Interviews

LOTINA: ?THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE IS POSSIBLE?

20 Jan 2009
Miguel ?ngel Lotina gave a long interview to newspaper Xornal de Galicia, the Basque coach talked about his sensations now that the first round in la liga has ended. He is now affirming that Depor must fight in order to be at least seventh in the table.

Q: Despite recent defeats, the team closes the first round with 30 points. If we add to this the 35 points added in the second part of the part liga last season, Depor has achieved 65 points in the last 38 games. These are numbers to be at the top ...
A: Yes, the true is that the second round on the last year was tremendous, especially in terms of effectiveness. We were a very solid team in all the areas, defending and attacking the opponent, and this first round was also very good, except for these last two games, I am talking about the game and the results.

Q: With the permanence virtually achieved, only twelve points away, what is now the real objective?
A: To keep improving and correcting the defects, to be better every day. And in the table, we should try to be the best of what I call the League of 14. I mean, the ones that fight to be seventh and below. It isn’t easy, but in the first round we have been there. Let's see if we can continue or even escalate some positions, to the European spots.

Q: Is it ridiculous to think of going to the Champions League?
A: If you look at the games against Getafe and Recre, you will verify that the feelings were very good. We need to keep that momentum, and if we maintain the level, of course we can get into Champions League.

Q: After coaching several teams, have you finally found a place at Depor?
A: I have been very comfortable in all the places where I have worked, and here too. I am very happy with the squad, with the club’s officials ... with what Depor is and what it means to be the coach of this club.

Q: Do you see yourself in A Coru?a in three or four seasons?
A: I do not know, but hopefully, because that would mean that things will go well to both, Depor and Lotina.

Q: Therefore, your renewal for next year is almost a sealed thing ...
A: There should be no problem. I do not know when it will be signed, but I am not concerned at all.

Q: A few months ago, you confessed that you had received a call from Newcastle. Have you been called lately by other teams?
A: Lately, no. I had received a call from a person saying that Newcastle was interested in me, but the club never called me directly. I said that it was not the time, and that they should not be thinking of Lotina. I have a contract and did not want to do what Juande did before, for example. I believe that contracts exist to be fulfilled, and that's why I said no.

Q: What would have to be offered to Miguel Angel Lotina in order to leave Depor?
A: I do not know. It’s that I haven’t thought about it. For those issues I am very calm. I prefer to live day to day. Always value the sporting theme. Never accept the first offer, even when you're unemployed. I do not know what is needed for me to go, because I'm very comfortable on here.

Q: You were even related with the Spanish national team. Does it attract you such a possibility?
A: No. Honestly, I do not see me as a national coach. I am more a daily worker, a guy who is always at the bottom of the canyon, watching football players... but you never know what will happen in the future. Maybe, if a good opportunity arrives I will end accepting it, but in the beginning, I am not excited to be national coach, because I believe it isn’t my way to train.

Q: After losing at Almeria during last season, did you thought the club was going to fire you?
A: No. Whenever the results are bad you think it could happen, but neither you give too many laps, because you end overwhelmed. I thought in the next game, and fortunately everything went well. It is clear that the results mark the day by day and the future of a coach, but it’s better to not think too much about it, because it would be a complete suffering, a very difficult situation.

Q: Did you fear the relegation?
A: Sure. I liked the team, but everyday I was watching that something was happening, and that we couldn’t win. The days were passing, we still were playing well, the feelings were good, but we weren’t winning. However, the team was never broken, and that always gave me hope.

Q: Was the conflict between Mun??a and Aouate the most sensitive situation that you faced as a coach?
A: Yes, certainly yes, but then it got fixed. It is true that it was a very sensitive time and I prefer to forget.

Q: You are a coach who often changes your mind. The last example was the line-ups you used in the Cup against Sevilla, at the end the players that you announced didn’t perform. Do you think this can create uncertainty among the players?
A: No, quite the opposite. You always say what you think, but then the player makes you change your mind, for better and for worse. Now I can have an opinion, and within a month, another. When I arrived, Luis Filipe could not play in Spain, never, but then he showed with his attitude and work that he’s a great player and that why he’s playing now.

Q: What Deportivo’s players have grown in recent months?
A: Clearly, Lafita and Filipe Luis. One and a half year ago, when I arrived, they were not playing, and now they are irreplaceable, or at least normal starters. Verd?? has also completed a major leap on this season, Guardado is at a good level...

Q: What made you change your mind about Lafita?
A: The change from last year's system was a benefit to him. It wasn’t necessary to make long runs. Since we were playing with side defenders, there was no need to be so orderly, so disciplined. And he took advantage of that. Thanks to this, he grew up as a footballer and now we can play in a 4-2-3-1.

