04 September 2007
Two games, two victories... And a good image, showcasing a style that thrills the fans. Schuster talked to AS about the team’s great start to the season, the new signings, the preseason and more.
“I didn’t like the planning of the preseason, but it was done before I arrived, so I couldn’t change it. I would have never decided to play our first game after only four days’ work. Ten days after starting we faced Hannover, then Moscow, then Deportivo... I also don’t believe Real Madrid should play two days in a row in summer competitions like the Teresa Herrera and the Carranza... This will have to change.”
“I would have liked things to have worked out faster, but we were still waiting for players to arrive and some men on the squad had offers made to them, which distracted them. Speculation gave way to distraction. The arrival of the Dutch players cheered up the squad.”
“I was worried and desperate at times during the preseason because we lost many games, and I didn’t come here for that. It was good for us to start the League with the derby after losing against Sevilla in the Super Cup. This motivated some players who are very hard to motivate. Everything’s easier now.”
THE START OF THE SEASON
“I like to start strong. I don’t like going little by little. It’s good for players to have a good start to the season because it makes them believe in what they’re doing. A game like that against Villarreal helps us do our work and makes us grow more ambitious, but we still have to improve.”
“During half-time at El Madrigal Stadium we told ourselves we had to score a second goal. We should never be satisfied with a result and wait to see what happens next. Villarreal proved to be a very offensive side, but we had a rather good start to the second half. We did well in our counterattacks and the final result could have been scandalous if we had been more effective.”
“It’s not enough to focus on playing a beautiful game. We practice on positioning every day. We don’t wait to receive the ball; we look for it. Robinho, Sneijder, Raúl and Ruud are very good at this. The players are adapting very easily to this style and having someone like Sneijder on the pitch helps.”
“We can at last say we have the players we needed. Heinze has taken some weight off our shoulders. He is a very driven player and a great defender... Metzelder is also excellent. We have a balanced squad.”
“When I read in AS that Raúl said he wanted to play in the 2008 Euro, I thought to myself, ‘Luis Aragonés is going to have it tough!’ Before being Real Madrid’s coach I said Raúl should maybe change teams, but I only said this because something similar happened to me as a player. Routine hurt me badly. It happened to me at Barcelona. People also were affected by the routine of seeing me play for that team. They no longer wanted me after eight years. I think Raúl should enjoy himself now. What has he to lose? He can only gain from it. Our style is going to favour him, as it favours Ruud and Robinho. Raúl should simply focus on enjoying himself.”
“Guti is heavily influenced by the environment and players around him. He goes with the flow. His sudden mood swings remind me of myself as a player, but he is receptive... He knows how to listen.”
“He played down the right wing in the preseason as a test, but I think he is better as a striker. We have to improve on his goal-scoring capabilities, which isn’t easy. Nevertheless, I believe he will help us as a striker and as a right winger.”
“Have you seen how he saves high balls? He has no problem in aerial plays. We are moving the defence forward in order to give him more space in which to move. Keepers don’t generally like having their teammtes near them because they may hinder their exits.”
“Dudek’s specialty are penalties, that’s why I brought him out in the Carranza. I didn’t even think about the possibility of there being any free-kicks before the end of the game. Manolo Ruiz and I decided to wait until the very last minute because something was telling me that it could go wrong. In the end, we decided to bring him out and it was a bad move. We could only laugh about. I told Manolo, ‘Damn! Why didn’t we wait longer?’ If we had gone through to the penalty round and Dudek had done well there, people would now be saying that my move was a stroke of genius. I would do it again nevertheless. Dudek proved to be brilliant in the 2006 Champions League final.”
THE NEW PLAYERS
“Drenthe did well as a left back against Villarreal, but things improved when I brought out Heinze. Drenthe is Dutch, but he looks Caribbean. His joyful character explains why he and Robinho understand each other so well. They both create an excellent atmosphere in the dressing room. I tell Van Nistelrooy that he has to be a father figure for the Dutch players... He’s helping them a lot.”
“Robben is making great progress and this halt in the competition will allow him to rejoin the squad next week. He is terribly excited about playing. There is no problem with his old injury, but the mess that his signing proved to be didn’t allow him to prepare properly during the preseason with Chelsea. He has to do muscle exercises.”
SNEIJDER “We wanted Sneijder when we were planning the season on another team, but we came here and his destination therefore changed. Before signing him I talked to Leo Beenhakker, who knows him well. We found out he can make good use of his shots if he plays down the left wing.”
