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The virtual unknown

Moreno was presented on Wednesday.
Moreno was presented on Wednesday. / EFE
  • A LOOK AT LA LIGA

  • Robert Moreno has seemingly come from nowhere to be named Luis Enrique's replacement as national team coach

Well, we know he's not a rap star but that's about all we really know about Robert Moreno, or 'Bobby Brown' as an online translator will tell you - the new Spain head coach.

Google went into overdrive on Wednesday when it was announced that Luis Enrique decided he could no longer commit to the national team job and his assistant would be promoted from stand-in to the main man.

Very little information can be found on this man of mystery on either English or Spanish Wikipedia. He never played the game professionally, he's never been a lead coach, his profile is low and he's a virtual unknown.

The above statements don't exactly sell him. The case for stepping up from lieutenant to general is the fact that he's been at the side of Luis Enrique at Celta, Roma and then Barcelona. Luis Enrique, the former football star, was regarded as the motivational front-man at the Nou Camp while Moreno provided the intelligence and attention to detail.

Together they won La Liga twice, the Copa del Rey three times and were crowned Champions of Europe in 2015. Alongside every great manager is usually a number two who does the donkey work. Think Brian Clough and Peter Taylor, Bill Shankly with the famous Liverpool boot room and Alex Ferguson who leant heavily on Steve McClaren at Manchester United.

Moreno's path isn't unlike that of the man who rose from Oxford United assistant to England's number one. McClaren's football career was short-lived and he threw himself into the nuances of coaching, strategy and the miniscule elements of the game. He progressed from someone introduced by the Old Trafford chairman as 'Steve McClaridge' to the top job in the national game. Unfortunately, the Yorkshireman's promising career suffered with the English media's infatuation with lampooning the national coach.

Moreno will be given a fairer ride by the Spanish press. The country needs some stability in a position where four men have led the team in twelve months. Julen Lopetegui was relieved of his duties on the eve of the World Cup when it was revealed he was going to break his contract to join Real Madrid after the tournament. Fernando Hierro was the emergency stand-in but wasn't considered for the role after the tournament in Russia.

It should be noted that neither Lopetegui nor Hierro lost a game in 90 minutes; Spain went out of the World Cup on penalties. Luis Enrique's Spain did lose the last two games in the Nations League but it was partly accepted as it was part of the long-term project. His tenure brought eight wins in ten matches.

Now Moreno must continue the project. He's overseen the last three games in the European Championship qualifiers and Spain have won them all. He's very much the modern manager, regarded as a student of the game. He wrote a book on tactical analysis for which Luis Enrique wrote the foreword: "He's a voracious trainer, unsatisfied by nature with an amazing ability to analyse problems and find solutions. Add that to his capacity to inexhaustible work."

With that reference he was always worth a punt. It may also explain who was doing all the scouting when Spain called up over fifty players in a twelve-month period for national service.

Moreno is realising a lifetime's ambition; he started coaching in his teens. In his press conference he revealed: "I think I have the experience. I've been with Luis for nine years, in top-level locker rooms, training the best in the world. I've been training since I was 14 years old."

His association with the Spanish FA goes back to 2003, he dealt with the biggest egos in the world on the Camp Nou training pitch and continued his education as the number two at Celta in between his spells as Luis Enrique's confidant.

So, Moreno is the popular choice to see Spain through to the finals of the 2020 Euros. He'll be given backing by the FA, have the ear of his players, the support of the fans and advice from those who have taken on a similar role...

Don't ever contemplate using a brolly, whatever the storm brings!