Interviews

Q&A WITH FRAN

24 Sep 2020
Fran is the new director of Deportivo’s academy, the marksman offered an interview to AS and talked of his job and what the club will do in order to increase the presence of the academy players at the first team.

Q: Do you see any particularly promising generation?
A: I have to see a lot more, there are still a lot of personal training sessions and we need more to see the players. They only have three days of normal training...

Q: How would you explain to people what exactly an academy director is and his functions?
A: I always say that I was the last signing. Three days after my presentation, the teams were already beginning to train. This year it really is to get an exact idea of everything. My role consists of almost everything, ranging from recruitment, organization, methodology and physical preparation. Establish a path from the smallest to the top and it isn’t that each coach does what he thinks is right. Everyone will have their little details, but we all have to follow the same direction. This academy is practically professional. The children have staff taking care of them, physical trainers, insurance, transportation, wonderful field… we all have to go together, including the parents. They are fundamental in training.

Q: You talk about a way. Is there a certain way to play in all the teams?
A: When I speak of a path, I mean that all teams must play one thing. There cannot be eight teams that play different things, that confuses the children. There must be a common idea, that the children already know what to do when they change team. I am finding very good harmony with the coaches and we have to gather those mentalities and lay the foundations.

Q: What idea does Fran have? A Depor of possession, pressure, counterattack, with a predetermined system, always...
A: It seems ideal to me, but it’s easy to say it, a Depor with pressure upfront and offensive. You dominate and at the same time you put those at the back in delicate situations and that’s a way of growing for them. It's easier to be locked at the back... Teams like Depor, big in their area of influence, tend to be much superior. Sometimes it’s very easy to win. That's why I always say that you don't just compete on the weekend, you compete all week. If we can do that, children will grow up.

Q: Is it a challenge to match Celta? Today their academy is two or three steps ahead.
A: You asked me about my work, that’s also my work. You have to give a boost in the uptake. We must have a greater presence in Galicia. My goals are, first, people from A Coruña and its surroundings. Then from Galicia. And then that anyone coming here does it because is very good or if by the necessity to sign in a certain position. But the base has to be in Galicia because there are very good players.

Q: You spent two years working at Manchester City’s academy. You said you would like to import things here. Which ones?
A: It was a very enriching experience. I spent four months with the U16s and then with the U18s, watching Guardiola train... But it's not so much City, I've also learned by watching Real Madrid training, for example. They all have one thing in common: the level of competitiveness. They compete Monday, Wednesday, Thursday... And they have similar problems, two or three rivals that complicate them and are far superior to the rest. The biggest difference in England is physical preparation. They train there three times more than here, things as they are. They dominate the game and here we have to go in that direction.

Q: Culture of effort?
A: I have already done something in that regard. One of my first measures was to increase the presence of the physical trainer. The ball is fine, but from youngsters you have to start now. Just as there must be a methodology, in physical preparation there must always be a path with one thing clear: the age of maturation in children is never the same. There are juveniles that seem childish and vice versa. The objective is that when they arrive at Fabril or Depor, they will not have to waste time with that child in physical preparation.

Q: Looking up now. Depor have signed Sevilla’s youth player Lara on loan and the young Colombian goalkeeper Lucho García for three years. Isn't it a tough message for the youth players?
A: It isn’t a question of whether it’s a good or bad message. There’s a very clear objective and it’s the promotion and from there, that the academy must work calmly. Here was a way of working in grassroots football, it was changed two years ago, now I'm here... Continuity is needed in a project. What’s the use of Fran or anyone else if in two years the building is destroyed? Once and for all you have to do a longer-term project. If it doesn't work, then have another come along.

Q: Is that why so few people have come out of the academy, and I'm talking about 15 or 20 years, not five?
A: We are all to blame. It isn’t necessary to demand so much from those who are from Abegondo. You have to combine everything, even the child himself. You give him everything, all the facilities. Taxi, masseuse, physiotherapist... You can have a comfort that makes even the child lazy. That’s why I insisted on physical preparation, there you have to make a good jump. Achieve speed, strength, endurance, sacrifice and competitiveness. Here we have, I am not going to say talent and quality. It exists, now we must accompany it with sacrifice. If we achieve that we will have many joys.

Q: Patience is always difficult in football, even in training...
A: I come here mainly to help children. One of the greatest satisfactions is seeing how players you have had reached the elite. I have several teams, but above all it has happened to me at City. When I saw five or six kids called by Guardiola, or Sancho already at Dortmund and see what they are going to pay for them… Or see Phil Foden, Eric García… You can't imagine my joy. Here I want Fabril to be a continuity of what has been done in grassroots football. I would like to see a starting eleven from Fabril, with people from the house. And also, that every year, four or five kids can train with the first team. Our responsibility is that they arrive at the top in optimal physical, tactical and mental conditions. That they are closer to success than to fail.

