“How is your group after Tuesday night’s defeat against Frankfurt (0:1)?” Was it necessary to dramatize the situation?
There was no need to make light of it. The team is calm, positive, in a good mental and psychological period. Defeats are part of the game, especially in the Champions League. To succeed in this venture and take points, you have to be almost perfect at all times, not missing anything, have a bit of luck, not have injuries or problems in the lineup – what we experienced in defense…
“I believe in what I do, I apply it in my work and in my personal life”
It’s the highest level, we tried everything, we played well, it wasn’t enough. That doesn’t mean it won’t be enough for the next four C1 matches. I see a motivated and focused group. Rennes is the last game of this tour de force. We want to finish in style and have a good home game to stay where we are, top of the table.
You come from an Italian coaching culture known for its tactical discipline and strictness. What share of creativity, freedom, excess functionality do you leave to your players?
I’m not Italian, I’m Croatian! Putting Italian football, Spanish football, French football in boxes… it doesn’t exist. Italian coaches practice catenaccio, others attack thoroughly. In 2022, we can talk about the coach’s specific game, not the country’s cultural style. The quality of a coach is to understand what he can transfer from his football to the players in his possession. As for the freedom part, it is a mix between structure and freedom. Structure should never be missing. There is necessarily more freedom in attack and more rigor in defense.
How would you describe your coaching method, in substance and form? What are your inspirations?
It is difficult to copy a specific person, we will take a little right, left. Along his journey, we pick up aspects that we like and adapt it all to his own personality. At 45, I am still trying to understand who I am and how I work. One thing characterizes me: I believe in hierarchy, everyone must do their job as they should, and not others… If we respect that, I stay calm, I can be kinder, more worthy.
When I want to change things because I don’t think they’re being done the right way, it can create tension. If a player has been doing his job a certain way for years and I explain to him that I don’t agree, it can cause problems. But I believe in what I do, I apply it in my work and in my personal life.
Gerson’s behavior when he was substituted against Frankfurt angered many supporters. More generally, how do you find it? Is it 100% invested?
He can and must be better and I’m sure he will. He is a good boy with a pure soul, he is sensitive, he is a unique character. He played a lot and I will play him again. He is a strong player, important for us.
What do you think of Bamba Dieng? How is he physically and morally after a complicated summer? Are you finally counting on him?
He actually had a complicated summer, that’s the word. He is a wonderful, kind person, he is as good as good bread. He trains with us and is now part of the group. »