DURBAN: Vicente Del Bosque may lack the unpredictability and colorfulness of Luis Aragones, his predecessor as Spanish coach, but to the players he brings a calmness and authority which are imperative when things are not going smoothly.
However, the 59-year-old, who casts a lugubrious looking figure on the bench, rejects the notion that he is simply a father figure to a group of players who won the European title under Aragones and are within touching distance of adding the World Cup to it.
"To be a father figure is not sufficient in order to do a good job," said a clearly agitated del Bosque at the 2009 Confederations Cup where Spain failed to win the trophy losing to the United States in the semi-finals.
"You have to have other qualities. I have enough experience in order to earn the respect of my players."
This he has in spades as the out of form Fernando Torres attested to AFP.
"He (del Bosque) is a very good coach, of course," said the Liverpool star, who scored Spain’s winner in the 1-0 win over Germany in the Euro 2008 final.
"He coached Real Madrid for years, with the biggest stars in the world at that time, and the best players. He knows exactly how to deal with players."
Spain’s rampaging right back Sergi Ramos also professes a great respect for Del Bosque.
"We love his philosophy," said Ramos.
"He is a great coach, he is very refined psychologically as well, and very interested in the players’ welfare."
That is not to say that del Bosque – who devoted most of his footballing career to Real Madrid making over 300 appearances for them as a defensive midfielder and winning 18 caps – shies away from letting his players know when he is dissatisfied with them as he did after the opening matches at the World Cup finals.
Del Bosque was said to be ‘angry’ after the opening 1-0 defeat by Switzerland, then ‘not at all happy’ in the manner they beat Honduras 2-0 in their second match.
He says, though, that is his way of preventing the players from resting too much on the laurels of their Euro 2008 victory.
"Human relations are fundamental," he said.
"My task is to ask the players for daily efforts.
But it is not a question of imposing something for the sake of it or just to make it a show of strength that I am the one in command."
This trademark of having good relations with the players served Del Bosque well during his four years in charge of Real from 1999-2003 where he had especially strong relations with Guti, who he had known since he was a child.
But it also had a negative effect as he was sneered at for the manner in which Real icons Fernando Hierro and Raul appeared to wield excessive influence over him, criticism that he rejected.
That type of balanced regime certainly paid off as with his trusty homegrown Real players aligned with the galacticos such as Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane they collected two Champions League trophies and two league titles.
However, even the affable del Bosque’s principles were tested to the limit in the manner of his summary dismissal from the Real post by club president Florentino Perez a day after he landed them the 2003 league title.
Especially hurtful was the manner in which Perez explained his sacking because a man who had served the club for 35 years apparently did not ‘fit the image of Real…’.
"Me also I have my moodswings; sometimes I can’t contain myself and I lose my sangfroid, even if I always try to keep a certain balance," said del Bosque.
Typically, though, of his character he refused to react to the barbed criticisms aimed in his direction by Aragones following the 1-0 defeat by the Swiss.
"I will never say anything against my predecessor as coach because there is not a Spain of Luis nor is there a Spain of Del Bosque, there is just one Spain."