July 25, 2021

Five coaches explain the formula of success | It's LaLiga in EL PAÍS

Five coaches explain the formula of success | It's LaLiga in EL PAÍS


All the championships of the last three decades of the last century had a common note. Whatever the champion team was, the winning coach was always a foreigner. Toshack, Valdano, Antic, Capello, Van Gaal and, above all, Beenhakker (three titles for Madrid) and Johan Cruyff (four for Barcelona) marked an era in which success was linked persistently to benches with a foreign accent . At the turn of the century, Deportivo won their first title, led by Jabo Irureta, broke the streak and opened a path that Vicente del Bosque (two titles with Real Madrid) and Rafa Benítez (two others with Valencia) would immediately follow. It was the reflection of a change of trend that has consolidated today. Now, the vast majority of LaLiga Santander trainers are Spanish. Like the last winners of three major tournaments (Spanish, English and French).

Spanish coaches are a reference worldwide. His ideas have marked trends. LaLiga has taken a leap in quality in recent years. The take-off reaches all levels and all levels: from the international recognition of the Spanish championship to the sporting triumphs in all competitions. And the coach here is a fundamental piece of this success.

Today the 20 Mr. of LaLiga Santander speak Spanish (15 Spaniards and 5 Argentines -4 of them trained in our football), a proportion that remains constant, with few variations, in recent years. Of the Argentines from the starting list yesterday Leo Franco fell, dismissed as coach of Huesca. Of the 15, only three (Ernesto Valverde, José Luis Mendilibar and Marcelino García Toral) debuted in the elite before 2010. The rest is part of a new generation forged in an environment very different from that of past decades. The clubs have stopped looking at foreign benches. Sports solutions are at home. The change of model reaches, also, abroad: for years we export talent.

Five coaches consulted for this report, Javier Irureta, Vicente del Bosque, Pepe Mel, Oscar Garcia Junyent and Jose Luis Mendilibar, provide five keys to understand how this national leadership has been reached in the direction of the teams. And why LaLiga Santander offers the richest soccer tactically and technically in the world.

1. The cultural and personal level

Vicente del Bosque: "We have grown culturally and personally. Before only the university level was linked to basketball, right now the number of people in football has increased, inside and outside "

The fact that the player is better trained personally and culturally is one of the keys, among others, that Vicente del Bosque brings to understand the current success of the Spanish coach. "Before, very good coaches came to Spain and we were going to see what was done outside. That, almost, no longer happens, rather it is the other way around. They usually come here, "says Del Bosque, who focuses on the training level of coaches to explain national success. Pablo Machín, current coach of Sevilla and leader of LaLiga Santander, is the coach referred to by the former national coach as an example of today's coach. "There is quarry here. Trainers like Machin appear, all very prepared. It is very difficult for other countries to reach this level. "

Vicente del Bosque.
Vicente del Bosque.

Del Bosque highlights better training, the high level of schools, the integration of disciplines such as psychology, medicine or others that were not previously taught … In the case of former players, says the coach of Real Madrid and the selection, the preparation increases their knowledge and contributes a much greater personal and professional enrichment than in previous times. 12 of the 15 Spanish trainers of LaLiga Santander have less than four years of experience in the elite. All came to the top category after 2014: the majority belongs to the new generation that occupies the benches.

2. More trainers, better trained

Javier Irureta: "Now we are better trained. In my time there was a kind of selectivity and, even, there were many that did not arrive "

Spain prepares high-level coaches and cheaper. This is one of the keys provided by Javier Irureta, the coach who brought four trophies (one League, one Cup and two Super Cups) to the Depor showcases between 2000 and 2002. At that time, the training process changed: it became longer , more open and incorporates more disciplines. "Before, I remember, it took us a long time to get the card. There was a kind of selectivity to be able to access the courses that, moreover, were very limited. Only forty places per year went out. " The entry into schools is democratized with the turn of the century, increases the offer of places and lowers the price of registration … The average cost of the first level card in Spain today is 1,500 (in England it can reach 50,000 euros).

Irureta gives instructions to the players of Deportivo de La Coruña in the 19992000 season, when he was proclaimed the first Spaniard to win LaLiga since 1986.
Irureta gives instructions to the players of Deportivo de La Coruña in the 1999/2000 season, when he was proclaimed the first Spaniard to win LaLiga since 1986.

