Granada’s Diego Martinez has Man United in his sights after working magic at tiny La Liga membership

Granada’s Diego Martinez has Man United in his sights after working magic at tiny La Liga membership

For a second, Granada supervisor Diego Martínez is a child once more. Greater than a second, in truth; the keenness that overflows with the reminiscences is similar enthusiasm that drives him day by day. If he’s a football supervisor now, it’s as a result of he was obsessive about football then. It’s as a result of he nonetheless is. And so right here he’s at Granada’s coaching floor, and there he’s too: in Galicia, a small boy surrounded by stickers, the faces and names that shaped him.

“My aunt had a [news stand],” he says, “and he or she would save me all of the stuff. I would sit there with all these copies of Don Balon only for me. All of the stickers. The sports activities papers. These league information books.”

“I bear in mind Italia ’90, I feel that is my first World Cup,” he says and he is off once more, football flooding again, an hour flying by within the firm of the impossibly enthusiastic man whose team faces Manchester United this week.

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Granada are Spanish football’s nice revelation and because the youngest coach in primera, Diego Martínez introduced Granada from the second division to the Europa League quarterfinals. Born in Vigo in 1980, he has come a good distance, and now he is going again once more to the place it began, which can be the easiest way to elucidate how all this occurred and why.

There’s a second when he’s speaking about not becoming a member of within the rondos in coaching, regardless that he performed as soon as. “That is their second,” he says. “And anyway, I desire to look at. You get plenty of info too. When it is enjoyable, when individuals are having fun with themselves, you uncover who individuals are. There are not any masks there. That is the place you see it, the place you see them…”

2 Associated

As he says these phrases, phrases that ring true, it falls into place: it’s the place you see him too. Within the enjoyable, the football, the moments. The individuals. The enjoyment. The reminiscences.

It will get him going, that is for positive. At instances, he barely appears to pause for breath.

“My grandfather purchased us a video of the historical past of the World Cups. And that summer season, 1990, I do not know what number of instances I watched it. Ah, so many. Pffff. It had all of it: that Rivellino aim. The whole lot from ’86, ’90, Spain in ’82, Argentina in ’78. I noticed it so many instances. I might watch Estudio Estadio, be able to press report and watch it 4 or 5 instances every week. Bits of commentary from video games are imprinted on my thoughts, phrases that go along with sure photos. I would watch it 300,00zero instances. I simply wished to ‘eat’ all of it up.”

“1990 was my first World Cup, the primary I correctly bear in mind, however there was Euro ’88 earlier than that, which is obvious in my thoughts. That legendary Marco Van Basten aim. I have been studying his autobiography, Frágil. I beloved it; it confirmed us issues that we do not see from the skin. He tells the story of how when he was seven a buddy fell in a lake and drowned. Issues that mark you. His historical past along with his dad. The way in which he grew up, every part. Everybody has their path, their route.”

That is Martínez’s.


Martinez has coached Granada as much as the Spanish high division on a tiny price range. This season, they’re within the Europa League quarterfinals and the highest half of La Liga. FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP through Getty Photographs

Football4cast: Do you bear in mind the primary recreation you went to?

Martinez: Completely. I used to be six. Celta Vigo vs. Valencia in 1987. It is crystal clear, nonetheless. Maté performed. Maraver. Nacho. Rodolfo. Vicente, Baltazar, Lucas, Alvelo. I bear in mind a aim from Balazar, Valencia sporting the [red and yellow] Senyera. Individuals sang: “ya somos tres, ya somos tres: Celta, Valencia y Logroñés” [“Now there are three of us: Celta, Valencia and Logroñés]. They had been the teams that went up that 12 months from the second division to the primary.

Celta gained promotion towards Sestao at Las Llanas. I bear in mind the celebration, going to the city corridor with my godfather. The whole lot being packed [full of people], all the way in which as much as the Castro [castle]. Simply full of individuals. That was large.”

Quickly, that team was yours as a participant, not only a fan.

I joined Celta’s youth system aged 9. By then, I used to be far more aware of what all of it meant, taking all of it in. Celta had taken a leap ahead with Jabo Irureta as supervisor, reaching Europe. We did not have a lot contact with the primary team, however I do bear in mind one festivo [“bank holiday”] coaching up there at Madroa, proper up above town. Within the fog and the rain: pure Galicia.