Q: Now you have mirrors to look at very closely. You, Valerón, Manuel Pablo, Duscher...
A: I always say the same thing. If Fran, Valerón or Duscher have to be there, it is because they are prepared. That we can contribute things, it isn’t worth only with the past. You have to respect the rest of the coaches a lot, there are people who have been pushing very hard. But there is no doubt that the people who have been important in the history of the club, and we are references, well it’s better. But with that nothing is fixed, it is with work. I had a huge responsibility and pressure as a player, but perhaps now I have more.

Q: Why?
A: Because I want all children to have a chance in the future, I see myself reflected in them. When I say an opportunity, I say it because they are offered studies, values and football training. My great goal is not to disappoint the children. That the one who doesn’t make it, make a career at other level, that Depor can be something unique in his life. We know that’ impossible for everyone to reach the first team. The more that arrive, the better. But also the more there are in Segunda , the better; and the more in Segunda B, the better.

Q: When you hang out with El Flaco, Duscher, Donato or Manuel Pablo, do they talk more about the kids or past battles?
A: (Laughter…) In the mornings I always coincide with Valerón and I talk a lot with him. He was an example at Depor, and I love seeing how children enjoy with him. His arrival is a major boost. But between ourselves or with Duscher, we talk mostly about the present, little about the past.

Q: Talking about the past. You are the last ‘one club man’ of Depor. Would you like to see someone take the lead soon?
A: Times have changed a lot. Before there was another feeling towards the clubs. Everything has been globalized and now there are several clubs with brutal economic power. It's complicated. It is no longer when you are a professional, but when they are children that they get very powerful economic offers. It's one of the things that worries me. You do a very good job in the academy and before they are 16 years old, they are taken away only for training rights, paying them real nonsense. It's not good, but it is what it is. When those talents appear here, an effort must be made to retain them or, if not, pay what it really costs.

Q: Is there a strategic plan in this regard?
A: I have been here for a month and we are going to try by all means that it doesn’t happen. The relationship with the environment, parents and giving them affection is very important. But the most important thing is that they see the door open to the first team. That doesn’t mean that anyone will arrive. The child must also feel that, in order to get there, it requires work and sacrifice. You need to excite the kids.

Q: Another leg of this club is the members. There are already more than 13,000 at Segunda B...
A: That was already known. I had no doubt that it would be like this.

Q: A small part, louder than numerous in my opinion, is still suspicious of Fran. How do you feel?
A: In the street I have always felt a lot of affection. I have already said that those who have been offended or hurt, I apologize. We are all human and we can make mistakes.

Q: Is that contract with Real Madrid still haunting you?
A: It isn’t a matter of Madrid. My history at the club is there. And when I go across Spain, people greatly appreciate that I had stayed at Deportivo... here, less. I believe that some press was used in that direction and everything was contaminated. I have had to live that, and that's it. It was never my intention to hurt anyone, least the club. I have always been very honest in my work. It is difficult for a player, with the offers that I had, to be 18 at Depor. There are the Leagues, Cups, years of Europe... There was Madrid, yes. But let's not forget that there was a president here who was the first person interested in me staying here. In the end I think we all win if I stayed. Over time, what that generation of players did will be appreciated. Not only that Fran stayed, so did many others. On these days few players of that great level would stay a lifetime in a club.

Q: They also recriminate you that Nico, your son, is at Barcelona. How is he doing?
A: There were two opportunities for Nico to come to Depor, but they didn't want to or… I don't know. There are people who would never have allowed a player like Nicolás to arrive to Deportivo. And I'm not talking about financial effort. His friends were at Montañeros, they signed several for Depor, and my son wanted to play with them, not with people he didn't know. He said no and the moment came and he decided. He t always has. At 12, 13 and 14. He had an incredible and scandalous offer from a foreign team and decided to stay at Barça. He did it because he was comfortable.

Q: We finish with the theme of summer in A Coruña. What did you think of everything that happened with the Fuenlabrada case?
A: What has been done with Deportivo is not clean, that’s already known. They have played dirty. Everyone knows that they had to stop the whole matchday and play two or three weeks later. It was all a lie. When you decide that a team doesn’t play at the same time, there will be a loss.

Q: What do you think about the fact that La Liga continues to insist on Álex Bergantiños?
A: It is nonsense. It has no reason to exist. There is nothing in that conversation and I don't know if they do it to cover up what they have done. To try to justify what they did with Álex on that day. It’s a shame.

Q: Will Depor be reborn as it did when you started back in the late 80s?
A: I hope, but be careful. I don’t like this Segunda B system at all, especially the final phase of playing knockout games. A detail, an injury, a penalty... It seems very dangerous to me. I liked it much more like it was before. You come first, which should be the goal of Depor, and you see how those who end going up are more or less the ones you expected. To put it wrong, it's very screwed up.

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