New Spain coach Enrique promises evolution – and surprises

first_imgSpain’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.”last_img read more

Craig Levein says Hearts can maintain Premiership top spot

first_img“We have lost Christophe (Berra), which obviously is a big blow. I would much rather have him available because his experience could be vital. “Hopefully we will get him back in December ready for the second half of the season.“I think we need to keep everybody fit, our best players in particular, and hopefully we can keep churning out results.”Levein believes there are two key differences in this season’s squad compared with the Hearts side that finished sixth in the Premiership last term. Craig Levein sees no reason why Hearts can’t remain top of the table well into the season.His side sit five points clear at the top of the Premiership after making a 100 per cent start and are on a run of eight wins in a row in all competitions.Hearts will look to keep the momentum going on Saturday against Livingston and Levein is eyeing a long stay at the summit. Asked if he could see his side being there at Easter, the manager of the month for August said: “I don’t see why not. He said: “We have a stronger squad, which keeps players on their toes.“When they look over at the bench, they know they need to do more or better to stay in the team. That’s a good weapon for a manager to have.“The other thing is I am certain this group of players is as hungry a team as I’ve worked with, which brings the intensity every day in training and in matches that you need to be successful.“You look through our squad and see young, hungry, ambitious players and also some senior pros who have been through just about everything football could throw at you, and their attitude is just as good as when they first stepped on the training ground as a teenager.“When I played here, we had those two things, and any good side I have had as a manager over the years has had those things.”With both Rangers and Celtic having European ties to contend with, the Hearts boss, who hasn’t decided whether he will be in the dugout on Saturday following recent health problems, believes fixture congestion could hand his side an advantage.He said: “There’s no doubt it does split your focus a bit when you’ve got a league game then an important European tie. “I hope they play each other in the final, I hope that’s how long they’re in it.”Of the challenge of Livingston, he added: “We have a tough game against Livingston who have won their last three matches. “I think that’s a warning in itself that we cannot afford to go into that match other than being 100 per cent focused on our jobs.”last_img read more