“Beckham was a right winger more than anything else, and Sneijder, despite the fact that he has similar touch on ball to the Englishman, can cover more ground. He was a bit nervous in his Bernabéu debut, but he has performed at an optimum level ever since. The team is grateful to him for that. It is easy for a team to adapt to a style with him on the pitch.”
THE YOUTH SYSTEM
“I would have liked to give De la Red a chance because he’s hardly played in the First Division, but there are 25 players on the squad and he had no room here, so he had to go. I don’t want people to think we are ‘killing’ the youth system because we’ve let people like Adrián and Granero go. It would have been easy to count on them, but where’s the benefit for me in having them sit on the stands for most of the season? It’s better for them to play in the First Division on some other team if they have the chance to.” CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
“We have good rivals in our group, but I believe we’ll go through to the next round. We know how tough German sides like Werder Bremmen can be, but they no longer have Klose and Frings. Lazio are a hard Italian side... Olympiakos have well-known players like Galletti and Raúl Bravo".
“I want to win the European Cup because I came close to winning it as a player in Seville against Steaua Bucharest. With Real Madrid I faced Milan in the semifinals.”
HIS COACHING STAFF
Assistant coach MANOLO RUIZ: "I met him at Xerez, where he was the goalkeeper coach. He does the dirty work. Honestly, I don’t like to be in the forefront during training sessions. I like to delegate and that the people who work with me feel the responsibility they have within the team."
Fitness expert WALTER DI SALVO:
"I’ve noticed that football has changed. If you want something now, you have to give a good explanation why. For example, Walter spent 40 minutes telling the squad what his idea of work is. He talked about injury percentages, prevention, how important it is that the substitutes exercise after matches… The players applauded him once he finished, proving that they are receptive."
"In the League, I’m sure Sevilla will be among the candidates again. So will Barcelona. I thought Valencia might as well, but it looks like they have had some problems."
"In the Champions League, I have to go with Milan. They’re the only team capable of beating Sevilla right now, just as they did in the Super Cup. They’ve spent the last two years together and it shows. Milan don’t get tired of winning titles. They’re like a good team who repeats one after the next. Liverpool don’t play very pretty football, but they’re hard, difficult, and a nasty team to play. You just have to look back to last season to see how much trouble Barcelona had."
"If Milan is a ten, Madrid is an eight right now. Sevilla is a nine. They can play with their eyes closed, we can’t yet. If I had to pick qualities of the best teams in the world, I’d go with Manchester’s verticality and Chelsea’s defence. I also love Sevilla’s aggressiveness."
"I don’t know how he must have felt. If I was him, I would have felt happy having won a title, but not so much because I think I would have deserved to continue. But I don’t know him well enough to say."
"The title worked wonders in getting rid of any anxiety, but we must continue now. I have noticed that some bad examples have stuck around, but they’re not due to Capello, who is a disciplined coach, but rather from the ‘Galacticos’ era. I’m talking about some work attitudes during the training sessions. I can also tell that young players are easily influenced by that negative attitude and become part of the problem. That’s why it’s important that other young player came in. They are eager to bite, just like me. I haven’t won anything as a coach, but I came here to do so."
PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
GERMAN NATIONAL TEAM
"I once left Barcelona without permission because I wanted to play in a friendly against Brazil. The Club didn’t let me travel because we had a match against Rayo the following day, but I just couldn’t miss that game. They finally accepted my idea of playing just 45 minutes. There was a party after the match, but I didn’t go because I had to wake up early. That’s when everything gets confusing. That night I was told I would never get called up because I didn’t go to the party. I spoke to Udo Lattek so that he would fix everything, but the phone operator confused the last name of the coach with that of a friend of mine. When all was said and done after a series of misunderstandings, I never played for Germany again."
"When I first joined Madrid, I saw it as a team that protects you. No one defended me at Barcelona. Madrid had Camacho, Gallego… The Club made it clear what my obligations were. You can learn a lot at the age of 28. It wasn’t easy. After eight years of arguing with Gallego, Beenhakker decided that we would share a room. It took us an hour to speak to one another on the first day; to see who would throw the first punch, but then we became great friends."
"I’d really like things to go the way they do in England, where you can coach the same team for team years. I would sign on with Madrid for a decade right this second, but it’s impossible in countries like Germany and Spain. We don’t have the kind of foundation or development here."