Voro has come to the rescue once again at Valencia. But this time, not just for a couple of games - he will be in charge at Mestallla until June with the sole objective of making sure the team doesn't get relegated to LaLiga 1|2|3. There's a lot of hard work ahead, and the second round of matches - half a season exactly, to save the team from the drop...
Why did you decide you wanted to stay on as the coach this time?
Because the circumstances have changed. Until now, the club has never had the faith in me to let me take the reins of the team until the end of the season. That's the difference. Until now, the club already made it clear that it was only for one game, maybe two... or five, like the first time.
But on that first time, you insisted that you would return to your role as match delegate...
Yes, because it was only temporary - in three weeks the situation would have been resolved one way or another. It was an exceptional situation, like the other three times. But this time it's different. I can see the situation the club is in and that's why I have stepped forward. It's a very tough challenge, but at the same time it's a nice one to face. I'm in the position to be able to help my lifelong club. I'm aware of all of the things that could happen, but I am also sure that it will turn out ok for us.
What did the club say to you this time?
The club called me, and asked if I could take the squad for training and that they had complete confidence in me. There was no talk of limits or dates. Considering the situation the team is in, it's an act of responsibility on both parts; and also because it all worked out on previous occasions. I think I can lift the team.
Do you see yourself still in the job after June?
No chance! The objective is to make sure we don't get relegated, and that's all.
Have you received a phone call or messages from Peter Lim?
I've discussed everything with Layhoon Chan. I know that she is really suffering. I can see it in her face. We are all suffering, but we can't allow ourselves to be demoralised by all of this. We'll have good results and bad ones. This isn't going to be resolved in one month. If only that was the case... saving Valencia from relegation involves a huge amount of responsibility , and I don't use that word lightly. I've talked it through with the players, and I'm convinced that we are going to do it but it also means that we have be united.
That unity also implies that your own relationship with the players won't be the same as before, or, to put it another way, Voro is now 'Vora the coach', not 'Voro the friend'...
Look, to oversee one match or two, it's better to know the squad, the kind of football the players play - you can deliver short-term solutions like giving the players confidence and helping them on the mental side... but you cannot manage a team for a long period based on friendship because that requires mutual respect.
And how does a 'friend' earn that respect?
First of all, players need to understand that the coach is implicated too, that he is with them and that we are all defending the same ideas. Then there has to be respect for the coach, the one who not so long ago was their 'friend' - just in the way they have to respect any coach who comes into the job. There's no doubt about that. Managing a team based on an existing friendship might work for a while, but it will be far longer-lasting if you include other factors such as hard work, and that the players can see that what you tell them is coherent. Players are constantly analyzing you: the training sessions you plan, the decisions which you make at half-time... if you can give a player a valid solution, he will believe in you.
Is that secret to the Voro way?
I don't have any secrets. My mission is to get a group of players to perform to the best of their abilities. The team is in a complicated dynamic, one in which everyone is asking: Why aren't we winning? You need to look at the situation, and not kid yourself or anyone else. We are where we are and that is the reality. I feel I am capable of giving them a vision about the aspects in which we can improve, what needs to happen and what needs to change. I am involved 100 per cent in this job. I'm a hard-working person and I will be right in the line of battle. If I get it wrong, I will be the first to apologise. But I will be taking the path which I feel is the right one.
Was the mood within the dressing room different following Prandelli's departure compared to Ayestaran's?
The short answer to that is yes.
...and what is the long answer?
Pako's situation was different. The team has a good pre-season, the atmosphere was good, but in four games the whole thing just came tumbling down. The players were a bit down, but not destroyed. The season had only just started. Now it's different. Now you can see how low the team's position is in the table. The team entered into a downward spiral and with the coach resigning, I saw a group which was emotionally drained. Managing a group is complicated. Everyone has their own interests and yet it seems that the players are the only ones who are to blame. All of us were to blame. Including the match delegate, all of us.
From Prandelli's take on the situation, to yours, which sounds like responsabilities should be shared...
That's the reality which I am now in. Yes, the players are the ones who are out on the pitch but you have to explain the situation to them. It's not a question of cracking a couple of jokes and trying to be funny. To be able to compete, you have to be able to see reality. The players are the only ones who can haul us out of this situation and we have to find a way to reach our best performance levels.
What can Simone Zaza bring to the team?
Zaza has two training sessions under his belt with us and I have seen a player who is fully committed. I know that he is going to bring us a lot of things. He's not going to have any problems integrating into the squad. The team needs a player with his characteristics, and more than ever now after the blow of losing Rodrigo. We'll be using him when we feel he is needed.
Do you think Dani Parejo will stay on?
The club has told me that there hasn't been any offers, so I am counting on all of the players we have.
Does he seem committed to you?
Yes, very much so. Dani is a bloke who when he says he is leaving, he leaves. Dani is committed. There have been moments when he has gone through a rough time but he's a strong lad and he is looking committed, like Ezno... the whole team.
Will you be counting on [youth team graduate] Carlos Soler?
Of course. Carlos Soler is a player who I hadn't seen much of until quite recently because I didn't usually watch the training sessions. But now I've seen him at work and I've seen him compete. The more I watch him, the more I see him in a process of development and in that sense he can be a real help to us. I'm not playing him just for the sake of it, or as part of some hidden policy of blooding home-grown players to make headlines. I am playing him because I know what he can bring to the team. As I said earlier, players are on the ball and you cannot dish out playing time as though it's the lottery. I'm counting on Carlos for the quality he has, and for what he can contribute to the group.
- Roque Mesa1007Passes
*Update 19 de enero de 2017