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Eusebio: "Zidane deserves credit but Benítez's influence is still noticeable"

The Real Sociedad coach spoke about his future and life in San Sebastián during EFE's forum: "I'm in the ideal place to realise my dreams".

Eusebio en un evento de EFE.
Maite Martín.

Taking Real Sociedad to new heights

Valladolid born and bred (the town of La Seca, to be precise), Eusebio Sacristán says that life itself has shown him that dreams can come true. The Real Sociedad coach was the special guest in Tuesday's Efe Forum and began by talking about the tacticians who had the greatest influence on his managerial career.

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Cruyff philosophy

"[Vicente] Cantatore was one of the coaches who probably left the biggest mark on me. His manin belief was getting the best from his players through recognition, he'd tell you what you did well, and that is a blueprint which I have tried to follow and implement with the players I coach", Eusebio explained. As for Johan Cruyff, who he played under in Barça's illustrious Dream Team, he said: "He entered into my life to give sense and meaning to my career. I remember he would stop us to correct what we were doing in every single training drill in every session - every day. It's not easy to understand the zonal, positional concepts of the game".

It was as Frank Rijkaard's assistant that Eusebio got his first break as part of a coaching team: "It was under Frank that I learned how to manage the team. He was a reference in my career.

"I started to draft younger players into the first team when I was in the Celta job because, for my philosophy of the game, they were technically good enough. The players at Barça B were also technically gifted but they had to adapt to the rigours high competitiveness which you need to compete in the Second Division, and that was something they were not used to. Now, at Real Sociedad, I have players who have the quality and the experience to compliment it. Whenever I allow them to take the initiative, they tell me: 'We really feel comfortable playing this way', because they are able to bring out their best traits".

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Vela transformed

Perhaps the most striking case of Eusebio's psychological tricks transforming a player at La Real is that of Carlos Vela. "He is a brilliant player and he possesses certain attributes which make him one of the best players in his position in the world. Sometimes he lets his emotions get the better of him, and when he doesn't feel wanted, or loved, he starts thinking about leaving. He had his doubts, but over the summer I told him that I wanted him in the team because he is a luxury player. I wanted him to feel happy, motivated... and now we are on the right path", Eusebio said about the Mexican.

As for La Real's style, Eusebio explains it is based on Cruyff's own theories: "My idea is to attack by taking the initiative, from the goalkeeper forwards; ride out each line of pressing which our rivals put us under and advance using our wing players with a high number of our key players arriving through the middle... If we lose possession we have to win the ball back in our opponents' half and in the modern game that means our forwards have to retreat when they need to".

Benítez influence still visible

Eusebio also gave his thoughts on how Zidane has been getting along in his first major coaching position . "Zidane is doing very well, and that deserves credit. He's doing well in handling the dressing room and in his ideas about how the team should play in football terms. Before, Madrid were more hard-hitting and now they have tightened up in defence. And let's not forget the role Benítez played in that. He has showed throughout his career that he usually gets his tactics spot on and you casn't say that this Madrid side doesn't have some of his hallmarks".


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