17 November 2008
Realmadrid.com / Translation by Michael J. O'Donnell
Real Madrid's Sporting Director, Pedja Mijatovic, gave a press conference on Monday 17 November at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. He talked about the team's current situation and gave Bernd Schuster a vote of confidence.
“My duty as the Club’s Sporting Director is to transmit tranquillity, serenity and calmness to our fans. The current situation is that the league and the Champions League have practically just started. The season is far from being over and this project is exciting both for the fans and me. I’m not saying this to transmit tranquillity; I’m just saying what’s been happening since we arrived at the Club.”
“Last season, we were the top-scoring team and the least scored upon side in La Liga, and we won the title with a considerable cushion over the runners-up. I sometimes wonder what would have become of us at this stage had we had a season similar to other teams’; our greatest rival FC Barcelona comes to mind. I think Real Madrid has one of the best squads in Europe. That’s my opinion. And I also think this team is capable of reacting and making us all very happy.”
“I’m positive and optimistic. These are probably the hardest moments we have gone through since we arrived at the Club. I’ve always had faith in what we’ve done so far. Our work here has been very important. We’ve always believed this team can make us very happy and I think we can be satisfied 28 months later because we’ve achieved very important results. This has just begun. There have only been eleven games in the league so far this year and we’ve won seven, drawn two and lost two. These are figures worthy of a champion team. We must have faith in our players because they are capable of improving and of achieving the goals we set ourselves for this campaign.”
“Real Madrid is the greatest club there is and it is incredibly demanding. I’ve experienced this as a player and I know the fans aren’t happy with our King’s Cup elimination in the hands of a Second Division B side. If I didn’t have any faith in our players I would say so, but I do and I am sure they can make us very happy.”
“Both the squad and the coaching staff will probably read tomorrow what I’m saying tonight, so I want to say to them that both myself and the organisation that backs me have faith in them. We just have to work hard, make greater efforts and improve on everything. I don’t think we’ll have any more problems if we do this.”
Could you please clarify what happened after the match in Valladolid?
The coach has the right to make his own plans. Nobody, not even I, can interfere. He plans the training sessions, the days the squad has to rest and the schedules. It simply isn’t true that I forced Schuster to change his plans. That’s what he had arranged and he told the players. He decided there would be a volunteer session the following day and some players wished to attend. It was voluntary, so everyone is free to make his own decisions on the matter.
How much credit has Bernd Schuster got left with you?
It is still the same it was at the start of the season. We had to make a decision regarding Capello after winning the title two seasons ago because we noticed things we didn’t like in his last few months. Time proved we made the right decision by winning the title again in the last campaign. We have much confidence in Schuster. He had a great season last year and we are very happy with him. The problem is that we aren’t earning good results right now and the press has started to talk. But we shouldn’t be hasty in the current situation because we could make mistakes. There are examples of this happening both in Spain and elsewhere. We will analyse the season when it’s over and we’ll see what has to be done. But the only thing we can do only eleven games into the season is to send a message of tranquillity, serenity and calmness.
Is it true that the Club has been studying Schuster’s severance?
I was very surprised when I read about that this morning because it just isn’t true. We haven’t discussed it at all and we haven’t met with him. We did have meetings with him and the players last week from which we drew very positive conclusions. We were unlucky to lose in Valladolid right after having these meetings, but we have to get used to all the things that are being said in the press. It is very painful to lose after meetings of this nature. The only thing we can do is work hard and ask the fans to support the team, which is made up by professionals. I want to use this chance to ask for the fans’ support because our next match will be very important and it will be followed by a Champions League clash. We shouldn’t get nervous. It’s normal for them to be disappointed because of the unexpected defeats, but we just have to think about winning our next games.
Can you guarantee Schuster will stay on as coach if the team loses on Saturday?
I remember the tough time we had during our first campaign. My way of thinking and my working philosophy don’t allow me to think about what may happen if we lose. I would analyse it and make pertinent decisions if it happened, but until then it doesn’t cross my mind because I don’t think we are going to lose our next games.
Is Schuster still on the job because you have faith in him or because you don’t want the fans to blame those of you in the Presidential Balcony for the team’s mistakes?
I’m not thinking about dismissing the coach or looking for replacements. We have to value the job the coaching staff did last year. We have faith in them and in the work they are currently doing. We also have faith in our players, who will respond to our demands and those of the fans. But we are not going to make any decisions to cover up other issues. This is a decision made by myself and my team and I guarantee you we are capable of making an important decision if needed. The Sporting Directorship of the Club has had to make difficult decisions these last two years and it will continue to do so whenever it deems it necessary, but never hastily.
Do you think Schuster wants to carry on?
Absolutely. We will support him to the end. The situation isn’t as dramatic as the media has made it appear.
Could you please analyse the planning you did this summer?
We’ve talked about it many times, but I’ll go over it again. We wanted to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, but we couldn’t because Manchester United didn’t want to let go of him. We also tried to sign other players, but couldn’t for the same reasons. We sealed the squad with 24 players, which guarantees the team’s strength throughout the season, but nobody expected the things that have recently happened, like Ruud van Nistelrooy’s injury. That didn’t fit in our plans. We also didn’t expect what happened to Rubén de la Red in Irún. They won’t be with us for at least five weeks and that forces us to look at the winter transfer window, but we know there isn’t much to choose from. This Club’s demands are strong and we have to get someone for the future. It will be difficult, but we want to try. We will do our best to sign one or two players.
People think you and Schuster don’t get along...
This has been an issue for quite some time and I’ve said countless times that we do get along very well. We talk often. What he said this summer seemed to indicate our relationship doesn’t flow well, but that isn’t true. We talked after he said those things and he told me he didn’t men that. Our relationship is very good.
What positions will you look to cover during the winter transfer window?
We will try to strengthen our midfield and our attack. We don’t know if we want a striker, a second striker or an attacking midfielder yet, but what we all want is a player that makes us all happy. We are working on it, but it is hard to find someone.
Did the meetings last week help determine Raúl as one of the problems on the team?
Raúl has never been and will never be a problem for this team. He is a magnificent football player, a great captain, an idol for every player on the squad and he was a very important man for us last year. He has also had a good start this season. People always attack leading figures on a team when there’s trouble. Young and recently arrived players are never a target. Raúl is calm and we have faith in him. He is the opposite of being a problem.
Are there good coaches in the market to replace Schuster?
I’m sure there are, but we haven’t thought about it. This isn’t to say we won’t look into it in the future, but we’ll regard the matter whenever decisions have to be made.
Why do people think you don’t have faith in him?
It’s difficult to make everyone happy. I know there are several fans who never liked how I used to play. These things always happen with football professionals. The truth is we haven’t lost faith in Bernd Schuster.
Now that Ruud is injured some fans may think you didn’t plan well ahead of time this summer...
We tried to sign Ronaldo and Villa this summer, but it didn’t work out. Ruud’s injury now forces us to sign a new striker, but I think our planning has always been good. Three titles prove this.
Do you think the squad also has faith in Schuster?
Last week’s meeting between them was very positive and it helped clarify many things. Losing in Valladolid was just unlucky. The defeat unfortunately didn’t confirm how positive the meeting really was, but we think the team will earn good results in the following games. There is no crisis or lack of faith in the coach. We should have faith in the team, the players and the coach. We have to send out positive vibes.