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a bit of reading before tonight’s game

November 23, 2010

There’s a lot of words below, so I’ve put this picture of the adorable Marcelo here so that you can start off with something nice, and return to it whenever you feel your eyes deserve a break!

The words come in the form of interviews José Mourinho did with FIFA, and Iker with UEFA, as well as Mou and Xabi’s press conferences yesterday in Amsterdam.  There’s also a bit of team news!

Let’s start with Iker.  Iker says that the fact that Madrid has not been able to get past the round of 16 since 2004 is a “small trauma” for everyone, but especially for him, since he’s been there the longest.

However, he doesn’t feel like they need to worry too much about this, because of the arrival of one José Mourinho:  “his arrival also meant the arrival of new players with a lot of talent, who want to do things well, who have a lot of hope and commitment.  It’s like a breath of fresh air to me.”

Of those new players, Iker talked the Germans: “both Mesut and Sami are serious boys who are trying to integrate as quickly as possible.  It’s not easy since they speak a different language and it’s always hard to learn a new one but the entire team is supporting them in every moment to help them adapt.  We’re like a family, since we take care of each other, especially the younger ones.”

His favorite memory in the Champions League is the final against Valencia in 2000, since he didn’t allow any goals:  “I had just turned 19 and to be able to play in such an important final after securing a starting spot was impressive, especially since it happened four days after I turned 19.”

Read the original interview here (I translated from the Spanish), includes a video.

While Iker was busy talking to UEFA, Mou was doing the same to FIFA.  Here are my favorite excerpts from part one of his interview (part two comes out today).

FIFA.com: Jose, how would you define your coaching style? Is the high esteem your former charges hold you in the best calling card you could wish for?

Jose Mourinho: The players miss me and I miss them. I’ve left behind some true friends at my former clubs and that’s something which transcends the game of football. Missing someone and caring about them is normal amongst friends, just as it’s only natural to hope things go well for your former charges, people who you’ve shared a dressing room with and experienced matches together.

Does it bother you when you’re negatively portrayed in certain sections of the media?
Only those who work with me know who I am, while only my friends and my family know me well. Has anybody who knows me ever said any of these things which I’m so freely accused of?

When you were appointed Real coach you said you’d need time to bring your project to fruition, but early results have been impressive. Are you ahead of schedule?
Real Madrid are playing well, I’d even go so far as saying very well in certain games. But my team aren’t the finished product yet, we’ve still got a lot of ground to cover. You can’t build a team overnight as if by magic. We have to work hard day in, day out, while staying humble, professional and enthusiasm. That said, I’m very happy with our performances and the results so far.

Does that mean you won’t be seeking new signings in the January transfer window?
Yes, our big signing in the winter window will be Kaká – he’ll be a fantastic boost for us. How many clubs can sign a ‘Kaká’ in January? There are no players of his caliber on the market.

What role will Zinedine Zidane have now he has returned to the club?
A genius like Zidane needs to stay involved in football and work for Real Madrid. That’s why I suggested to President Florentino Pérez that we needed to re-sign him. Now we’re just looking into which role would suit him best and make the most of the footballing knowledge he has. I want him working closely with me and the squad, rekindling the leadership role he had as a player.

(Here’s a picture of the genius looking very stylish upon his arrival in Amsterdam yesterday with the rest of the team.  Sergio’s not looking bad either.)

Talking of the playing staff at the Bernabeu, who has caught your eye most since you arrived?
I’d most like to highlight the performance of the team as a whole, particularly those players who aren’t such big names. Then you have the charisma of Iker Casillas and the quality of the metronome Xabi Alonso. He’s a player in the Xavi mould and a man who I’m sure could be a great coach once he hangs up his boots, should he so desire. He reminds me of Pep Guardiola during his playing days, when he was like a coach out on the pitch.

Is there anybody else you’d like to mention?
Well, first of all I’d like to single out [Ángel] Di María. The Argentina international is very young and joined us from Benfica, who are in a much weaker league, but to be honest he’s adapted perfectly. Angel is the nicest surprise I’ve had since arriving, as well as the professionalism and work ethic of players like [Raúl] Albiol, [Álvaro] Arbeloa and [Esteban] Granero. All those players work very hard every day to earn a starting place or to play a part coming off the bench, so I can see why Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has faith in them. They’re great pros, the type of men that make a team.

And how would you say Karim Benzema is doing?
Karim has to understand that he’s not playing by himself, that he has to be more of a team player and work really hard, especially in training. He’s doing just that and I’m pleased to see how his attitude has changed. He’s starting to get the level of involvement that he deserves. I expect a lot from him, I want him to be as good as or better than the player I first saw at Lyon. I know how gifted he is and that’s why I push him.

Given Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira’s relative lack of big-club experience, are you satisfied with how they’ve performed?
They’ve got a fantastic attitude, they’re hard workers and they’re always willing to learn. What’s more, they’re two great lads and working with them would be a pleasure for any coach. I haven’t forgotten Joachim Low’s part in their rapid rise to prominence, as he was brave enough to play them at a World Cup despite their youth and inexperience. They should also be grateful to the coaches they had at Werder Bremen and Stuttgart [respectively].

