic. Julen's record with the big team is impeccable: Spain has never lost when he hsa played. Yet Clemente did not count on him in France and dropped him for the Euro qualifiers. A necessary player for the team.

De La Peña : Midfield, Lazio (ITA). Totally ignored by Clemente at the "A" level, some speculate that it is because of his shaved head. An amazing passer, who slices through defenses like butter. Now the 3rd best paid player in Italy, his play is a crucial piece of the star-packed Lazio side.

Joaquin Bueno

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