My mum could not come and get us and we noticed Eusebio Sacristan there and requested him if he would take us all the way down to town, please. He was asking us questions: ‘what’s it like?’ ‘how’s coaching?’ I used to be 13, I feel, think about what that meant to us. I would been a ball boy, too. I bear in mind Santi Canizares coming. I used to be behind his aim. Nobody wished to be a goalkeeper, however everybody wished to be like Canizares. He was an idol. He gave his gloves to a teammate of mine.

I used to be a ball boy at Celta vs. Zaragoza, watching Juan Esnaider protesting every part, going on the ref, opponents, everybody. That was… nicely, it left a mark, hahaha! Vasiljevic kicking Juan Sanchez within the head. [Martínez slaps his hands] Bang, he simply hits the ground, would not transfer. I used to be simply there, proper by it and I bear in mind his face.

I noticed Vasiljevic in Pamplona as soon as, years later, and I advised him: ‘bloody hell, I used to be there when that occurred!’ I loved that interval a lot. That point while you’re falling in love with football, studying a lot. All these issues that go away a mark on you perpetually. Pure football. All these particulars. That was my ardour. I went to the finals as a fan as nicely — though we went and misplaced them each to Zaragoza, haha! [Within the 1994 Copa del Rey remaining Celta misplaced 5-4 on penalties; within the 2001 remaining they misplaced 3-1.

In the long run, football is the automobile, an excuse for all times…

Completely. Take our current journey to Napoli. Ten thousand followers would have gone. My cousins wished to go, however no-one might, which is such a pity. It is a metropolis with such a ardour for football. You are there within the bus and so they’re insulting you.

Diego Martínez falls about laughing, imitating the gestures.

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That is football. Not the insults, however the ardour. The roar. The noise that every one youngsters that love football love.

You clearly did…

After I was a scholar, my [now] spouse would say to me: ‘go on, get the Marca information e book out, let’s examine what a freak you’re.’ And she or he’d say: ‘okay, Ruben Castro’, say, and I might reel off his complete profession. One other one: at Sevilla vs. Atletico, on the practice with the press officer, Juan Ramon Morales, on the way in which to the playoffs. I would discovered some outdated football stickers and I gave them to him as a result of he loves that sort of factor and we spent ages and ages guessing: ‘Racing Santander … left-footed … overseas ….’ ‘Marcelo Sabou?’ ‘Increase!’ Increase is the phrase. Martínez cracks up once more. “And the technical secretary is like: ‘I do not know the way you…’ ‘Okay, okay, one other one: Centre-backs. Valencia. 1989. Off you go…’

If it hadn’t been for damage, would you’ve gotten made it as a participant?

Nah. I used to be very dangerous, hahahahaha! No, if it hadn’t been for the damage, I nonetheless would not have made it. Put it this manner: I would not choose me! I used to be very disciplined, versatile, tactically I understood. However I did not have the bodily or technical means to go any additional. I performed in tercera, perhaps I might have performed Segunda B, however that leap to the second or first division? No, I do not suppose so. I used to be at Celta for 9 years, Cádiz C, Portuense. I performed in tercera whereas I used to be finding out. I obtained injured in September and in November I ended taking part in, however I would not have executed a lot.

Teaching was the logical step, then?

As a participant, what I had within the head, my physique could not do. As a result of I used to be tactically good and really disciplined, I all the time had a spot within the squad, regardless of my limitations, however I might see the place my ceiling was as a participant. I knew at 14, 15 actually. However I might additionally see issues others did not. I might ask coaches and health trainers all types of issues. Set-pieces, methods, something. I used to be . I might go to congresses, ask questions. I borrowed football books and took all of it in. I learn articles I did not even perceive. I consumed all of it, like I had consumed Don Balón. As a result of it was a ardour.

I did not know I used to be going to be a coach however later, wanting again — you possibly can see it. I used to be dig, dig, dig. Go in every single place, ask everybody and with out even realising it, you are turning into a coach.

You probably did a bodily training diploma at college. Was that with an eye fixed on being a coach?

After I did my diploma, I used to be desirous about being a coach, sure. My grades weren’t ok to get placements in A Coruna. I went to Cadiz to do the TAFAD [a physical education qualification] and I performed and educated there too. It was a two-year course, very sensible, very helpful. I obtained probably the greatest three grades in Andalucía after which went to school. It might have been Leon or Granada, I selected Granada. I do not know why: I had by no means set foot right here earlier than. The school is simply down the street right here, just about subsequent door. You suppose: why?