Can Cristiano Ronaldo repeat the form he showed at Manchester United now you’re at the helm?
Cristiano is one of the two best players in the world. That’s indisputable. Some days he’s better than Leo Messi and other days it’s the Argentinian’s turn, but the two of them are a class above. There are too many things being said about him (Ronaldo) that just aren’t true. He’s a great pro who lives and breathes the game so as to perform the best he possibly can.

How do you manage to instil teamwork in a squad packed with great individual talents?

It’s very easy to understand: players win games, but teams win trophies.  [Amen.]

In his press conference, Mou touched upon Sergio’s penalty, saying: “if tomorrow there is a penalty, whoever can make it will take it.  I was surprised that Ramos took it because I didn’t know if Cristiano would have a problem with it because he’s the chosen one to take them, but if he decided to let Ramos take it, there aren’t any problems.”

And the other quote I really liked was when TSO was asked how it was for him to have spent 12 days without talking to the press:  “those 12 days were the best days since I got to Madrid.  They were relaxing, and I just worked with my players and had my training sessions.  I had no problems with not speaking.”

Xabi also spoke with the press, but didn’t say anything too interesting.  However, I do love these photos of him, so I have to write a few words to justify posting them here.

On Zidane, Xabi said, “it’s important for everyone to be able to count on Zidane.  It’s a motivation and so far it appears that he’ll bring a lot.  I see his presence as something very positive.”

And on Madrid’s return to Amsterdam Arena (where they won La Séptima – what a night!), Xabi said, “that was an important achievement for el madridismo.  Hopefully we can repeat it by winning La Décima.

(By the way, Zidane was also in Amsterdam that night, except he was on the losing side with Juventus).

And in the teams news part, Real Unión has offered to hold a tribute for Rubén de la Red (if you remember, it was in a Copa del Rey game two years ago against the Basque team where Rubén fainted, left the field and never came back) following his announcement that he was retiring from football.  The team has sent a letter to Rubén offering him their “support and friendship,” as well as their intention to hold a tribute in his honor, before one of their official games this season.

What a grand gesture by Real Unión!
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13 Comments leave one →
  1. Sam permalink
    November 23, 2010 09:29

    Seriously Una, thanks very much for (all of) this. I love reading about the insights into the team and you amazingly seem to catch it all. It must be ridiculously hard work (and I really do hope that secretly Madrid has you as a part of the PR team and pays you with chocolate and kisses from Iker and Sergio :-p) and it is truly appreciated! 🙂

    What a nice gesture from Real Union! Its good to see that de la Red is appreciated and missed by more than just madridistas.

  2. November 23, 2010 09:35

    Great Work , Una . Thanks alot.

  3. Joy permalink
    November 23, 2010 09:43

    Thank you so much Una! I love your posts!
    Also…the idea of, say, Xabi as eventual Real Madrid coach…*dead*.

  4. Laura permalink
    November 23, 2010 11:06

    Great work Una (and so early in the morning, admirable)

    I like what Iker and Mou say about Sami and Mesut. Especially what Mou said about Jogi’s role in the development.
    And I can only repeat myself, it was a good decision of both to go to RM.

    • pammy permalink
      December 19, 2010 20:13

      i completely agree with you. i was kinda scared that they wouldn’t succeed there cause it was such a big club.

  5. Cindy permalink
    November 23, 2010 12:08

    Thank you Una. Great job as always. Real Madrid is very very lucky to have a fan as you. Here’s hoping for a Real win tonight.

  6. November 23, 2010 14:14

    Oh, thank you! lots of nice information!

    Numero 1: I love TSO now!

    Numero 2: Zidane’s “re-signing” as they call it, warms my heart and gives me totally irrational hope that he would like to come back and that he would be awesome like he always was and that it would make me to go to Madrid asap to see him play again. Oh, hopes! BTW I am totally convinced that if he played today, he’d outplay the defenders like only a professor can outplay the students.

  7. Hala Madrid permalink
    November 23, 2010 16:25

    ZIZOU!

    I’m so glad that he’s back with Real Madrid, even if it’s just on the sidelines observing. I have seen him play quite a few times and he probably will be the best player I will see in my life time.

  8. Janina permalink
    November 23, 2010 22:56

    I still can’t believe how awesome they all are.
    I’m from germany and i love what Iker (and Mou) said about Sami and Mesut.
    And thanks to you i can read it here.

    *quote*
    Also…the idea of, say, Xabi as eventual Real Madrid coach…*dead*.
    *unquote*

    100% agreed. (especially the *dead* part.)

    And again, thank you for posting this (and all the other stuff).

  9. Gillian permalink
    November 24, 2010 00:58

    Sigh. The pretty of Xabi. :::SWOON:::

    Love the Mou interview!

  10. Delicious permalink
    November 24, 2010 14:52

    Iker looks very tired. Poor guy! But the things he says are really cute.
    Btw is your name really Una? I thought “una Madridista” would mean something like “a Madridista”..

    • November 25, 2010 07:08

      “una madridista” does mean a madridista, and no, my real name is not Una!

      • Delicious permalink
        November 28, 2010 12:56

        Ah ok. I was a bit confused because some people who comment on your posts called you Una.

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