The Spanish press believe Luis Aragonés's national team have "hit rock bottom" after losing their second UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifier 3-2 in Northern Ireland last night.
Football daily Marca made that claim, while other newspapers have been harking back to the 3-2 defeat by Cyprus which cost Javier Clemente his job almost eight years ago. With many still disappointed at Spain's early FIFA World Cup elimination, even Xavi Hernández scoring Spain's 1,000th international goal in Belfast has been overshadowed. El Mundo Deportivo's sarcastic reflection was: "3-2: 1,001 ridiculous goals."
Diario AS piled on more misery with the headline: "Reds make us blush." Having christened the Spain team that won the world basketball championship in Japan on Sunday the Golden Boys, the newspaper dubbed Aragonés's misfiring side the Tin Men. In the face of such an onslaught, Aragonés has taken full responsibility for the reverse. "I am to blame for what has happened, but I'm not going to resign," he said. "Measures will be taken and if I have to leave then I will. But I'm happy with my job and I am as excited about it as ever."
Spanish Football Federation president Ángel María Villar Llona stood by his coach, saying: "We don't want him to resign. He has all our support and we are convinced we will qualify for EURO 2008. We are very happy with the work Aragonés has done." El Mundo Deportivo countered: "To lose in Belfast is tough. To do so when we were twice in the lead, more so. It is beginning to look like we must admit that the World Cup men are a disaster."
One of those men, Raúl González, summed up the prevailing mood: "I've been playing for the national team for ten years and we've never been a great team. We're a good team that aspires to greatness but have never done ourselves justice when it mattered." A trip to Group F leaders Sweden on 7 October will give Spain a perfect opportunity to put that right.
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