The sports directors of Spanish football repeated with amazement that Cádiz had been promoted to First, last summer, without having a technically qualified squad.
They attributed the feat to the magical atmosphere created by their hidden coach, Álvaro Cervera (Malabo, Equatorial Guinea; 55 years old).
A year later, Cádiz receives Madrid (10:00 p.m., Movistar) with almost guaranteed permanence after having passed through LaLiga, leaving a deep countercultural mark.
What do you think of the Super League?
I don't have much information on the subject.
What led you to be a professional footballer?
I always wanted to be a soccer player because I always liked soccer.
But when you are young you don't know what it is to be a footballer.
For you, being a footballer is playing soccer, being on TV.
But you don't know what this profession entails.
I liked to play and compete since I was little.
Whenever he came down from home he did it with a ball at his feet.
Soccer maybe I liked a lot more than now.
Few coaches have been pure wingers like you.
Didn't you understand the game until you were a coach?
No. I think I have always understood the game.
What I did not understand was what and why it is played.
Before I did it for pure pleasure, and to earn money, because I liked the life of the footballer, with a lot of free time.
As a player you may not have been aware of how important the score was.
I thought that if he lost there would always be one more chance in the next game.
As a coach, no.
Extremes need to live in risk to be effective.
Doesn't it seem like a contradiction to you that after having made a career based on risk, now as a coach you worry about minimizing risk?
One day I went to a talk about sports and drugs. Psychologists and doctors spoke, but the one who interested me to speak was the one who had been a drug addict, because that one was going to give me the truth. This is a bit the same. I have known attacking football, happy football. I have played with Hiddink at Valencia. But I have also learned that we really didn't gain anything from that. In my house I don't have any trophies. I want to make footballers see that this is the football that will make them speak well of you one day but it is not the one that will make you win money and titles. This is what happens to Simeone at Atlético. Another can make him play more beautiful but I am convinced that he would not have it where he has it.
Do you think this pattern so academic and deeply rooted in Spain, of going out playing with the goalkeeper, spreading the wings, that the centrals touch it and that the playmaker offers himself that it can lead to confusion?
Our coaching staff is good at one thing: from the moment the players arrive at the club, we meet with them to insist on everything they have left over. Because the players have many things left over. All Primera players have good things. If we can score out of ten, surely they have four good things, but they try to do seven, and between four and seven there are three bad. We want them to do three of four, or four good ones, but not eight or nine. Because we would all be making mistakes. Players end up understanding that it is not necessary to do so much. It is much simpler. Either they take away the things that they do wrong or the one who takes them away is me because they would be harmed first, and then the team.
Cádiz was Magic, the Mejías brothers, the Silver Cup, the nice team that wins 5-2 and loses 3-4… And I really am not that.
I am a very orderly person.
Clutter upsets me
What excites you most about your job?
What really hooks me is the possibility of seeing 25 kids between 20 and 30 years old, trying to speak to them in the same language they speak, and trying to make them understand the one I speak.
If I had to train people my age, I might not be so passionate about it.
says that they were about to throw him out of Cádiz until one day he stopped seeking the approval of the people and decided to be true to himself, coinciding with the trip to Jaén to play the
for promotion to Second in 2016. How did you do you give up popular recognition in the age of social media?
I didn't train for a year and Cádiz called me. It is not the same as when another team calls you. Cádiz was Magic, the Mejías brothers, the Silver Cup, the nice team that wins 5-2 and loses 3-4… And I really am not that. I am a very orderly person. Clutter upsets me. What I do not control does not let me work. But the possibility of Cádiz arises to me and I came thinking that I would have to let the river flow, and in the end things would go well because there are good players. And I realize that that is not enough. That you have to take a turn. And that game came from Jaén where I was more outside than inside, and I remember that I stood in front of the players and instead of the game talk I told them a story. I said: “Gentlemen, from this point on, it has to change towards where I think it has to change.We have to stop trying to do things right and we have to start to stop doing things wrong ”. In those seven games there was growth for something that I believe in life. Doing things well is very nice, I love watching Manchester City games, but I'm not capable of making teams play like that. I am capable of doing something else. The players saw that it was an extreme situation and said: "Let's try to listen to this crazy man, let's see." And we were lucky enough to win five games in a row and receive only one goal in theI am capable of doing something else. The players saw that it was an extreme situation and said: "Let's try to listen to this crazy man, let's see." And we were lucky enough to win five games in a row and receive only one goal in theI am capable of doing something else. The players saw that it was an extreme situation and said: "Let's try to listen to this crazy man, let's see." And we were lucky enough to win five games in a row and receive only one goal in the
And from there I think I got the recognition, especially from the players.
