He may be only the seventh-highest paid manager at this tournament, despite leading Spain to World Cup and European Championship success in the past four years, but for Vicente del Bosque it’s not all about the money.
Russia’s head coach Fabio Capello, on almost £7million a year, not surprisingly heads the list of earners, according to the Daily Mail, with Roy Hodgson, the Italian’s successor with England, coming in second on £3.5m a year. Not bad work if you can get it.
In third is Cesare Prandelli (Italy, £2.57m), followed by Luiz Felipe Scolari (Brazil £2.36m), Ottmar Hitzfeld (Switzerland, £2.31m) and Joachim Low (Germany (£2.14m). Del Bosque, on just over £2m a year, is a relative pauper. Not that he would complain.
Subscribers to the theory that David Moyes was on a hiding to nothing when succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United may not have envied Bosque’s task as he inherited from Luis Aragones the newly crowned European champions in July 2008.
How could he possibly better that? Well, better it he did, initially setting a world record by winning his opening 13 matches and steering Spain to the 2010 showpiece in South Africa with a perfect qualifying record.
Still, not everyone was willing to back a team short of genuine strikers to lift a first-ever World Cup, on foreign soil, but those cautious punters paid the price as Spain’s now famous tika-taka football eclipsed the uncharacteristically ruthless Dutch in the final to land the ultimate prize.
Spain’s array of ball players and pressers like to dominate possession and the threat they pose is as much mental as physical: opponents are unable to rest for fear of being undone by a pin-point pass or a lightning quick attack.
It was a style of play that served Spain equally well as they defended their European crown two years ago. In Russia and Ukraine, critics again pointed to the fact they were lacking an end product but the moustachioed Del Bosque could be forgiven a wry smile as they swept aside Italy 4-0 in an audacious display in the final.
For Del Bosque, once a gifted midfielder for Real Madrid, it’s not just about spectacular results. Unlike Van Gaal, he puts man management high on his agenda. Xavi, one of his most important players, recalls having to persuade his boss to take him to Euro 2012 as there were suggestions he would be dropped. After successfully doing just that, Xavi said: “Vicente is the most human person I have ever seen in a dressing room.”
For the former international striker Luis Garcia, Del Bosque’s skills as a footballing alchemist struck a chord. “Vicente [Del Bosque] is one of the best coaches Spain have had,” Garcia says. “He has the ability to make players better and to mix the quality of each one to make a perfect machine.”
There are still doubts about the focal point of Spain’s attack, and all Del Bosque’s personal skills may be required to help ingratiate the Brazilian-born Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa, who was ruthlessly targeted by Spain trio Pepe, Sergio Ramos and Alvaro Arbeloa in a Madrid derby last season.
The 63-year-old Del Bosque declared himself “disgusted” by that behaviour, and made his feelings known to the players in question. “We have to set an example,” he said. “Being world champions demands that you are still more honourable in your behaviour.”
A sentiment which rather sums up this world champion coach.