The Serbian coach, who enjoyed spells at Real Madrid and Atlético, analyzed the derby for AS and remembered Santiago Solari who he coached at the Calderón in the 90s.
Radomir Antic remembers Santiago Solari's playing days well - he coached the Argentine midfielder during his two spells at Atlético de Madrid. In the first, in 1998-99, he used Solari in just seven games (145 minutes) - the 17th most used member of the squad; in the following season when Atleti were relegated, he gave him 627 minutes spread out over 13 matches, making him the tenth most used member of his squad. In an interview with AS, Antic spoke about Solari the player and the coach and looked ahead to tomorrow's derby between Atlético and Real Madrid, two clubs he worked at during his coaching career.
In the late 90s when you were Solari's coach, could you see management material in him back then?
Yes. Every player has that ambition to go into coaching once their playing career is over.
What was your relationship with him like?
Just the same as with all of the players - good.
In your first spell at Atlético, you didn't use him very often but he was given more run-outs in your second stint at the club. Did you see any difference in him?
They were two different spells and a coach has to adjust to the moment of form every player is in.
But there were no problems with him?
No, no, no. Never.
Was he a good substitute?
Yes he was. A sub always has to have constant enthusiasm to be part of the team and to play. Always. To be able to convince the coach that he can come into the side.
And Solari had that?
Oh yes. He worked very hard in training.
Atlético relegated in 2000
How did you feel when the team was relegated?
That relegation wasn't really anything directly related to me. It was an atypical situation and for my past at Atlético, I'd rather not talk about it. There were a lot of problems, it was a very strange time. It was an odd time for everyone and out of respect, it's something I'd prefer not to talk about.
Solari's now coach at Real Madrid; do you think he's doing a good job?
You can see the team has improved. At the start, Madrid had a lot of injury problems and now the team's responding much better. More than anything, I've noticed that the team now has a positive mentality, which is fundamental at a club like Real Madrid.
What's caused the positive outlook; do you think the team has improved physically?
Things that weren't happening before have started happening now. The team, especially in terms of individual performances, is improving. Everyone is running more than before, and with a collective idea, it's clear that every player has recovered they were lacking not so long ago.
Who would be the clearest example of that?
Luka Modric. I like the way Solari insists on Modric, asking him to get forward to the rival area more. Modric has never been a great goal scorer but now he's looking a complete different player, while bringing out the best of the characteristics he already has.
Is this the best Modric we've seen?
No, but he had problems after the World Cup and now he seems much more positive, and is finishing off the team's moves. He's also improved his assist figures. It must be a new experience for him.
Solari the coach
Do you see Simeone's influence on Solari?
I don't like making comparisons. It wouldn't be fair to compare them now, with Solari only just starting out in coaching and Simeone with a proven track record.
But do you think Solari might have Simeone as a reference?
What advice would you give him?
Just to be aware that being Real Madrid coach demands delivering the maximum performance in every training session and every game.