Q: Did you already thought in how to cover the possible exit of the Aragonian winger for the next season?
A: Obviously we are watching players and the possibilities that exist. We are not negotiating, but we are receiving reports of players who can adapt to this and other positions. We need to start planning the next season.

Q: As for renovations, you do not count with Mun??a, but the other players ending contract this year (Manuel Pablo, Verd??, Pablo Alvarez, De Guzman), with which ones do you want to count?
A: I would like to see all of them staying, but we will see what happens.

Q: Still wanting a left-back defender in this winter market?
A: No, nobody is going to come.

Q: Was the squad prepared for three competitions? Should we thank the elimination in Copa?
A: No, because we were playing with rotations and we were prepared. If the same ones were always playing, no, but there was no problem because we were resting people. It would have been nice to continue. All of those teams who are always playing with the same starting team, such as Sevilla or Atletico, they will end up paying. That’s for sure, one way or another.

Q: Against Sevilla you made a real 'dance' with the lineups during the three matches, and you end losing the three. Would you do the same again?
A: Yes, we committed mistakes, especially in la liga, and they escaped alive. Sevilla is a team with great players, and more than our mistakes, they won by their own merits.

Q: Have the rotations affected the concentration of the team?
A: I think that more than affect, it comes to be a good thing. There have been players who have told me they could not play, that they were tired, but I can not come out and say it in public, and I have to eat that. It is true that we now face the big teams, and it is logical that we suffer, but the group does not come down in these situations, they already showed this to me. We are more focused on doing things right and to improve rather than think of the result, and thanks to this, the situation will not escape from our hands.

Q: You have acknowledged that your defense is too soft. It is somewhat surprising, considering that the second coach is Jose Luis Ribera, person who at his stage as a player was characterized by the opposite.
A: In a general sense, we are not a team of a lot of fouls, of many traps. We spend more time playing. There are teams that are unpleasant, ones that commit many violations. We want another kind of football, because you can not have everything. I do not know if we are sinning for been too soft, but surely because we only commit a few fouls. But I don’t like to insist on that, I'm not a coach who likes tough teams. It is clear that we must commit fouls, but only those that are necessary. It also depends on the players. There are players that commit more fouls due the way they play, it is something that is carried inside.

Q: One of the most criticized players after the Cup has been Colotto. Are you worried about his poor performance?
A: I am happy with the two central defenders that we are using. If Colotto would be disputing all the games, he would have more pace, but if you play once a month with, you will notice it, especially him since he is a player that needs gasoline. If he would be playing every Sunday, he would be much better, but he lacks the continuity, he does not have that luck. There are players who don’t notice this lack of pace, as Laure, because they are fast and quickly are in, but there are others who don’t have enough with been training and need to compete. Colotto lacks precisely that, but we have never doubted about his ability.

Q: And then, isn’t risky to play with him in a crucial match such the one in Copa?
A: But it's that if we never put him... in football we must take risks, if not, you never win. In addition, the mistake that he committed was because he was trying to pass the ball. If we were always trying to send long balls, we would never fail. For that, we would say to the central defenders: as the ball comes to you, throw a long kick to the clouds. We take risks when we are passing the ball because we like to play football, that's the game you like here. If we want to play well, we have to be brave, you can not do a good football without risks.

Q: Are you surprised with the level of Bodipo?
A: Last year he was not fine, but this is the Bodipo I knew from Racing and Alav?s ... Neither is a big surprise. He has worked well in the trainings and has earned the job. In the summer, I told him that he needed to leave because there were new players and because on the last year he was not good. At the time he didn’t work so well because he was demoralized or came out from an injury. Now he has won the spot with his work and nobody has given anything for free to him.

Q: Why Omar Bravo hasn’t found an adaptation to Deportivo?
A: Aside from the typical problems of adaptation, Omar has a problem to play with our current system. He could be the only offensive reference, but it costs a lot to him. To play as a playmaker is neither good to him, it isn’t his place. The best for Omar is to play with a 4-4-2, with two strikers.

Q: Do you think that Fabricio still affected by the pressure you put to him on the last year?
A: No. The only problem is that Fabricio is off because he has not signed the renewal, and that affects his performance. He played the second-leg in Copa, because I didn’t want to point out to him as the culprit of the first-leg. It would have been more damaging.

Q: Will Valer??n play more often after the elimination in Copa?
A: I do not know. The sensations you get from the players make you decide. I can not say now who will play more because we are out of the Cup. I recognize the fans like him, I get on the stands and I love him too, but I have to evaluate other aspects: what’s contributed by each player, what’s the contribution of the rest ... I do not know what we are going to do within a month. Verd?? is playing right now and I'm very happy with him.