Was it future that introduced me right here of all locations? I did not know I might get in. The bodily trials had been July 6 or 7, and the day earlier than, at Three p.m., I went to see the Alhambra. That was the one slot out there, and I assumed ‘I’ve obtained to go as a result of I would by no means be again right here once more.’ So, I went…

However you handed and stayed.

Yeah, I obtained in to do INEF. I coached too. Imperio Alborote, then Arenas de Armilla in tercera. Youth coach, assistant, then first-team coach. I used to be 25; Have a look at my employees now. My assistant Raul Espinola, and my goalkeeper coach, Juan Carlos Fernandez: they had been Arenas gamers. It is like a narrative — every part connects.

However you did not have a route deliberate out?

By no means. I went the place football took me.

And now? Do you’ve gotten a future path mapped out?

No. That is by no means been my concept; you possibly can’t select. The one factor I’ve all the time executed was guarantee I used to be as critical, as ready with a team of U-15s as in tercera, as with Granada. Be certain I used to be prepared for what’s subsequent. I did not think about something. Simply be the very best coach you might be. Work as in the event you’re within the Champions League, even in the event you’re nowhere close to it. Study.

I used to be speaking to my basketball coach yesterday: I might study from basketball, volleyball, handball. Immerse your self in every part. Assume. I used to be requested to take a team at 25 and I stated sure as a result of I felt I used to be prepared. I used to be incomes very little; it wasn’t a residing. Some thought: ‘let’s examine when this novice falls,’ however we gained 9 in a row and virtually reached the playoffs, having taken over [when they were] backside. And I made a decision to not renew as a result of I needed to end my diploma. I had statistics and mechanics nonetheless to do. They thought I had an settlement with another membership, however I wished to complete.

Individuals stated: ‘why cease now, you have solely simply began?’ However I assumed: ‘I’ve to get this diploma and then I can do what I would like.’ And while you’re prepared, future, life, takes you the place it needs to take you.

Did your college associates see life bringing you right here?

Sure… Look, you suppose ‘do not be silly, how are you going to suppose this could occur?’ However, yeah, they are saying they might see it. That stated, they see what we have now executed at Granada and so they cannot imagine it.

Monchi noticed one thing in you and took you to Sevilla, the place you labored within the youth system and as an assistant. You realized from Marcelino, Míchel, Emery…

I by no means labored with Marcelino, however he was superb to me. I used to be teaching the U-19s, it was summer season, scorching, and I requested if I might watch coaching, ask questions. ‘What are you doing?’ He modified the membership’s complete methodology. I loved watching him rather a lot. It is not simply the coaches, it is Monchi, Pablo Blanco, Víctor Orta, Oscar Arias, Miguel Angel Gomez.

After which it will get critical. Whenever you reaches this stage, is it the identical? Can you continue to take pleasure in it?

In my method, yeah.

Which half?

The preparation of a recreation, seeing a team develop, seeing that you’ve got helped somebody… and if on high of that, you win, it is the hostia — bloody sensible. That course of, that inside satisfaction: that is every part. Exceeding expectations. Educating and training are very carefully linked. The gamers, like college students, are the protagonists. They do it. I like methodology and course of. In the event you win and you do not know why, that is not going to be sustained over time.

You are one of the vital energetic managers there may be. You are very vociferous on the touchline, always speaking, all the time instructing, virtually ‘in’ the sport.

I am in a trance. I am super-focused. There could also be moments when your feelings cannot be managed. With time, you possibly can management your temperament higher, [the basketball coach Sergio] Scariolo says. However I’m temperamental. I really feel and dwell the sport and my employees and gamers do too. I take pleasure in that sense of total focus. However, after all, in the event you ask when am I happiest, it is after we win. Not a lot due to the win itself as how we obtained there, the way it occurred, what we have now achieved.

Nobody anticipated this from Granada.

To see [forward] Antonio Puertas, [midfielder] Angel Montoro, [defender] German, [defender] Victor Diaz, [goalkeeper] Rui Silva, [goalkeeper] Aáron, [defender] Quini and [midfielder] Fede Vico… individuals who had been with you within the second division, go to Napoli and play guys who value €70m — that is greater than our total price range — and win… pffff.

That first season, everybody thinks we’ll wrestle. We go up. Then everybody thinks we’ll go down. We attain Europe. The following 12 months: ‘this lot are going again once more.’ No. That is the place the satisfaction is: in serving to a gaggle to imagine, to show itself, to really feel that keenness. With out that keenness, we might have 10 factors much less. With out that, after they rating in Napoli, we throw within the towel. Some other team would have executed in our state of affairs, a aim down, 4 gamers injured.

