Couldn't find anywhere for this so here it is.
The World Cup winner talks about whether Spain’s tiki-taka tag annoys him, if David de Gea can become as good as Iker Casillas … and why managers don’t have to shout to win trophies
By Sid Lowe
@sidloweRight, let’s get straight to the point: Laurie Cunningham or Steve McManaman?
Hehehe! Joder [bloody hell], why do we have to choose one? I was very happy with Macca. He was a caballero, a gentleman, a stupendous guy; he always had a smile, he never complained, he was great, a leader. He related to everyone very well; he united people. He had a bad time [towards the end] with achilles pain, but every day he trained with the same attitude. He was exemplary ... and a good footballer too, very good. A fantastic player in every sense. I saw him in Mallorca recently and it was lovely.You coached McManaman, you played with Cunningham …
Laurie was more inconsistent. You think of him: ‘Remember Brussels? The Camp Nou?’Where he was given a standing ovation – by Barcelona fans …
Exactly, but it was moments, rather than consistently. Comparing them is impossible: one was an incredible athlete, that was Laurie: strong, fast, powerful, talented, he could sprint, he could leap, he had it all. The other, Macca, made the most of his play, his intelligence, his quality. He wasn’t physically remarkable whereas [Laurie] was a superdotado [extremely gifted]. What comes to mind when you say: “English football”?
There is no “English” football any more, I don’t think: no authentic English style.Why not?
Because of the mix of different styles, the arrival of players from abroad makes it impossible to maintain an “English football”. I imagine there are still some idiosyncrasies at English clubs, teams that are very English, but on the pitch it’s difficult to guess where teams are from. The purity of each [national] style has been lost. I don’t think there’s much difference between any countries. Maybe I’m missing something but even with the national side England has started to look like other sides on the continent.Whenever England are knocked out of a tournament, we talk about root and branch reform, about following other models: Clairefontaine, Spain, now Germany …
Revolution after revolution, after revolution. You have to be yourself. But you can’t operate in a bubble, looking inwards. It can’t be endogámico [endogamy, inbreeding]. You have to be open, take on board what other countries are doing. But football has fashions too and what marks those tendencies, those fashions, is the team that wins. If the Germans win, then the German way must be best; if we win, Spain must have the answer; or France [in 1998]. English football has a lot of very good things and must be itself but that doesn’t mean it can’t modernise or evolve.What is the Spanish model? Does the tiki-taka tag annoy you?
It’s a simplification. If you had to put a label on Spain you wouldn’t call us defensive, if you say tiki-taka it implies having the ball, playing attacking football, but we’ve been very defensive too. We’ve been champions scoring very few and conceding very few and we’re still in that dynamic. People don’t call us defensive, and yet …So? What is the model? What are the causes of Spain’s success?
I like to remind people that we have our own characteristics but we are not really any different to France or Germany or the other countries around us. But in the past we always had this complex and now that doesn’t exist. The proof of that are the players who’ve gone abroad and proven to be as good as anyone else. Also, we’ve done things the right way: there’s a good structure, an increase in elite facilities, a very good coaching setup, even the [footballing] culture of the general public has improved.
We’ve worked on the technical side of our game; that’s become the foundation. It used to be the fashion to concentrate on the physical side of the game: physical, physical. But everything’s more integrated now. Watch any session at any team and you no longer see physical work, then technical [work], then tactical [work]. It’s all linked now. There was also a kind of tactical fever, as if tactics were everything. Fortunately, I think we have found a balance now. We’ve also had a lot of luck along the way; we can’t ignore that. I think we were predestined to become world champions.Predestined? Really? Was there a moment you knew you would win?
No, but when you look back and you see what happened ... it was coming, it was predestined. It was meant to be. Destiny.I’m personally not too interested in the Ballon d’Or
Me neither.… but in 2010 people said that a Spaniard should have won it. The question, though, was: which Spaniard? There wasn’t one, single standout star; instead there were four or five candidates. Is that the best definition of Spain’s approach?
