“I’ve signed until… I hope I’ll be here for many years”

What did you learn in your years as José Mourinho’s assistant?

Tactically you always learn, both from José and from others, from watching games. But from José what gave me the push to be able to train was the honesty in how he speaks to the players. In my stage as a footballer there were coaches who told you how good you were and then you never played. And I didn’t want that to happen to me. Group management was difficult for me and with José you realize that there is no better virtue than honesty. There are times that the player will not understand you or will not like what you say. But later he will realize that what he is told is true and not that he has been deceived. We have a good relationship. It’s what football has and what the people you know have given me: the friendships you make and that you really know people. Not knowing people leads to mistakes, the relationship that unites us with him, Silvino, Morais, Rui (the Portuguese team) goes beyond that of a simple coaching staff.

Shield/Flag Grenada

What is your concept of football?

A team must have the character of its coach. There is no better sign than a team being like its coach. My hallmark is a bit of what was seen the other day (against Atlético). Very little because you still have to see more. A committed and organized team, if the coach leads you to that, and with the quality that is here, confidently play the best possible football. An organized, committed team that is capable of creating danger to the opposition when they have the ball.

What applies to your experience as a footballer?

Without a project I would not have come. The first thing is to have a good feeling with the people at the club where I am going to sign. Without a football conversation, a project and people behind it, I don’t even raise it

Aitor Karanka

It helps above all to try to understand situations that you have experienced. If you haven’t experienced them, it’s difficult. It is true that I have not been in this situation, but there have been mutations of pressure to win titles. But I have the experience when I returned to Athletic from Real Madrid with three Champions Leagues. After five years you want to prove everything you are. You want to take the corner and finish it off and you yourself enter a state of anxiety that until you realize it and stop and think about it you will not give up. When you arrive in a locker room with this state of anxiety and mistrust, those experiences help direct it and then you also tell them about your experiences.

How long have you signed for?

I’ve signed until…hopefully I’ll be here for many years. (Neither the coach nor the club have wanted to specify the duration or conditions of the contract).

FOOTBALL 21/22The Granada coach in front of the team’s shield.

Do you believe in a good project?

Otherwise, I wouldn’t have come. The first thing is to have a good feeling with the people at the club where I am going to sign. Without a football conversation, a project and people behind it, I wouldn’t even consider it. Where I go I have to be comfortable and that people row in the same direction. At the time I met Pep (Boada, the sports director) and David (Pelaez, attached to the club’s sports management) I saw a project behind, I’ve known the club for years and that’s why I decided to come. I don’t come without a project, I’m not one to come to stay for a month and get to know the city. I hope to be many years, but well.

In case of relegation, would you consider continuing here?

I don’t like the finals. Finals are won or lost and there is no going back. Winning or losing against Celta we have, not four finals but four more lives

Aitor Karanka

It is a scenario that I do not consider. Within my experiences when you are younger you wear yourself out so much with the “and if this happens, and if the other happens…” it can condition the present. I prefer to think about Celta and then about Mallorca. Thinking about tomorrow’s session and the player going home saying: “well, we’ve taken one more step. We have learned this, or we did this wrong and we have to improve”.

Do you consider yourself a good psychologist? Do you talk one to one with the players?

I’m doing. It is fundamental, what we talk about having been played and telling the experiences can be done individually or with the group. I have been a defender, but in the end you are a footballer. We have breathed the same, we have lived the same and what I want to transmit to the group is also to the player. It’s hard to do one on one with 30 players in a month. The coach makes decisions that if you don’t talk to the player you can make a mistake. It is not the same to ask a player “how are you?” and tell you: “I’m full” or remain hesitant. The best of all is that in the individual talks the predisposition of everything is incredible.

Karanka has proven to be a good project initiator in the teams where he has been.

Anyone who doesn’t like Guardiola… Pep has been training for I don’t know how many years. I have been lucky and unlucky to play against him. He demands the best of you.

Aitor Karanka.

When I go to the sites what I want is to create something that lasts over time. The coaches passed. I left Middlesbrough. When I arrived in Nottingham in the first market in January we had to change ten players on the last day. Ten players left and eleven entered. Many times the coach is talked about, but behind the coach there are people who work at the club and it’s complicated. In Birmingham, with the issue of the pandemic and not being there, the fans took their toll. I like to create a project because I want everyone to be involved. I said it when I was at Middlesbrough that the president was just as important as the prop man. And the prop man came the poor thing the next day and he said to me: “how do you say this?” It is what I want, that all those who work in the club be part of the good things.

