Jose Couceiro: We are only two months old

Jose Couceiro: We are only two months old
Head coach of FC Lokomotiv Jose Couceiro has given an interview to the Sport-Express newspaper.

On the training – like on the feast

- Frankly speaking, in Russia not so many people could suggest, that your debut in Lokomotiv will be so successful. This result is a consequence of right decisions or and piece of luck as well?

- Thanks to luck you can play well in one-two games, but not in five and ten. I don`t want to assert that I`m the reason of our last results – team wins on the pitch always. But I think I have explained to the players one very important thing: they`re professionals, who know their business very well. You know when I just came to Russia I was very surprised, that many players underestimate their strength and don`t believe in the team enough. They came in to games with a thought: “Possibly we loose today”. But if you just think that way for a few seconds, you will definitely lost. Happily now players have understood it and go to the pitch with another mood. All the team, not only one. Surely, two month – a very short period to make conclusions. We use every game for getting accustomed to each other better and better and I`m satisfied how the team treat to business.

- What were your expectations when you just had received an offer from Moscow?

- They corresponded to the picture that I have watched here. I knew that Lokomotiv is a big club with a serious potential, which faced with a few difficulties in the last years. I knew that coaches and the board were being changed often and it was lack of stability here. I`ve got a quite simple task – to overcome the situation. I had to “restart’ the system for two weeks. It was very important to win in Krasnoyarsk, because in the previous year team lost on that stage of national cup. And I think our win in Krasnoyarsk inspired us with confidence and let see in the future with optimism.

- Did you have a concrete task?

- We have to be in top eight after 30 games and then to finish in eurocups zone. On the fifth place as minimum.

- Is it the task that board set you?

- No I set this task by myself. In the first days of my acquaintance with Russian football I had understood approximately which task we can do on this stage. There are Zenit, CSKA, Dynamo and Rubin. And there are Spartak, Anzhi, Kuban and Krasnodar. There are teams which fight the main battle. Strong company, where we want to occupy a worthy place. By the way I have set one more task for myself in Lokomotiv.

- Which one?

- To make that each training have become for players one of the most pleasant events during the day. They don`t have to come in the camp like to hard labour. It`s not a prison! If everybody in the team understands that it`s a big happiness – to do your favourite business, we will be able to remove any mountains.

- And are you successful with this?

- I think yes. The main indicator – victories of the team. When I say team I mean not only the players, but all the people who are participating in our life: president, coaches, staff…   
- Zenit will become for you the first serious test in Lokomotiv.

- I wouldn`t say like this. For us it will be just one more game. We respect Zenit, Lucano Spalletti and his players, but the name of the opponent can`t be the supplementary motivation for us. Special challenge? I can`t agree. Considering objective assessment of our chances I`m a realist. Zenit have been playing with this squad and with this coach for two years already, we – two months. It means a lot.

- Are you waiting for preseason training camps when you will be able to prepare the team as you wish?

- Training camps will be only in January and now my head is full of other, more urgent problems. We are faced with difficult autumn, after which we should qualify for the next round of Europa League.

Ozdoev plays like if he is 25 years old

- Many supporters are surprised of your knowledge’s of Lokomotiv history and the whole Russian football. Did you prepare yourself specially?

- Surely, it`s a part of my job. When you come to a new country, you have to prepare yourself for meeting with its culture, traditions, people as good as it`s possible. I`m a Portuguese, I have another mentality. To make my adaptation here trouble-free I have to know a lot of new for me. I need any information – and not only about football, about all. I don`t want to feel myself as a stranger. In addition I have to be an example for my players. In Lokomotiv there are many foreign players, who also have to adapt in a new country. For the present I`m just in the beginning of the way.

- Studying Russian, where you already have not bad results, is a part of adaptation as well?

- Surely. I want to understand everything, that happens around me, what people say about, what does worry them, how Moscow lives. It`s useful both for my work and for my life.  

- Where have you chosen the apartment in Moscow, by the way?

- Not far from English-American school, where my youngest daughter studies.

- Your family feel themselves comfortably in Moscow?

- Now yes. However in the beginning there were a lot of fears, which were born from uncertainty. Our next challenge – winter. Thankfully, it`s far to it.

- You mentioned different mentalities. What did surprise you most of all in our actual?

- Strange reaction for results. When people win they feel it like if they have won in Champions League. And on other hand every defeat – like a relegation to the second division. Too much emotions, only black or white – no halftones. In my opinion it is not correct. You need balance. Quite the same I faced in Lithuania national team.

- So Russia and Lithuania are similar?

- Not at all.

- In details, please?

- Let`s take Lithuania. I have a lot of pleasant recollections after work with their national team, there are now questions. Bur speaking about Lithuanian club`s football… it, in comparison with Russian, is located on a very low level. National team isn`t a top team as well, but for all that it`s competitive. Players, honour and praise to them, fight for honour of their country. Your team has a massive football potential. Considering that you host World Cup 2018 you have a big future.

- So we should wait the happiness for 7 years?

- It depends on clubs. Than more they will trust to Russian players, than faster country will get a result. It is necessary to play with Russians suitably.

- Franlkly speaking, I didn’t expect to hear such words from you.

- Why?

- Many people thought, that you will rely on foreign players.

- Even if I wanted I can`t do it – it`s very strict limit in Russia.

- How can you estimate young Russian players of Lokomotiv?

- Not bad. I think Lokomotiv made a good job with the second team which shows quite good results. From time to time I try to make combined trainings and games First team – Second team. Now there are 4-5 players in the youth team, who can become a part of the First team very soon. They have a good example – Maga (Ozdoev). He is very wise for his age. In the life he is 18 years old, but on the pitch he is 24-25 years old.

