Fernando Hierro says he aims to change as little as possible as he prepares his team for Friday’s World Cup opener against Portugal in Sochi.
Hierro was sensationally appointed Spain coach on the eve of the tournament, after previous boss Julen Lopetegui was fired on Wednesday morning by Spanish federation president Luis Rubiales, who was angered by Real Madrid announcing Lopetegui as their new coach on Tuesday afternoon.
The most dramatic 24 hours in Spanish football has divided opinion among many fans and pundits, and even reportedly among La Roja’s squad in Russia for the tournament.
But Hierro, a former Madrid and Spain captain, avoided getting into the rights and wrongs of how he has ended up in the job in such dramatic fashion and told his presentation news conference that he was only interested in looking forward and maintaining the good work which had been done to this point.
“You cannot touch in two days what has been done in many years of work,” said Hierro, who previously served as Spain’s sporting director. “We know the first game is close, and we must be intelligent and stick to what was being done before. There’s not time to change anything anyway.
“They are fantastic players and with Julen they have been preparing this game for months. We know we must compete — three games to continue in the World Cup. Neither Portugal, nor Iran, nor Morocco will gift us anything.”
Asked if he felt betrayed by his former teammate and colleague Lopetegui, Hierro said there was no point in going over what had just happened when the tournament was right on top of them.
“The president has given his judgement on what happened, and we must be positive,” he said. “Our opinions about what has happened are worth nothing now, we must turn the page, think about what we represent, Spanish football. I have a very clear conscience, and from there we take on the challenge we have in front of us.
“I spoke with [Lopetegui], he called me now to say goodbye. We must change the chip now, forget what has happened.
“Tonight we train, tomorrow we fly to Sochi and tomorrow train in the stadium there. Our objective is to fight for a World Cup, we have been two years preparing for this. We must show maturity in this moment. It is not about understanding what has happened, but dealing with the reality.”
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