Although he is in favor of the players eating together in the club’s facilities, we have read that he is not particularly pejigero with the control of meals.

That’s what nutritionists who have studied are for. The day of nutrition I did not go to class. I can’t go to Middlesbrough and change their habits or come here and change all their habits, I have to conform to them. You have to adjust to where you’re going. Both in England and here. I have found a medical department, a nutritionist who has everything very well and some cooks who cook wonderfully so telling the players to stay here is not only good for socializing but also for eating well.

And the videos. He thoroughly studies rivals.

I like very much. There are more and more styles and systems. On the pitch you work on what you want to do with the ball and how to act, but it’s not the same playing against Celta, Barcelona or Real Madrid, each game requires a few things always with a base thinking about my team and what we can do well.

He has five finals left.

No. I don’t like the finals. Finals are won or lost and there is no going back. Winning or losing against Celta we have not four finals but four more lives. There are five matches to be won. And if you don’t win one, nothing happens. Talking about endings in a state of anxiety would be even worse. It wouldn’t be good for anyone. On the contrary, it’s an important game, but you don’t have to give him more than he has.

Have you detected in the city more illusion with the team since your arrival?

I have not gone out, I have only been able to see a municipal police officer who scared me at a traffic light thinking that I had done something else and told me that good luck and good luck and that the people are with the team. He reflected to me the state of the city.

Are you one of those who likes to pull from the quarry?

It’s like everything, depending on how you look at it, it’s a handicap or an opportunity for them. I made my debut at the age of 19 in the First Division, some see a handicap and others an opportunity. The same three players like Brau, Barcia or Pepe could be a brown or it could be that next year they will be first team defenders. For those who decide for Sunday to see it as an opportunity. More confidence and that they are as calm as possible knowing that it is First. If it were them, I who made my debut at 19 years old, I saw it more as an opportunity than as a brown.

How do you see the Spanish League?

Since I left her ten years ago, more even. Those years Madrid and Barça won almost every game and now there is more equality. It is not unreasonable to think that we are going to beat Celta or Betis, who have just won the Cup. In a match, the Spanish League has a great equality.

Is the English league stronger than the Spanish one?

The competition that is the Champions there are two Spaniards and two English. They are the most powerful. The economic issue is obvious and another reason is that you have the power to sign the best players and another thing is that being there it is difficult to understand the intensity with which those games are played. Sometimes I’ve been on the bench and the atmosphere and fans and you see that the player, when he can’t take it anymore, takes another ten or fifteen minutes of maximum intensity. The economic power that he has now and that intensity. Liverpool against Villarreal. And Manchester City, who could sentence the tie, will play it at the Bernabéu.

Do you like Guardiola?

Anyone who doesn’t like Guardiola… Pep has been training for I don’t know how many years. I have been lucky and unlucky to play against him. He demands the best of you. I was lucky to draw with them in Premier at the last minute at the Ethihad. A newly promoted player like us drawing with that Manchester City… is one of the best memories I have. But I also have the Cup with Birmingham that in the 18th minute we lost 3-0. I looked at Peo and told her, change something! Before the game, when I saw the lineup and went to say hello. I told him that he could have put on a juvenile and he looked at me as if to say: “you’re going to give us a hard time”. That’s the best. You have earned that respect that he had for us and with the line-up he shows it to me. At the end of the game I thanked him because at the break he made three or four changes and in the end it was only 3-0. See Pep’s team play and the transformation from what it was at Barça to what it is now. That intensity, those transitions… that evolution that he has had. Whoever likes football has to like it.

A third time with him must be exciting.

In the end it’s about football. He also has people with whom I have met. I have known Lorenzo Buenaventura (physical trainer) for many years, Xabi (Mancisidor, goalkeeping coach), Rodolfo (Borrell, assistant coach), Juanma (Lillo, Guardiola’s assistant)… when you talk about football it is good for everyone .

Did you have the illusion of training in Spain?

Yes, because it’s been many years in England but my playing career was here, assistant I started here, I was in the Spanish National Team… where you want to try it is here and it is appreciated to be able to do the interviews and press conference in your language, transmit to the players in your language. It makes a lot easier. There may be misunderstandings, but on top of that, if it is not your language, there may be more.