Was the key in the story?
The key is not the football tactics that I give them but the way of life that we lead.
In terms of football we are recognizable by the simplicity.
But where we are complicated is inside the door: we get along too well with each other, we help each other too much.
That story gave us the key to discover that we did not have to talk perhaps so much about football but rather about camaraderie, solidarity, friendship, for this to work.
What did the story say?
The conclusion was: “Look kids, what we need is in us;
the problem is that we don't take it out.
I do not know.
But what we need to win we carry within us as the child who is born has one heart and the one who sees has two eyes.
But there is something that keeps us from taking it out and perhaps it is complexity.
I am going to give you a formula.
We are going to make everything simpler and that this simplicity helps us little by little to bring out what we carry inside.
We don't want to be the funniest from one day to the next ”.
Xavi Hernández, the best player in the history of Spain, was not an artist, nor a dribbler, nor did he make watermarks.
Football is pass-control, pass-control, until that ball reaches Messi, Benzema, Cristiano, Neymar… The rest is pass-control.
But that control-pass is infinitely difficult
Neither Busquets, Pedri, Modric… Football is control-pass, control-pass, until that ball reaches Messi, Benzema, Cristiano, Neymar… The rest is control-pass. But that control-pass is infinitely difficult. It seems easy but it is a movement, a control and a pass, and there are players who do it very well because they take the ball to those who decide the games. But not all passes are important. Giving 30 passes 40 meters from my goal does not have to make me go out because it is surely what the rival is looking for. I always tell them: "Not all countries are important, we have to go to the important ones, not to the others, let them do them without problems." If we were a basketball team we would defend in the zone. The higher we have gone to press, the more goals we have received.All teams have players who receive the ball in a designated place and there they hurt you. All teams have virtues, something that is systematically repeated in every game. That is what you have to avoid. Genius can't be helped. If Messi puts it on you from outside the area, you can't do anything.
What do you mean when you define Cádiz as a messy team?
In Spain we recognize those teams and Cádiz is one of them.
You can spend a year in First, five in Second, then go down to Second B ... Here in the same province you find sun, mountains, sea ... fun at Carnival, seriousness at Holy Week ... In Cádiz you can do everything you want. win.
And when you have everything it is difficult to order it.
And a person like me, an orderly uncle, arrives in a city that awaits the goblin.
And he is still waiting for it ... Cádiz still wants to see surely the one that I do not put, because he is the skilled player, the destabilizing one and such.
I am allowed to do it because I have won.
But the one who orders a lot ends up getting tired.
As I said, I am in Cádiz because of my order, and my order will kick me out of Cádiz.
How do you make a team that lives by order play with so much heart?
The day we lose that, Cádiz will return to the place where I took it. We have managed to create a link between the dressing room, the fans who recognize the efforts of the players, and the players who are recognized not only for what they do with the ball but also for what they do without it. We go against nature. But what we are looking for is that Cádiz can be recognized by Mágico and the Mejías brothers and by those who play with courage and the desire to defend with the feeling they have for this club. The feeling has been lost in football. Soccer today belongs to anyone. A team can be of a Chinese. But we cannot lose sight of the fact that we are defending a city. Not just anyone can come to this team. That is a mistake we have made:We brought in players because they played football well and what they really did is make us worse because they only played football well, and just playing football well is not worth us.
We often play to make few things happen.
