Wednesday, 23 January 2008

A man of few words

A recent article in El País sheds a little light into the kind of coach Bernd Schuster is at Real Madrid. Since joining the club last July his public statements to the press have been characterised by his heavy use of irony and off-the-cuff pronouncements. He is often misinterpreted by the press, probably intentionally, but essentially he remains a fairly enigmatic character. Las Saturday, before the local derby against Atlético he was asked about his lack of humility. "I am very humble," he said "otherwise I would have never become so great."

And yet with the players he's a different man. He will goad them to get the best out of them, but they seem to be clear on why he says what he says, however seldom that is. He gets involved during the training matches, leaving the running of the session to Manolo Ruiz, his second in command. Schuster will get involved in tackles and gets tackled, sometimes hard, but he still says very little. And yet, sometimes he'll thread an inch-perfect pass that reminds those old enough to remember of his playing days and earns his players' respect.

His tactics talks are short and to the point, like Capello's, but there the similarities end. Where Capello did not really trust Robinho, Schuster made a point of selecting him even after the wild partying allegations in Brazil last October. The military discipline at the club has been replaced by a more permissive approach: the players can wear what they like, bring their mobiles into the dressing room, listen to whatever music they want to. Robinho has blossomed this year. As Tim Stannard says, he's 57 times the footballer he was.

"There's a little more happiness around," says Marcelo. "Capello was tougher, more defensive-minded. Schuster wants us to play for the fans. And the fans want to see Robinho do his step-overs".

He leaves most of the set play tactics and communication of player responsibilities to Manolo Ruiz. Schuster own take on what his real job is that "the main task of a Real Madrid manager is as psychologist".


Elisa said...

Thanks for sharing this informative article.

How ya doing Gonzalo?

Elisa from FF

Laraine said...

Good post.