Q: But you will understand the fans will draw their attention to the fact he’s the player with less minutes in la liga...
A: But that is a thing of the newspapers. For me the fans can tell me anything. You, the journalists, think that what you say is what the fans think, but sometimes you are wrong. To me, people do not tell me that, far from it. If you analyze things, it is true that in liga is where he plays the less, but if you watch the official matches, he is not the least used man, or much less. I appreciate all three competitions, and I say again that a lot of times the journalists gave as granted some things the fans do not think. I see that people are delighted with Verd??, no one discuss that he has to play, no mater you feel a great affection for Valer??n. It's easy to say for any journalist that Valer??n has to play.

Q: I haven’t said that Valer??n has to play, I was just wondering.
A: Yes, I know, but it is not for you. I mean in general. It is very easy for a reporter to say that De la Pena and Xavi, for example, have to play, because any journalist, when says this, seems to like good football, and you don’t need to give explanations. Now, to say that Diarra or De Guzman have to play is more difficult, because then, they have to give explanations, and people doubt about their taste for football.

Q: Some have even wondered why the system was changed again on this year ...
A: I have explained that each system provides us with different things. Last year it was worthy to play with three central defenders, but it was costing us other things. The team was spending too much time in defense. Right now, with the new system, we are much closer to play at the rival’s area.

Q: Moreover, you already said that last year you changed the system searching for a shock effect. It was more important that change in a mental sense than in a football level. Therefore, it seems clear that the scheme you like the most for this Depor is now a 4-2-3-1. Isn’t?
A: Yes, I always liked to be playing with three central defenders, and I have played like that in all my previous teams, but I recognize that too many times the team ends stuck at the back zone. With this system, you press above and there is less distance between the lines. In the other way, you need to use two side defenders that have to run many miles.

Q: You argued before that the system must always be adapted to the players. Don’t you think that Filipe Luis has more facilities to play as a winger?
A: Yes, but you can not change the system for a player. Another thing is that you have a Messi, who is able to win a game for you, but not for a defender. Moreover, I don’t have any another left-back. One thing is that the system suits to the players, that's fine. But it’s like a player comes to me and says: "Coach, I do not defend well and I prefer to stay up front." Well, its fine, but he should win the games then. I have no problem if a player tells me that he can not defend if later he will win one of every two games disputed. Now, if I leave him in eight matches and he do not win any of them, then he will go to the stands.

Q: Can we think of winning the UEFA Cup?
A: Among the degree of difficulty, the draw has been kinder for us, and people are very excited. Depor has never won a European title, and that excites us, but we should not assume that’s easy.

Q: Is the crisis affecting football? Are you worried?
A: Yes, it affects everything and in one way or another, it reaches football. There are teams that do not notice this, maybe Depor is not affected, but in Segunda and Segunda B, where there was a lot of money in football from the building companies. At Primera you live the most of television, advertising, it’s another marketing, but multinationals are also in crisis, it has to affect.

Q: What’s your valorization of Lendoiro as a club’s manager?
A: He is a kind of president that is no longer seen on these days. In most of the teams new people have came, shareholders who haven’t drunk football, and Lendoiro is different, and this is a great advantage when it comes to endure the pressure. People who did not come from football, generally, are not surrounded by the right people, when they feel pressed and the media is extremely nervous. Lendoiro knows to whom he has to listen. The papers do not affect him so much, and that gives tranquility to a coach. Last year, with another president, I would have ended in the street, that’s for sure.

Q: What do you think about the fact that some papers are attacking Deportivo?
A: I think that, for Lendoiro, he doesn’t feel that pressure on his daily work or when he’s taking decisions. I believe that he won’t be valued as he deserves until some years pass. People will miss to win the league, to play the Champions League, and young people and the press will value him higher.

Q: Can it hurt you to see people asking you to do the same things as the Superdepor?
A: No. People are much smarter than we think. The fans know what we have. Now we can not compete with the big clubs in terms of signings.

Q: What player would you ask to Lendoiro, without thinking about the price?
A: Messi. I think undoubtedly he’s the best player in the world, and I'd love to have him.

Q: What has been your best and worst moment as a coach?
A: The best, winning the Copa Del Rey with Espanyol. And the worst, any of the occasions when I was fired. Surely the one at Celta, which I saw coming since a long time and since they were not fair with me. Not in the termination itself, but in day to day, until I was fired.

Q: What is your dream in this profession?
A: Winning another title, and the sooner the better. Hopefully with Depor.

Q: How is a day in the life of Lotina in A Coru?a?
A: If I am not at Abegondo, I am at home, and in the worst case, to go out for a walk or go to the gym. I also go out to eat with my wife. But I spent many hours at home reading or watching a video. I'm not the kind of person that goes out so much, and never do it at night.

ARCHIVE NEWS JAN/09

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