Close to half an hour chatting with Real Sociedad coach Eusebio is enough to cover most topics. It is turning out to be a successful season for the txuri-urdinak and much of that has been down to how the 52-year-old, Valladolid-born coach has settled in at the club and how he is managing a squad which is regularly being replenished by up-and-coming young players from La Real's esteemed youth academy. Eusebio didn't evade any of our questions when AS sat down to discuss the club's sporting project at their training complex in Zubieta - even the question about being linked with the club where he spent seven hugely successful years as a player, Barcelona.
Eusebio and the press
What is your relationship with the press like? How is the media for Eusebio?
They are like our PA system. They ensure that most of what we do here in Zubieta reaches our fans and that, to me, is an important part of what a club should be about. We get very good support from the media and they help us to get our message to the public; so it's important to be able to communicate well with them and that we respect each other. Both of us need to do our job as best as we can because in the end, we both want the same objectives. We need each other and I for one, try to make the most of all of the resources involved at the club, and that includes the media.
Do you read the press regularly? What do you make of the criticism, praise, rumours…
I don't read very much because I don't want to be influenced by anything that isn't directly related to what is going on here inside the club, because sometimes, you are not given all of the information. I understand other people's opinions and I respect them, but I need to be fully concentrated making sure the day-to-day workings here in Zubieta is running smoothly. I do like to know what others are thinking to be able to get an idea of how the work we are doing is being received and how that is being transmitted to the fans. But there is no one better than us, who are working on the inside, to know what is needed at any given moment.
Real Sociedad's ambitions to return to Europe
I'm putting that question to you because just a couple of weeks ago, there was a sense of euphoria about logging a Champions League place which has made way for doubts that the team could qualify for Europe at all…
In spite of all of that, I think we should remain true to our idea, and our hopes and determination to finish as high up the table as possible - we are not going to lose anything - we are going to continue with the ambition to finish as high as we can. It's true that we haven't had good results lately, and we have to reflect on that to be able to aspire to the very best.
What have you been reflecting on during this international break?
That we are on the right path, that we have no worrying issues to be alarmed about, that we have to continue focusing solely on our day-to-day work, that we cannot allow ourselves to be distracted - even though we are now entering a decisive part of the campaign. We are dedicated to look after the small details, nothing that goes on outside will affect us, and we have to recognize that we have done a good job up until now - work which we have been given praise for - but the season's not over yet and we are about to enter the stage where the fruits of all of that work will be reaped; if we lose concentration now, we will be making a big mistake. I only want everyone to feel convinced that we will be able to reach our objective if we continue in the same way we have up to this point.
Some have argued that you don't have a Plan B...
It wouldn't be intelligent to start changing things now. The intelligent thing to do now is to insist in our philosophy and keep improving and evolving as a team. To do that, all of the difficulties we have been through will serve us in some way. The easy thing would be to imitate what everyone else is doing but that is not going to help us to improve - it would be a step backwards; we are building on what we have got, and that's our greatest strength.
You have said that La Real are on the same road which Atlético de Madrid started out on a few years back. Do you believe that Real Sociedad can emulate Atleti's achievements of trophies, finals, qualifying for Europe year on year…?
Aren't you being overly ambitious?
But if Atlético have done it… why can't we? What difference is there?
Spending powers and players perhaps?
But La Real's players are the same level as Atlético's. I am convinced about that. We are seeing Rulli, Iñigo Martinez, Yuri, Xabi Prieto, Illarramendi, Vela, Oyarzabal, Zurutuza… Many of those players could be first choice at a club like Atlético. And on top of that, we have something which Atlético doesn't have - a lot of players coming through the youth system. That means we have a level of commitment to the club which perhaps their players don't have. I believe we can achieve similar successes to what Atleti have achieved and if I didn't believe it, we would never achieve it. We have all of the conditions needed to be able to dream. With the potential we have, this is an opportunity for us. To be where they are, first of all Atlético had to believe, and it was their coach who was the first to believe they could do it.
How far along that road are Real Sociedad?
We're not even at the halfway stage. We have taken an important step, which is competing with rivals who are better than us, and we have managed to beat them at certain moments. The players now believe in the team's potential. Now that we have that faith, we have to put it into practice.
Real Sociedad target return to Europe
You don't seem to like talking about the Champions League much...
That's because I prefer to talk about us improving as a team, to go up a level, because whenever we have done that, we have shown we can beat anyone. We are going to try and repeat all of the positive sensations we have had since the season started in these last 10 games of the campaign.
Are you worried about the rumours linking top clubs with some of your best players?
Yes, of course that worries me. But it would be irresponsible of us to be distracted from doing our job with the players at this stage of the season.
How do you ensure that a player doesn't take any notice of interest from other clubs?
We all must show respect to this club, to this team and and to those who are giving the best of themselves to put the seal of a great season. We should feel grateful. We will never achieve anything if people put their own interests first. If you area aware that you need to give your best right up until the final day and when you achieve an important objective, that interest is going multiply. If it doesn't, you'll be losing something by wanting to reap the rewards before the end and that's not the intelligent way to go about things. You need to be honest with your work and with the team which has given you the opportunity to show your best side; and you need to give everything you have got right up until the very end. That is what makes a team successful.
Eusebio, under contract at La Real until 2019
On a similar theme but moving on, you have been constantly linked to taking the Barça job…
I am not going to waste a single second more on that subject. I have it absolutely clear in my mind. I can understand a player having doubts, when everyone loves them. And I am not saying that I am not flattered that a great club might be thinking about me as a future coach - that means my work, thanks to a great club like Real Sociedad, is being recognized. I'm flattered, but it doesn't fulfill me. What would fulfill me is completing a great season with Real Sociedad, I am valued here, I am supported here and I owe them for that.
Coaching Barça is a dream?
Right now, no. My objectives as a coach are the same as the ones I set when I was a player - I want to enjoy a lengthy career - like I did as a player. I have found a club where I have all of the challenges and motivation I need. Doing great things with La Real will help me to have a long managerial career. Barça? I don't know where the future will take me, or what will be motivating me in the future. Everything I am looking for I have right here at Real Sociedad, and I want to prolong that for as long as possible because I have found the perfect balance between my professional and personal lives and that is not easy. Thinking beyond that is not going to do me any good.
Eusebio would turn down Barça if them came knocking
Have Barça contacted you about replacing Luis Enrique?
And if they do call this summer, would you turn them down?
Yes, I can assure you of that. I'll say the same to you as what I'll tell anyone else who asks that question. Maybe some won't believe me but I am 100% convinced about what I say. In life it's never a good idea to say never, but I cannot see any possibility of such a situation arising.
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