Esteban Granero at AS
AS ran an interview with Esteban Granero today, and as with any other time where words come out of El Pirata’s mouth, it’s good.
I still laugh each time I see how chubby little Antonio was…
Why did you leave Real Madrid?
The decision was mine. It was a difficult moment because it was the last day of the transfer market and it could have set back the plans of the club, but Mourinho respected my decision, as he has always done, and the president did as well.
How did you decide on QPR?
I had the opportunity to do what I wanted, which was to go to the Premier. When I arrived there, the league had already started, but the adaptation occurred quickly. The day after arriving, I played against City without even training. The adaptation to both the team and the city was great.
It’s been said that Míchel wanted to sign you for Sevilla. Did you consider other options?
There are always offers. There was Sevilla, and it’s easy to have offers when you play for Madrid. QPR offered a different project. They came to see me in Madrid and I wanted to play in England. The Premier has always attracted me and I wanted to play there.
Did you have any other options in England?
There were other options but this was an exciting project. In addition, the team is in London, which was a plus.
Do you still have this illusion, even after being relegated?
My illusion is the same. You always have to be disappointed with how things have gone. The results have been negative, and in this way the responsibility lies with everyone. I have taken my share. My hope to continue playing football and continue growing is the same, or even stronger. I have learned a lot as a person, and above all, as a footballer. This league makes you grow a lot. Now I feel stronger than I did one year ago.
Did you expect to play more?
I played practically all that I could. I had a small injury and then I didn’t play for a period of three games with the change of coach, but then I began playing again. I have played quite a lot (29 games, 19 as a starter). Playing in the Premier has been an experience.
Are you happy with your performance?
When you come from Madrid and you go to a small team, and I mean small only in comparison to Madrid, you run the risk of losing your focus. What you do here has less repercussion but I’m happy with my performance.
Give yourself a grade.
Football is a collective sport and I can’t grade myself without punishing myself for not achieving the collective goal. Personally, I’m very satisfied with how I have felt on the field and with feeling important again for a team.
Will you continue with QPR next season?
This will once again be a summer with little stability. We have to wait until the end of the season and until I talk to the club. We’ll see what’s best for everyone.
If you could choose, would you like to continue in the Premier, or would you like to go to another country?
For me, the most important thing is football. I’ve never prioritized the economic terms or other things. Right now I’m not planning on playing in the second division because I don’t believe that’s the place for me. I say that in the most humble way possible, but that’s how I feel. We’ll see what happens. The experience in the Premier has been great and I would love to play here.
Why are so many Spaniards going to England?
Spanish players are attracted to this atmosphere because as kids, when we imagined playing football, we imagined the football found here, which is very pure and which is experienced with a special intensity. And then it has happened that English clubs are going after Spanish footballers. Before, there was a certain unwillingness, but this has changed with players who have set the standard very high, such as Mata, Silva, Cazorla or Arteta. In addition, there are also the performance of the national team and the economic crisis in Spain, which have also affected football and have made many footballers look beyond the borders of Spain.
Are the relationships with the fans and the press also better?
It’s a big change. You notice it on a personal level and with the media. It’s nice for everything to be calm and to not be watched constantly. All of the Spaniards who are here are in agreement with this.
Mata always says he takes the Underground, do you as well?
Yes, I take the metro, the bus, everything. I supposed Mata is stopped more than me on the street but the people are always very respectful towards you.
Do the Spaniards get together often?
Yes, we see each other quite often. I meet up with Juan (Mata), with Mikel (Arteta) and with Santi (Cazorla). It happens that all the players here are very good people.
And three are Madrid canteranos: Javi García, Mata and Marcos Alonso.
Yes, they’re good boys. If they’re from the cantera of Madrid, I’m sure that they will be good.
Can you believe what happened to the Spanish teams in the Champions League?
No one could have imagined what happened to Barça, although we all knew how strong Bayern Munich was. They’re physically very strong and they have been trained very well. Last year we suffered against them and this year it was Barça. Barça went in with just enough strength and against those teams you pay a price.
Do you see a change of cycle?
It’s true that Barça doesn’t appear to be as strong as it was several years ago but the players are the same. It still has many of the best players in the world, they have quality and the same style, but in the summer they will have to reinforce themselves. Anyway, they will win the Liga, which for me continues to be the standard.
