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28.04.2007 14:37

“I’m Optimistic because I believe in the squad”

Sergi Nogueras

Seven games left until the end of the season, four of them at Camp Nou. The moment of truth is here and despite the recent loss, Frank Rijkaard is confident in his team.

This Sunday, Barça take on Levante, with three valuable points up for grabs. The last defeat has made things much tighter at the top of La Liga. The Liga title will be decided a little more every week, making each game more decisive. Rijkaard believes the tension is part of the game and has great faith in his team of players: “It’s close at the top now; this serves as motivation. This is the life of a sportsman. Top level sport changes every day; we have to react to it and we have to demonstrate it on pitch. I’m optimistic and I believe in the squad”.

In their own Hands

Rijkaard always repeats that the Liga is in their hands. If Barça win, they remain at the top. For this reason, the Dutch coach is not interested in how their closest rivakls are playing. If he watches games, it’s for the pure enjoyment of watching footaball: “As a follower of football, the majority of players and coaches watch games. We like watching games, it’s our job. I’m not interested in how are rivals are doing because we have to concentrate on our own game”.

Attitude and mentality

As always, the Dutch coach has reiterated the key philosophies of attitude and mentality. He believes the squad has always stuck close to them. Despite this, he made one criticism: “As a team, there have been times when we haven’t played how we’ve wanted, we’ve been a little weak. However, we’ve worked hard to change and improve. When a coach is unhappy, he’s unhappy with the team as one. We’re in this situation and the only thing we want is to go out, play and demonstrate our ability to the public”.

Confidence in Bojan

Rijkaard is a firm believer in nurturing new talent and when it has been necessary, he had s tested out a few Barça B players. The most recent example being that against Al Ahly, which he considered: “Good for the team, to be together, to travel together” and that “it was good to change the chip”. Rijkaard took advantage of the situation to praise the younger players, especially Bojan, and announce he will call upon the youngster in the future: “We saw some great players such as Olmo, who does his work well, Giovanni always gives a great sensation and Bojan who, despite being very young, has so much talent, that were thinking he can start working with the first team”.

Chat with the Squad

Another theme which has been mentioned this week is Rijkaard’s chat with the squad on Monday. The coach wanted to clarify that the meeting was productive: “When I gathered everyone together, it seemed like I was having a go at them. It’s not my way of doing things. There are moments when I’m with the team and suddenly an idea or a sensation comes to me and I want to explain it to them; my point of view. If I had a go at the team, I would be having a go at myself”.

Also, he added: “We work, win and suffer together, it wasn’t something studied or thought of previously – in that moment I knew I had to say something. I had to say it and some people have thought it was something severe, but it wasn’t like that”.
“I’m Optimistic because I believe in the squad”
A lot to play for
The Liga is in its final stages, where the fight for the title and the fight to avoid the drop are all about getting those valuable points. Rijkaard, however, said: “The game against Levante will be really important because they’re playing for their future in the Liga. Every game has its history and is complicated. If you don’t have the right mentality, you can have problems. Therefore, we have to concentrate in order to keep winning”.

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