You point out that state of “trance,” the depth. Do you end video games drained?

Mucho, mucho. Mentally, you are exhausted. However then you possibly can’t sleep. When it is a evening recreation, I watch it once more. In Italy, I slept at 5 a.m.. I watched the sport once more, I analysed it: not as a result of I’ve to see it, however I could not sleep.

What occurs on these days when your vitality flags? That should occur, proper?

You come by means of the door, you must be ‘up.’ You are a coach; that is your job. In the event you’re all [soft, flat voice] ‘come on, lads’, that is no good. What you say needs to be coherent, genuine. A participant can ‘scent’ it in the event you’re not true. In the future I may be extra animated, however it should all the time be genuine, trustworthy. It is higher to do this and make a mistake then ask for forgiveness than be an imposter, pretending to be one thing you are not. In the event you’re offended or pissed off, go away that within the automobile. However moods change.

I learn one thing that Kobe Bryant, relaxation in peace, stated: to pay attention on the sport or the job, you do not all the time want the identical activation, the identical focus. The whole lot adjustments. Even the music you are listening to. I do know myself now: my music to come back to coaching adjustments relying on what I want in that second.

What had been you listening to on the way in which in at present?

Immediately it was Heroes del Silencio. Pearl Jam. I combine it up. Immediately was only for enjoyment fairly than to create a temper. As an instance you misplaced on Sunday evening at 9 p.m.. Monday morning, you possibly can’t open your eyes, you are feeling flat. You are still pondering: ‘We have misplaced.’ At that second you want Iggy Pop. Lust for all times. To analyse video games, I like extra classical music, one thing extra background. Jazz, say. Or Ludovic Einaudi on the piano. Each second has its music, and that is contagious.

What about if it is your gamers who’ve points. Do you assist them individually?

So far as they allow you to. They don’t seem to be all equally communicative, they do not all need you to assist them. There are gamers who use the pitch to isolate from the issues, for whom the very best factor is simply to play. As a coach I really feel near them. I’ve a ‘nostril’ for when one thing is not proper. I maintain out a hand however that step needs to be theirs.

I’ve had all types of gamers and I’ve realized from them. With some, you let it go; others you strategy. All of them have their button, their code. You need to study that, learn them.

Are there gamers you possibly can’t learn?

To start out with, sure. Some are exhausting to interpret. Generally it isn’t in what they are saying, however of their gestures. I imagine rather a lot in physique language, non-verbal language. And you actually really feel it while you join, face-to-face. Generally you discuss to the team and suppose: ‘at present, I reached them.’ Different days perhaps you do not really feel that, however later on, you discover that one thing you stated caught. Otherwise you discover {that a} veteran participant has advised a teammate: ‘communicate to the boss, it will be good for you.’ A few of them know me very nicely now; higher than I do know myself, I feel.

A lot of your work sounds intangible, intuitive.

The coach is an artisan. I like stats, knowledge, however a coach additionally needs to be intuitive. That instinct shouldn’t be plucked from nowhere — it is primarily based on years of labor, expertise, research. Even in the event you’re not aware of that, that is the place your instinct comes from, what it is constructed on. There’s course of, methodology after which a sense. The stats may say ‘this participant,’ however one thing says ‘that one.’ Why? I do not know, however him. And that is the coach’s artwork.

And in the event you’re improper? In the event you lose?

Boris Becker stated I hate dropping greater than I like successful, and I feel that is the case for me too. The depth of feeling is bigger: the hatred of defeat is extra intense. However I’ve realized over time — all of the extra so now with three video games every week — that there is no time for mourning. You need to be excited once more, prepared once more. Yeah, it could all be exhausting, that is true. However a lot the higher. I need to play each three days for a really very long time. No time for laments. Try this the day they sack you, hahaha! Till then, there is no time. There’s not a lot time to take pleasure in it both, thoughts you.

In Napoli we loved that evening, let free. However you are on the aircraft the subsequent day, and also you suppose ‘and who’s going to play on Sunday?’ and all of the euphoria vanishes, hahaha! There are difficulties, like there are in any occupation — in journalism, you could possibly inform me a great deal of issues — however crucial factor is to have the ability to dwell your ardour. That is absolutely the enterprise.

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