A lot more than the Premier?
Not a lot, but for me the Spanish league is the best. Perhaps the Premier is more attractive. They have different styles but the world’s three best footballers (according to the Ballon d’Or results) are there.
What are your thoughts on Madrid’s elimination from the Champions?
I experienced it with a lot of emotion, as one more fan, with the bufanda and suffering. I thought that we were going to make a comeback. I knew that the fans in the Bernabéu would be supporting the team and that the team would respond. They had a small lapse in Dortmund but I had confidence in the Bernabéu. If we had gone into halftime with a goal it would have been easier. After the game, you realized what Madrid was made of. The fans were proud. The team was good, it fought and we were just unlucky.
Have you spoken with any of your former teammates about what happened?
We have exchanged messages, but I also didn’t want to talk about that. I have a good relationship with them but from the experience last year I know that those days are tough.
You have a good relationship with them?
Yes, especially with the Spaniards. Xabi Alonso has come here several times and we have a good relationship. José (Callejón) and Álvaro (Arbeloa) were also here.
What are you thoughts on the Casillas situation?
It’s difficult to opine from the outside. Obviously, there is a conflict. I know Iker very well and he’s the best goalkeeper in the world. He’s the captain of the national team and he has won the World Cup and the Eurocopa twice. He’s a symbol of el madridismo. He has been with the club for 20 years, and for me, he has always been a model. But I’m not the coach and I’m not anyone to evaluate each person’s situation. I also say that Diego López deserves everything. I know him from the cantera and I’ve seen him training like a crazy person his entire life. He’s very professional. I can’t give an opinion from the outside but Casillas is Casillas and he’s indisputable. I’m not referring to him being the indisputable starter, but rather that his status as a symbol, as an emblem and as a goalkeeper is indisputable. But I’m not inside the locker room and the coach is sufficiently professional and intelligent to choose.
Do you see Mourinho returning to Chelsea?
There is a lot of discussion about that here. Only he knows. He’s a coach that creates a lot of expectations, because he’s so good, he wins a lot and everyone has something to say about him. What Madrid has done in the past three years is very good. He took a team that was at the moment second to Barça and he put them on top. In addition, he has the affection of the fans. I don’t know what he’s going to do, but if he goes to the Premier, the Premier will win because it will have a great coach.
As a fan of Madrid, what do you expect?
If he stays, I would be very happy because as a fan I like to have a good coach. He has done a great job, but if he leaves, someone else will come. Luckily, we have a president who works very hard and well for Madrid. He has put the best team in the world together and things are going to continue like that. Madrid will continue to fight for titles.
Why wasn’t he accepted by the team?
I believe he has been accepted. He was accepted perfectly at least until the day I left. The relationship was very good and he had the respect and the affection of all the players. This year I’m not there. I read many things but I can’t extrapolate what I read to reality.
If the team had won the Champions, would something have changed?
I wish it could have been like that. I’m sure no one had more desire than he did. He’s a born winner and he has an especially close relationship with the Champions League. We were close to the final three times but it wasn’t to be. I’m sure next year we’ll be close once again.
You’ve always had good things to say about Mourinho.
And he has had good things to say about me. He has always been great with me, the relationship has been great. He was generous with me and this is strange in a world where each one looks out for his or her own interests. He looked out for mine and I’m grateful for that. He treated me very well and he made me better.
Do you envy Barça for having so many canteranos?
The comparison with Barça is misleading. We’re looking at the last four years, which is when Barcelona has brought together a group of eight or nine from 1987 and 1988. But it’s not right to put Madrid’s cantera below them from a global point of view, because the cantera of Madrid has always produced more players. I would like for there to be more canteranos. Mourinho and the president would as well. The solution might be in managing the cantera in another way, so that Castilla’s players have guarantees that they will be promoted to the first team.
And how do you explain the success that Mata, Javi García, Negredo, Carvajal have had?
For example, Carvajal went to play in Germany and I believe he will return. Today, he’s much better than he was last year. With regards to Mata, that’s more of a crime for me but that’s from the past when things weren’t handled as well. Now they’re doing a better job.
Hopefully Esteban will once again be able to cheer the basketball team onto victory (and La Novena!) this evening! ¡¡¡¡Vamos!!!!