I understand the people who watch the games.
But they must not forget that their fun is my work
Is it one thing to have technique and class and another to play football well?
In First there are many players with class.
But attacking a lot all the time, having the ball, and the opposing goalkeeper not making a stop is not playing well.
Defend a lot, go back against a team that is better than you, and that your goalkeeper does not have to make a stop if it is to play football well.
You have developed a philosophy of error. If they reach your area and finish you off, is it only because your team has made a mistake?
Most of the goal plays come from an error.
Sometimes they are
, like a bad center in the opposite area that is cleared or controlled and they take one against you. That is not a mistake, really. But most of the goals come from an error by the team that has the ball. I do not know if in all that we have in the league there have been two or three goals in which the ball has been taken from behind, it has reached the opposite goal and it has been scored. If there are, one will be from Barcelona and the other from Madrid. Goals usually come from mistakes, even with the opposing team having the ball. For example, the opponent clears and you make the mistake of going to jump where you should not, and in the end the opponent you left behind catches it. We analyze all these things a lot, because a team like ours gets more out of making few mistakes than getting it right.
Do the most dangerous mistakes occur with or without the ball?
The errors when you do not have the ball I have to solve as a coach.
I have to position my team, tell them where the opponent is good, which player is good, where they like to receive ... Ball errors depend a bit on your players and also on whether the opponent is good defensively.
The less things happen on a playing field, the more calm you have?
We often play to make few things happen.
I understand the people who watch the games.
But they must not forget that their fun is my work: it is like going to the circus and telling the trapeze artist not to put the net underneath.
"Hey, I'm going to put it on because if I fall I'll kill myself."
This is the same.
In many games I like that nothing happens.
In others I like things to happen, because I think I can do more danger than the opposite, or because I am losing, and then I generate something so that things happen.
With Benzema and Kroos, Madrid has a better chance of losing.
With Casemiro they will have the same chances of winning but they will have many, much less of losing
Cádiz has not won a game in this League after conceding the first goal.
Going behind on the scoreboard is bad for us.
Because we have to make more changes than we want to be able to generate something with the ball, because our control-passing is not as agile as it should be, and because the coach little by little tries to be better every day.
You say that they train with joy not to have the ball.
However, he works with a generation of young people raised in the contemplation of Messi's Barça and Xavi's selection.
Are they more difficult to convince that they have to spend the game swinging, making lateral movements, closing passing lanes, rather than having the ball?
That has been a problem, because we have players who like to have the ball, who are happy with the ball. And we have had players who like to have the ball and that when we do not have it, others are the ones who do the work for them. And we must not allow that. Everyone wants to have the ball but everyone must also get it back. Everything is in the result. I would not have lasted five years in Cádiz if the things that I demand did not work. In the end the team is in First Division, the players earn much more money than before, they are more valued, they are happier, and all that leads them to run after the ball if we have to. The result enables me to force them. The day that there are no results I will have a big problem.
How do you get Cádiz to make so few fouls with so little on the ball?
We bring that from Second B. In Second B and Second, the attackers make more mistakes and it is easier to defend without fouls. In First it is more complicated because the players make less mistakes. For example: a winger who is going to cross usually has the center forward and one or two more arriving. If necessary, you transform the play: you leave the ball in the same place, facing the one who crosses and with six rivals in your area. There are situations in which you do not have to make mistakes. We are obliged not to do them because there are many goals from set pieces. Opponents who are on their backs, or against the touchline, or who jump head first in midfield, you have to leave them because they usually never go anywhere. Between acting and being necessary or not acting, we prefer not to act.
Why does Casemiro seem more important than Benzema or Kroos?
Because I think that with Benzema and Kroos the team has a better chance of losing.
With Casemiro they will have the same chances of winning but they will have many, much less to lose.
We played in Valdebebas against Madrid and the first half played Kroos and Modric with Isco in front and without Casemiro, and we had the best first part of the year.
At half-time they told me that Casemiro was leaving and I knew perfectly well that we were not going to be able to reach the goal.
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