That was a good moment for a world champion [with Spain] to win the award, as a representative of the team, [but] the thing to be proudest of was that we were a team.Forgive the rather desperate attempt to claim credit but could Spain have won the World Cup without England, without the opportunities and experiences the Premier League afforded? Spain is an exporter of talent. Does that help?
We’re exporters of talented players, yes, but we also have the two best players in the world in our league, here in Spain. We are living the Ronaldo and Messi era.When you think about Messi arriving in Spain aged 13 do you think: “Damn, we should have nationalised him”?
There was an attempt to do so but he decided to stick with the country of his birth; he remained steadfast. That’s a phenomenon that we cannot turn our back on or pretend doesn’t exist. We don’t know where the next Messi or the next Ronaldo is going to come from: it could be one of those who arrives here from another country looking to make a better life.So, anyway, did having players in England help
It helped. It’s been good for us that players went abroad to play, without doubt; that’s one of the most important factors. It opened our minds, a major advance, I have no doubt about that. When you have Cesc Fàbregas aged 19 and he’s Arsenal captain, that’s good for us. That said, sometimes I complain that I would like to base the squad on one or two clubs and [our players] are more dispersed now: some at Arsenal, Manchester City, United, Chelsea … Nearly all the countries who’ve won international tournaments have done so basing themselves on one particular club side, be that Bayern Munich or Juventus or whoever ...Or Barcelona.
Yes, although I don’t want to leave Madrid out because we had four or five from Madrid and although we had seven or eight from Barcelona we didn’t play like them, but with two deep midfielders together: Busquets and Alonso were questioned but were fundamental. We also had five players from Liverpool at one point, for example: Reina, Arbeloa, Xabi, Torres, Luis García. A block is useful but now it’s more dispersed. That said, we’ve got four from Chelsea: Costa, Cesc, Azpilicueta, Pedro. You can take things from that. We have very few days, so it makes sense. It’s not that you copy what players do at club level, it’s that you would be stupid not to.So when Pedro joined Chelsea did you immediately think: “Ah, Pedro, Cesc, Costa ... this could be handy”
Hombre [man], the first thing you think is that he’s going to have more minutes. He [had] also had that at Barcelona. And yet then … we’ve reached a moment when, I wouldn’t call it the tyranny of the big [players] but … it seems that you can’t take the very, very, very best players off. And if the coach does, joder, it’s: ‘madre mía!’Does that sadden you?
Hombre, I don’t like it. It’s right that [players like] Messi or Ronaldo have that extreme ambition, as it’s what makes them great. But there has to be room for generosity too. There are other guys on the bench, especially when it’s 4-0 or 5-0. At times [like that], what reason is there for them not be substituted?Pedro follows a familiar path. There have been 100 Spaniards in the Premier League era. Only a third of players are English. Is that a problem for Roy Hodgson
It’s a problem here too. The other day in the Atlético starting XI, there were two [Spaniards]; Madrid played with just three ... There are many foreign players but I shouldn’t complain too much because it’s the clubs’ policy and they decide, not me – and, look, they have to have the best players, and the best players don’t necessarily get born in the Barrio del Pilar or Chamartín, they can have been born anywhere.Do clubs lose their identity, though?
I don’t think so. Kubala was not born in Las Ramblas, Gento was born in Guarnizo rather than Madrid, Puskas marked Madrid’s history and defined them and he was Hungarian. I don’t think players need to be born in the city. But it’s true that clubs like Madrid, Barcelona, Atlético Madrid, Villarreal, Sevilla work so well with their youth systems and have such talent that they can and should use that. I’m not saying it should be one-11 but maybe their 15, 16, 17. If you’ve got someone who’s going to start five or 10 games a year, why not someone from the youth system? That makes perfect sense; it’s obligatory. Clubs decide, not me, but of course it makes the job more difficult for us [when there are fewer Spanish players].But you still have around two-thirds Spaniards in La Liga, plus the exports. Seven of your 23 play in England. Héctor Bellerín is not in this squad. Can he still make it?
