Real Madrid sack Del Bosque

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The Independent Football

Real Madrid have decided not to offer coach Vicente del Bosque a new contract, even though he led the club to the Spanish League title on Sunday.

Real secured their 29th La Liga title with a 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao at the Bernabeu, but that was not enough to persuade the Madrid board to keep on the 52-year-old. According to sources in Spain, the Manchester United assistant coach, Carlos Quieroz, and the Porto manager, Jose Mourinho, are the two leading candidates to take his place.

The decision, which comes only six days after England's captain, David Beckham, completed his £25m move from Old Trafford, will come as a surprise to the Madrid players, with whom Del Bosque is extremely popular. It was noticeable how they all went to congratulate him on the pitch after Sunday's win, which not only confirmed their status as the team to beat in Spain but also added to the coach's list of personal achievements.

Del Bosque, who took over at the Bernabeu after John Toshack was sacked, has won two Champions' League trophies with Real in addition to the league title in 2001 and this year.

Real have also released their captain, Fernando Hierro, the 35-year-old defender ending a 14-season spell at the club.

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