REAL MADRID | RAUL
Raúl: "11 coaches in 13 years is too many for Madrid"
Real Madrid's legendary No. 7 Raúl Gonzalez Blanco speaks to AS in New York and gives his view on Real Madrid, Pogba and his plan to return one day to the Bernabeu.Real Madrid-Espanyol
How is the new Raúl?
Somewhat different, I may not have the buzz of playing competitively any more but have an excellent challenge ahead with the opening of the LaLiga office here in New York. We're working on strategic plans on how to grow as North America is such an important market, everyone wants to be here due to the opportunities the US offers.
Can football really compete here with the likes of American football, baseball and basketball?
It is already competing in it's own way. The average attendance at MLS games last season was 21.000 and there are teams in the league who regularly get 45.000 spectators at home games.
Jorge Valdano recently stated that with the globalization of the game, systems have taken over from flair. Do you agree with this view?
There are plenty of people within the game worried constantly about systems and playing styles. Firstly it's important to know your players and give freedom to those creative individuals within the squad. There is too much football played under the fear of losing. I see games at times and feel frustrated watching teams not trying win games.
Atlético Madrid and Leicester City have managed to make a name for themselves with their own determined style of play.
Certainly, no-one can take away from their achievements and I'd even go as far as to say that the good teams have failed to play to their potential. Atleti have a way of understanding football that has given them great results in recent times securing a league title, two Champions League final appearances and their fans have every right to feel very proud of what they have achieved.
Was Xavi wrong to state that a big club shouldn't play the way Atletico do?
Each person will have their own particular view-point. In my time at Real Madrid winning simply wasn't enough. We were obliged to win by playing well. Atleti beat Barcelona and Bayern Munich on their way to the final and were close to winning the game in Milan. It's clear that there is an exceptional solidity in the team.
So do you feel more of an affinity to the Guardiola style of football rather than that of Simeone?
I like an offensive style of play with teams going for the game from the outset but at the same time I can appreciate a style based on competing. I feel it's important to have equilibrium in one's side.
It's important that a football match resonates with the viewers. Look at the Champions League semi-final between Real Madrid and Manchester City for example. Madrid played well in flashes but there were times during the tie that you felt that neither side wanted to lose.
Is this Raúl the coach talking?
That's what people close to me say although I haven't got all the qualifications yet. I really enjoy working on the training ground coaching kids and probably need to pay heed to those around me who say that I'm coaching material.
So how would Raúl the coach play?
It's difficult to say as it's one thing to coach a side in the Champions League as opposed to a team fighting to avoid relegation.
You commented at the time that when you played with Zidane you didn't feel he was coaching material. Why was that?
It was a feeling at the time. I just didn't see him as a coach but he's subsequently worked in different areas of the club, spent some time working with Ancelotti then was given the opportunity to oversee Castilla so I guess it was always something that he had inside. I also feel that since he's been with the first team he is growing constantly as a coach.
What's been the key to his success?
Having faith in his players and getting them to believe in themselves.
He has what you would have, respect from the players.
Maybe that's true and I'd imagine that what he says gets through. Next year will be an interesting test for him as he now has a major role in preparing and planning the squad for the season ahead.
Eleven coaches in thirteen years is a lot? Is this due to Florentino?
Yes, it's a lot. I saw more changes in managers than years at the club. In my first six years I worked with Valdano, Arsenio, Capello, Heyncknes, Camacho and Hiddink before Del Bosque arrived.
What do you feel Madrid lost when Del Bosque left?
He managed to get things back on track at the club after four or five years of instability. It was a decision made by the club at the time and now looking back it was possibly not a good move. In life as in football decisions are made and one has to look to the future. Vicente had a similar experience with the Spanish national team. He was able to maintain continuity after Luis Aragonés left and after the slip-up in Brazil has reestablished the national side as a competitive force again.
Could Del Bosque have been Real Madrid's version of Alex Ferguson?
Yes, that could have happened. Del Bosque had the right profile to stay at a club like Real Madrid but in football one never knows.
Would you like to be that figure?
I genuinely feel that change is good at times. It's easy to look back and feel that all Alex Ferguson did at United was positive and at the same time there are those who criticize Arsene Wenger for being at Arsenal for too long.
Do Real Madrid need a Sporting Director?
That's a question for the president.
But that could be an ideal role for yourself?
I feel it's important to have a figure who can liaise with the club and with the players, not just at Real Madrid but everywhere, it's a structure I've always believed in. Currently this position doesn't exist at Madrid and despite that they've managed to win the Champions League twice in the past three seasons but I'm a firm believer in fluid communication on every level.
Do you feel Madrid should sign Paul Pogba?
I'm not sure. He's an excellent player and am sure that coach would have studied on how he would enhance the current team and style of play.
What area of the pitch do you feel Madrid need to reinforce?
The team look strong everywhere so I guess it would be a question of reinforcing certain positions.
Do Madrid need a Makelele?
Every team needs balance and equilibrium and sometimes just one player can provide that during a game. Look at the team when Madrid won the Champions League final in Lisbon. Di Maria was the player that provided that function.
He has a great physical presence and it would be a question of looking at factors such as price and general conditions. He's a player that Madrid would love to have as would any team.
Part II of the exclusive Raúl interview will be published tomorrow as the No.7 reflects on his departure from the Bernabeu, Cristiano Ronaldo and the Spanish national team.
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