There are eight months ahead of us. We shouldn’t’ be giving out names just yet. There’s time to evaluate a lot of players and decide what we will do.Has Diego Costa got the most difficult job in football? Striker for Spain sometimes seems to be a thankless task. He’s only scored one goal for Spain
Costa isn’t a problem for us.But is it difficult for him to adapt? Is he the wrong type of forward for Spain?
No. Our midfield is good on the ball, with players whose touch is good, so we need forwards who create space, who move, who commit defenders, occupy them, and Diego does that. How can Costa be harmful for us? We have him so he can get in behind, run channels, pull wide. We’ve not had much luck with him but there’s nothing that goes against our style. Now we’re choosing between him, Morata and Paco Alcácer; in principle those are the three for the future.Can David de Gea be as good as Iker Casillas?
He has the ability to emulate him, yes. We forget sometimes that he has spent four or five seasons as Manchester United’s goalkeeper. And if you look at the other keepers they’ve had, that’s la leche [the business]. This is the goal defended by Schmeichel, Van der Sar, Barthez: three great goalkeepers. And then along comes this kid and, bit by bit, establishes himself. But look, it’s very difficult to do what Iker has done, in terms of quality and quantity.You’re sometimes accused of being too soft, maybe even not competitive enough. Do you ever get angry? There was a temptation to try to wind you up today, just to see if it could be done
Hahaha! If you come here to our home as my guests, how can I get angry with you? Look, I don’t like things done badly, just like anyone. But you have to think about who you’re addressing. You can criticise one player and he’ll accept it well but with another it might be better to [suggest changes], without making it a war or an imposition, so they see it for themselves. Anyway, footballers absolutely know perfectly well when they aren’t doing something right.
And when you hear people say: ‘This coach is a winner’ because he shouts a lot, when that’s how he’s defined, it’s ridiculous. A lie. It gets repeated over and over and so everyone says: ‘Ah this coach is a winner’. Joder, I don’t know any coach, anyone in the world, who likes to lose. I’m not claiming to be an example [but] I believe that a coach should make an effort to know how to win and how to lose, to behave. I wouldn’t like to see myself making a fool of myself on the touchline. But there are coaches that do it.Some say that helps the team …
It’s theatrical; a dramatic, outward expression of something that has no real value: it doesn’t work. People say: ‘Look how passionate he is, how emotionally involved he is in the game, how he lives it!’ But who really believes that every other coach isn’t going through those same emotions? Really? It’s impossible not to with the tension, the state of your nerves. ‘Ah, but he transmits so much energy.’ Hahaha! Joder tío, the real transmission of energy to your players is in the way you have prepared them for the game, your knowledge, the work.Tell us about your work. What do you do every day? You get the squad only every two months but are you always thinking about the 23?
23? No. More like 43. Of course. We come here every morning; we don’t just turn up on the eve of a squad get-together. We work as if this were a club and it’s impossible not to spend the whole day thinking about football. Impossible. [Even] at home of an afternoon I’m worried about something to do with the Spain team or the federation. You think about the development of every player, the form they’re in. But often it’s about more than form: you can’t be forever calling up players just because they played well three days before. You have to have a sense of perspective, a criteria. We have to build a team.Are you the proof that you never know when your moment may arrive? You can’t have imagined all this when you were at Besiktas?
No, no, no, no, no, no. Hombre, and if I go back further, I never thought about dedicating myself to [this] professional world at all. I thought I would develop young players. I never had any ambition to dedicate my life to being a manager. I never ever tried. I only took over the first team [at Real Madrid] because the club, at a certain time and in a certain set of circumstances, needed me to. My objective was never this.There’s destiny again. It’s gone rather well, then. So what will you do after the Spain job?
Live as well as I can.You won’t go back to your roots and work in youth football?
No, no, no, no.Just hang about being the Marquis?
Hahahaha. Joder. Live, which is no bad thing. Be with my family. But I’ll always be close to football.http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/nov/10/vicente-del-bosque-spain-english-football-style-ronaldo-messi?CMP=share_btn_tw