Professionals of the school of coaches emphasize that "there is no such a demanding model in Europe as here." And they add that in Spain the maximum qualification is required to train both in LaLiga Santander and in the Third Division, "something that does not happen in any other part of Europe". Irureta highlights the contrast between the shortage of places to get the title of coach that was in his time with the "current overpopulation." But it is this high production of increasingly skilled trainers which explains in part another current phenomenon: the export of Spanish technicians to foreign benches.

Pepe Mel: "A very important generation of players has emerged in recent times that has greatly helped the success of the Spanish coach"

3. New generation of footballers

In the nineties it was very strange to see a Spanish player in a foreign competition, as happened for example with Rafael Martín Vázquez when he traveled to Italy and France. There was not the courage to go away and that "limits the knowledge of the player", points now Pepe Mel, coach and writer of novels who retired as a player in France and spent two seasons in the Premier as coach of West Bromwich Albion. Roberto Martínez, current coach of Belgium, is the example of a player trained in England in that period, who returned to Spain to get the title and is now one of the most recognized technicians in the world.

Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui greets Joan Francesc Ferrer 'Rubi', coach of RCD Espanyol, before the game between both teams this season.
Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui greets Joan Francesc Ferrer 'Rubi', coach of RCD Espanyol, before the game between both teams this season.

Mel, who has also been a teacher at the school of trainers, emphasizes that experiences abroad provide knowledge and quality and have an impact on training methods. But it also puts the accent on a new generation of Spanish players with which it is easier to work. "Let's not forget that a very important generation of players has emerged in recent times that has greatly helped the success of the Spanish coach," he says.

Spain has achieved its greatest successes in the 21st century with two European Championships and one World Cup apart from the trophies in lower categories. Mel thinks that "without this generation of athletes would have been much more complicated."

Óscar García Junyent: "Cruyff anticipated things in the training that then happened in the field"

Johan Cruyff's Dream Team is one of the most recognized teams in the history of football. Many technicians recognize that the legacy of the Dutch coach is one of the fundamental pillars to understand the success of Spanish coaches. He created a referential school that lasts until today. From 1990 to 1994 Barcelona won four leagues and the European Cup in 1992 with associative football as a flag. It is in this period when many players leave La Masía, the quarry of Barcelona. From Pep Guardiola, Eusebio Sacristán (current coach of Girona), Txiki Begiristain or Andoni Zubizarreta, the latter as sports directors today (Manchester City and Olympique de Marseille). All trained by Cruyff and ambassadors of his football. That was the seed in a different way of doing things. Pepe Mel abounds about why the Spanish technician boom: "Our football is richer tactically, we manage the strategy much more".

Photo of the Cruyff Dream Team (white, in the center), which has produced a large pool of technicians and sports directors. The Spaniards stand out from left to right: Zubizarreta, Amor, Eusebio, Guardiola, Cristóbal, Bakero, Alexanco, Begiristain and Goikoetxea.
Photo of the Cruyff Dream Team (white, in the center), which has produced a large pool of technicians and sports directors. The Spaniards stand out from left to right: Zubizarreta, Amor, Eusebio, Guardiola, Cristóbal, Bakero, Alexanco, Begiristain and Goikoetxea.

Óscar García Junyent, who debuted in 1993 with Barça, was formed in that period and perfectly represents the profile of coach who was a player in the era of the Dutch coach at the Camp Nou. He recognizes that he has already rejected several offers from La Liga Santander, at the same time that he has already trained in five countries at 45 years of age. When Cruyff died, Óscar García left this emotional letter on social networks: "I became a coach for you, I was very clear that what you had taught me had to give continuity and not keep it for me, it was precisely there, training when I knew that you had physically gone from this life. because you're never going to leave, the geniuses never leave. "

5. The assessment of the national coach

José Luis Mendilibar: "Through the success of Guardiola, what has been done is to bet more for people in the house"

José Luis Mendilibar has been training since 1994 although he did not reach LaLiga until the 2005 season with Athletic Bilbao. Eibar's current coach is one of the oldest in the competition. Mendilibar feels that the Spanish coach has won the confidence of the club leaders and attributes much of that merit to Pep Guardiola, the first Spanish coach to win the Premier League. "His success is what made him bet on people in the house. And that means that in the end there are more national coaches with experience in the First Division and that gives us a lot. " There is a domino effect. Not only, as Pepe Mel points out, "soccer is a matter of fashion" and of triumphs. "Now everyone wants to play as Guardiola's teams do or as the national team did," Pepe Mel concludes.



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