I study players not to loose their heads

- What is the main difference between Russian and European football in your opinion?

- Comparing with Portugal, the first difference is, surely, weather. It is obvious fact but many people underestimate it. In Russia there are simply fewer days for training process. In Portugal it`s possible to play football the whole year, in Russia – only half of the year. But there is one more difference which is very characteristic in my opinion.

- Which one?  

- I`ve already said about it – in Russia emotions manage the process. And this fact first of all considering football. Your teams loose control of the game, while Portuguese keep it all 90 minutes. What for to work up? The head should be cold! However I told the same words to the players before the second game in Trnava: keep control and in this case the opponent early or lately will loose their heads.

- And it`s happened like this.

- Exactly! And it was good for us. When emotions overfill you, it`s more difficult to achieve a good result.    

- I always thought that emotions distinguish players from Portugal, Spain and Italy.

- It`s a stereotype, but it`s not true. Russians, for a wonder, are more emotional people.

- Does it complicate your work?

- No, it`s just one of its aspects.

Let`s play on Mondays!

- The head coach of Russian national team Dick Advocaat said one time, that the biggest problem of our football, to his opinion, is very poor infrastructure. Are you agree with him?

- Surely. These words are particularly correct when we speak about regions. I was been in Krasnoyarsk, Nizhniy Novgorod, Rostov and difference with Moscow is very huge. However people in these cities love football not less than in capital. I felt that. Surely their favourite clubs are in need of serious investments to put themselves in order. I think by 2018 everything will be ok with this.

- As I know, in your opinion our other misfortune is schedule.

- Never mind it. I simply don`t understand why there are no matches on Mondays? After Trnava and before Kuban we had only 15 hours for rest between two flights. For me it seems like  not enough.

- But in England, where some clubs participate in 4 tournaments, it`s not the same?

- Firstly there are not so big distances in England and secondly they play some matches on Mondays.

Sychev have to calm down

- Lokomotiv was criticized this summer for buying players with a doubtful reputation. Particularly I mean Da Costa…

- I think Manuel, like and other players, will answer all critics on the pitch. I have no problems with new players, and I treat to them in the same way like and to other players. I respect right for private life for players. Any person, even the most correct, makes mistakes. I like a head coach can speak with a player, give him friendly advise. But for his actions outside the pitch he should report to other people. I`m interested in how the player can help to the team.

- Did you work with Zapater in Sporting?

- Yes.  

- That work had stuck in your memory so strongly, that you decided to invite Zapater in Lokomotiv?

- Zapater is a real team player. He is not a playmaker, not a man of episode, but in a good meaning he is a workhorse. We needed such kind of player. Now he, like Da Costa, Obinna and Kaicedo as well, needs time to recover his best conditions. They all came from Europe where season just starts, while in Russia championship started in spring. In addition don`t forget about adaptation.

- How do you build your relations with the captain of the team Loskov?

- Dmitriy undoubtedly has the biggest authority in the team. It`s important for me and for other players. It`s great when there are people in the club who incarnate glorious previous times. But it`s important as well, that Loskov and now do good on the pitch.

- Many years Dmitriy Sychev was considered as the main talent of Russian football. Is it really that he will never return to his previous level?

- Sychev is a good player, who didn`t have enough confidence in himself recently. In my opinion, he starts step by step to regain it now. In Trnava he was one of the best in our team, granted us a penalty kick. All that he needs – two-three matches, where he will score. And the most important – спокойно (this word Couceiro speaks in Russian). Excess stir will only hinder him.   

All the Portugueses are proud of Mourinho successes

- Why your relations with Sporting were so short-term?

- Because after elections new president was being appointed ant almost all the board had changed. I came to the club in January and in March these reforms had happened. I was offered to head the academy, but I refused.

- Are you acquainted with Jose Mourinho?

- Yes, though I can`t say that we had very close relations. Once or twice we got in the touch by phone or by sms about business questions, no more.

- Mourinho in a usual life and Mourinho in newspapers: there are two different mans?

- I think yes. But it will be better for you to ask this questions my assistant Edgaras Jankauskas, who played under Mourinho`s direction.

- In whole what do you think about Mourinho?

- Possibly you will be surprised but all Portuguese coaches perceive his successes how their own. If he wins all Portugal wins. In this case attention to our country, our football our coaching school increases. It`s very important.

- When your national team will win the World Cup finally?

- I would like to know it! For a small country with population 10 million people it`s quite difficult task.  Though our land, surely, is rich in talents. But we have to find a right use for them.

Michels is an ideal

- Your favourite tactics?

- 4-3-3.

- The best player of all the countries and times?

- I think Pele.

- The best coach?

- Each era has its own heroes. I would say Rinus Michels, who was an icon in my childhood. In 70-s nobody could compare with him.

- Favourite team?

- Holland-1974.

- Favourite music?

- Quality rock, - Couceiro took his ipod and shown its content. - The Doors, U2, Rolling Stones, Queen, Black Sabbath, The Clash…

- The Clash? So you are punk!

- Well, not in full. My favourite album of this group – London Calling. It`s the least punkrock`s.

- In the food you as well prefer something like this?

- No, there is no exotic. I adore fish from Atlantic.

- River fish according to best traditions of Pyrenean hidalgos you ignore?

- It has absolutely another taste.

- Benfica or Sporting?

- Sporting!

- Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?

- I would put them on different wings of the same team.

- Barcelona or Real Madrid?

- Barcelona.

- The most important thing in the life?

- Health, family and friends.

09 September 2011

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