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"We've been thinking about the winter transfer window since September"

Míchel poses for a photo on La Misericordia beach in Malaga after the interview.
Míchel poses for a photo on La Misericordia beach in Malaga after the interview. / SALVADOR SALAS
  • Míchel. Head Coach, Malaga CF, The coach is optimistic about the future despite the club's present situation: "There is always someone worse and our time will come."

Míchel is not disheartened by Malaga's poor showing. He is optimistic and believes the club's fortunes will turn around very soon. He says there has been an important change in the fitness level and commitment of many of the players, which will soon show results, but he is aware that there are things the club needs and that the management has been thinking about the winter market ever since the transfer window ended last summer.

Now aged 54, he considers himself a realist, has high praise for the fans and says the footballers and he, the coach, are very happy living in the city.

What are you doing to boost the team's performance before Christmas?

Working, but we have to define 'work'. There are things that journalists don't see. We always have to keep hope alive and there is a lot to do in our everyday work.

There appears to be a certain amount of resignation about the future of the team, even though it is still early days. Do you feel like that?

No, and nor do my players, because we don't look for any justification other than ourselves. We are looking at what may have happened since 1 September, because we want to grow in what we are doing. The word resignation doesn't enter into our vocabulary, ever.

What situation will Malaga need to be in at Christmas, if the present crisis is to be reversible?

What it mustn't be is despondent. There are many examples of teams like ours getting ahead. In some things, which are imperceptible because the results are not showing yet, we have been improving. Six weeks ago I was saying that the only player who was making the grade was Roberto, but now others are too. We have six or seven who are much better now.

So in January will you be reducing the staff and taking on at least two new players?

I have always thought 23 players would be sufficient, plus the subsidiaries. That increases competition, which in turn increases possibilities. If we can do that, it will be ideal.

Some players have been a disappointment, and others who were practically overlooked have proved vital. Any more mistakes could be fatal.

If you know you are about to make a mistake you don't do it. I give my opinion when I'm asked. I have nothing to do with the financial side. I believe you have to be careful, but we are in mid-November and there is still a way to go till the winter market.

How do you feel about the fact that nobody from inside the organisation has questioned you, despite the bad results?

Do you know who questions the coach most? The coach. Me. That gives me security, but it is also a greater responsibility than if they questioned me. We are trying, we are doing our best and working hard like we did last year, but we're not getting the results.

But won't people's patience run out if this crisis continues?

Patience is symptomatic in this club, on all sides, including the fans. But for the coach as well, because a lot of things have happened and I have never lost faith.

The planning has been disastrous, and several factors and people have been involved in that. Do you blame yourself at all?

A great many people and a lot of conditions have been involved. If I say anything it will sound as if I am trying to justify myself, and I detest that. I prefer to justify myself with my work. I accept the responsibility that corresponds to me.

How does the departure of Arnau and the arrival of Husillos change the situation?

They have two different ways of handling sports management, and that is noticeable. It's the same job but each has a different profile, a different feeling, and style.

Do you see an improvement in the players' commitment?

The players are starting to realise that everyone counts. I would say they are more focused, more responsible now, and that gives the sensation that the team is improving, even if we don't win. At first we were pretty sure that we would be able to win the matches, but we ended up losing. But that changed against Celta. I believe the players have upped their game, definitely.

Last week in an interview with Canal Sur you said you had made a mistake in telling the players off after the defeat in Soria. Why is that?

I don't regret getting angry, because we all, individually and collectively, do that. But when you say it like that, it looks as if Míchel is against his players, and that's not true. In the end, journalists say what they like. I don't feel bad about telling the footballers what I think, but I do when it is portrayed that way.

-When you talked about the recovery of some players, the best examples are Chory Castro and Peñaranda, who were ruled out at the start of the season.

Yes. For us, training is very important. Some believe that if they play well one Sunday they'll do the same the following week. We believe you have to keep them guessing, because if they become overconfident they do us a lot of damage. Also, I have told them and I say it publicly: if we had been able to reduce the numbers, it is possible that neither of them would be here now. But they have carried on, they train well, they participate well, so they are important.

Why are some players taking so long to show what they're made of?

Because Malaga is the ideal club, for the players and the coach. It is a very comfortable club in a fantastic city. And the fans, even with one point, act as if we had achieved a historic victory. The press doesn't put pressure on us. I don't want them to, but it's the truth. The players come to a place where they live very well and the people here are lovely. It's great for the coach as well, because it is unheard-of for a club to have so much patience with the coach, although this one always has. If I were a calmer type of person, more relaxed, I wouldn't be flogging myself so hard to find solutions. But I am, and we have found some.

On Sunday you have another final coming up, and with no Recio. What are you going to do?

We didn't have Recio at Camp Nou either, and the team played a more than respectable game. He is a very important player, but we can't allow ourselves to think he is essential. We have to look for solutions, and I think we have them. We are not going to stop.

Are you still interested in the King's Cup, as you said before the game with Numancia?

I am, indeed. I can't see any justification for us leaving that aside and I think we could win. We're not doing well at the moment, but in a couple of months, in the next eliminatory, we could be better. Every competition counts and every match is important.

How do you feel about the support from the fans, especially in the match against Celta?

-The fans have also realised that this feeling of comfort has to change. At the Celta match, they tried to tell us to wake up. And they are also awake. What I saw from the fans then, without being an extreme situation, I had never seen anywhere else. People demonstrate for different reasons, but in the ninth match, never. The public has woken up, just as we have done now.

THE COACH IN BRIEF

The future.

Good. Because I always think like that. For me the present is fantastic and I think the future will be too.

Arnau.

Malaga's situation hasn't been fair to him, because he is capable of working and look what happened in the end.

Al-Thani.

He's an unusual owner. Running a club from far-off has its inconveniences but there are also positive aspects, because you only know what you want to know.

Husillos.

He's a man who lives for football and is a normal chap. He's unusual in this sport.

La Rosaleda.

It's a shame it hasn't had better results and earned a better reputation, because it is a magnificent stadium.

King's Cup.

It's a competition which I don't think should be set aside. I think they should promote it more.

Resignation.

It's a word which isn't in my vocabulary or in my life. Becoming resigned to things is a sign of getting old.

Psychologist.

I don't understand why people only turn to psychologists when things are going badly. They should be everywhere, in sports clubs, in life, in schools etc.

Dismissal.

Part of every coach's working life. When you sign a contract, it is one of the clauses. For those of us who have been around a long time, it's just one of those things. It doesn't bother us.

Winter transfer window.

For us it is going to be an oasis, because it will enable us to reconstruct ourselves and that's what we need to do.