"Full-time coach." José Mourinho (Setúbal, 1963), does not hesitate when the moment comes. Really, he does not hesitate at all. The Real Madrid coach, who participates in the Elite Club Coaches Forum organised by UEFA, spoke about his team with the Spanish newspaper As while in Nyon. Real Madrid’s Champions League group does not worry his team and he says that they have developed "a hugely competitive spirit" that helps him feel relaxed. Kaká, Essien and Modric were players mentioned by name during the interview with the sports newspaper.
How will clubs like Madrid or Barcelona, whose ownership is split between thousands of share-holders, keep fighting against the advances of teams sponsored by Russian or Arab millionaires willing to put forward limitless amounts of money? Can they keep their stars?
Real Madrid, Barça, Bayern ... are clubs that have a unique capital, that is their historical capital. This cannot be bought. The titles, European Cups, the history, the story, the fans ... these things cannot be bought. The best players want to be with these teams, these three I mentioned and a few others that have their cabinets full of almost hundreds of trophies. It still plays a role in players’ decisions. Then you have to take into account that the financial fair play rule is coming in soon. Platini says he will apply this to the letter. They will impose restrictions and it will be difficult for clubs that are not well structured, even if they do have stack of cash. Logically, from Real Madrid’s point of view, my club and the club I know about, the structure is in place for this, and we’re ready for to enter into the new stage. Real Madrid has the potential and the history to keep the best, players like Cristiano, Casillas, Benzema, Higuaín... in short, all of our squad. Barça too. But the clubs that are living exclusively on investment from their owners will not have it so easy, because they will encounter difficulties due to their lack of structure as well as their lack of history. So the financial fair play rule will be a good thing for football.
In all elite clubs there are three types of players: the 'top-ten' in the world, the mid-range and the lower end. Not every team can have 11 players from the top end, but maybe they can have the mid-range players. A structured club like Madrid or Barça has to compete with the Russians and the sheikhs for these players. There is the real problem isn’t it?
It can be, yes. I do not know. Right now the market is changing a lot. It is contracting. But for example, this week in Russian football, Zenit have signed Hulk and Witsel for one hundred million euros. They paid cash to two historic clubs from Portuguese and continental football, Porto and Benfica. They are players that we could see with top Champions League teams in the not-too-distant future, but they have ended up in Russia. Money is still important for football players, but mainly for the mid-range players. A player who earns five million euros a year is not going to go if offered five and a half. But, a person earning twelve thousand euros per year who gets offered forty thousand is certainly going to change company. It is logical, because it is life changing. But to continue talking about the amounts, with what the big stars earn it is not like this. What happened with Hulk and Witsel, two of the best players in the Portuguese league, will be repeated within the next few years. But to get a big star to leave a historic, title-winning club will not be as easy. It's a new reality to which we have to adapt.
Your Champions League group is made up of four champions. Can you give us a quick review of the other teams: City, Dortmund and Ajax?
Sí, sí. Es verdad. Y no sólo son cuatro Yes, yes. It's true. And not only are there four league champions, but three out of the four of us in the group are champions of the top three of leagues in Europe: La Liga League, the Bundesliga and the Premier League. I think that Italian football is suffering at the moment and only Juventus could only keep up with the teams that are in Real Madrid’s group. The French league is getting better, but has not yet reached that level. It is a very tough group of course. Completing the group is Ajax, who are in perpetual state of rebuilding but always offer interesting new players, people who want to make a name for themselves and will put up a fight. Ajax also have titles and wear them on their shirt although they’ll be defending it with some young players.de Liga, sino que de los cuatro que estamos en el grupo tres somos campeones de las tres primeras de Europa: la Liga, la Bundesliga y la Premier. Porque me parece que el Calcio está sufriendo, que sólo la Juventus podría mantener el paso de los equipos que hay en el grupo del Madrid. Francia está creciendo, pero aún no llega a ese nivel. Es un grupo durísimo, desde luego. Y para cerrar el grupo está el Ajax, que está en permanente reconstrucción pero que siempre ofrece jugadores nuevos e interesantes, gente que quiere hacerse un nombre y que dará guerra. El Ajax además tiene títulos y los lleva en su camiseta aunque la defiendan futbolistas jóvenes.
Last week, in Montecarlo, the general opinion amongst the press was that Real Madrid’s Champions League group is the group of death. Rudd Gullit succinctly put it that: 'You cannot make any slip ups in that group, not even the slightest error'. Do you agree?
I totally agree with Gullit. The difference between our group and the rest is that Real Madrid cannot afford to be sloppy. Neither can our rivals: City, Dortmund and Ajax. In addition, another issue to consider: the two teams that go through from our group will not reach knockout stage of the Champions League in the same state as the 14 that qualify from the other seven groups. Let me explain. We’ll have to go at full pace from the first minute in all of our group stage matches. With maximum intensity, concentration, and putting the opposition under pressure. To get through to the round of 16 will take a lot physical and mental effort. The others will get through feeling fresher, without cards, without suspensions, controlling the players’ pitch time, making rotations ... many advantages that Real Madrid, Manchester City, Dortmund and Ajax will not have. We’ll reach the quarters with a huge cumulative effort, probably with cards, with a lot of minutes played at high intensity, and physically and mentally tired.
The group stage will not be a walk in the park, right?
It’s not going to be easy. But knowing my team, my players, also I have to be honest and say that intense matches are matches that I find, rather, we find, easier to prepare for than others. I am reassured in the knowledge that Real Madrid have developed a hugely competitive spirit. There is no need to say anything else about the team. They know they have to be on top of their game and give everything in the Champions League and that, whether they play good, better or normal matches they have to take on the team that is in front of them. We have to be ahead from the first minute of the first match against Manchester City at the Bernabéu.
Are Manchester City the main team to beat?
Well, I'm not so sure. Dortmund are the German champions, they are a finely tuned team full of internationals, lots Germans and the two best Polish players. They are gaining Champions League experience, have an impressive stadium and fans that support them all the way. With Ajax, you never know. They could cause an upset. With there being no margin for error ... but yes, the Manchester City are a strong team because of their money, their players, their world-class players. City are a team brought together to win the Champions League, brought together with that intention. The investment that they are making year after year has the aim of lifting the European Cup. It's going to be tough. Tough for Real Madrid ... tough for them because Real Madrid are Real Madrid.
Barcelona have had to bend their knee to Real Madrid twice in the last six months. Has a change in the cycle started?
It’s not for me to say. What is clear is that we have broken Barcelona’s winning run, after the lifted one title after another. Now the balance has shifted and we'll see how far we can ride the wave. In any case, you have to be honest: we are talking about Real Madrid and Barcelona, two very good teams, two great teams. If you took any other team in the world and put them in La Liga they would not finish either first or second. And if I chose Real Madrid it is precisely for this. Because it's hard to be here. If you go to another championship it would be easier to win. With any direct competition other than Barça over a full championship everything would be easier. I would also say that Real Madrid did what we did last season partly because of Barcelona setting the bar so high. To become champions we had to take it to a new level, and that's why winning the league last season makes me so proud. But this wave of success has not finished. What has finished is Barcelona’s victorious run. But the cycle of the high quality of these two teams is not over. The wave will keep going. Football fans, not only in Spain, all around the world, will continue to enjoy matches between Real Madrid and Barça. Real Madrid-Barça matches are a blessing for football, for the fans. I have no numbers, but I’m sure that the last Spanish Super Cup had a bigger global television audience than many of last year’s Champions League matches.
|Chándal y ropa de entreno en la tienda del Real Madrid para España|
|Chándal y ropa de entreno en la tienda del Real Madrid Internacional|