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16.06.2009 17:09

Txiki: "We play this way because we are Barca"


In an interview for REVISTA BARÇA, technical secretary Txiki Begiristain reflects on the triple winning campaign. Reflections made after what he describes as “a simply incredible season”.

Now the celebrations for the triple have finished, how would you judge this season?

It’s hard to say anything other than extraordinary - a simply incredible season.

Who’s responsible for such a successful team?

Everybody has done their job, each of us in our own area.

Okay, we’ll not make any comparisons between the different elements, but talk to us about Pep. About Guardiola as a coach.

Pep is order and organisation. What he’s done is sensational.

Everybody speaks well about him. What’s his secret?
QM3D0360.jpgHard work. He works hard and he works well. He’s about dialogue, method…… you should see how he prepares every training session, how he studies his tactics. There’s not Pep the coach and then Pep something else - football is his life.

So you could say he’s got the chalkboard in his head?

And the ball… He loves his job because he loves football. When he talks to you about a rival, you can tell straight away that he’s seen them play at least three times and his comments are always confident, there’s no risk. He excites you and makes you want to get out and work too.

Has he surprised you?

In general, no. If we chose him, it was because we knew what he was like and, in my case, I’d been in the same team as him as a player. But even though I saw how he coached the Barca B team, it has surprised me the way that the team has taken to him. For the speed and intensity that he made the team his own. And I’m talking about the way he was accepted personally and also about how what he means and represents.

This acceptance of change has been key to the success we’ve enjoyed this year?

Definitely. But it’s not happened by accident. We needed the team to believe in him and they have.

When did you realise it was all going to fit together?

02-08-08_GUARDIOLA_Y_BEGIRISTAIN_06.jpgRight from the start. The players are football people and everyone in football knew about Pep. But the players are also professionals and also human beings. If the squad committed themselves to the changes Pep wanted, it was in response to the quantity and quality of the work he was putting in. He was the mirror we were holding up to the new project for the team and he worked hard and worked well. His obsession with the smallest of details was also a key factor.

This way of working is never going to be an end in itself though, it has to be a way to achieve a particular end.

Of course. We work to make sure we win. But if you work with an idea behind you and that brings everything together, it’s easier to think that when the moment comes, you are going to win. When he was with Barca B, Pep videoed every game of the other teams and he wouldn’t let anybody else prepare the reports on the other team, he had to do it himself. It’s not a pose, it’s just that he really believes in what he’s doing. We watched him sat on the bench in the Mini Estadi and you could see that behind every gesture and in the way that he lived the games, there was a coach there. As they say in Catalonia, “un señor entrenador” – a real coach.

A year ago, there was talk about the importance of experience. He had none in the top flight.

So where was the problem? There wasn’t one. Somebody decided to open the door to the Mini for him. Someone decided to open the door to the Nou Camp for him. Those of us who did it were convinced we were right.


03-04-09_WEB_GUARDIOLA_01.jpgBecause experience is a relative value. It’s an unsustainable argument. Sure experience is something you have to acquire, you can’t buy it and you can’t get it overnight. But there are other values as well. Otherwise how can you understand that a President who came new to the job in 2003 has won 2 Champions Leagues in 6 years? Laporta had no experience as President when he came in and you could expand that argument to Frank and myself. Frank didn’t have a wide range of experience when he came here and he won two league titles. I’d never done this jib before either. Maybe we had no experience in the strict sense of the word, but we were committed and believed in a very specific football project which we were prepared to stand up and defend.

Is that all? I thought you’d talk about other factors.

Yes, well there was obviously a thorough knowledge of the football world and intuition, but the most important thing was our way of looking at the world. Now after the years we’ve been here and the success we’ve had, we have got experience, but to put success simply down to that one factor would be a mistake.

There was a lot of talk about players leaving and coming in. Deco’s leaving seemed to mark the end of the Ronaldinho era, The team changed its leaders…..

Yes, it was necessary. The coach has to have a team and an adequate group. To have continued with the same players was too risky and we didn’t want to go down that road. What’s more with the departure of players who’d been important to the squad, we freed up spaces and modified some of the roles the others were taking. If Leo Messi is number 1 now, it’s at least in part down to the fact that somebody left and he took their place.

Is football all about big names?

What a mistake! Don’t get obsessed with big name stars. The important thing is the philosophy of the club.

Many fans would find that hard to take.

ZUERAS_FC.BARCELONA_-_MANCHESTER_UNITED_FINAL_CHAMPIONS_27-05-09_058.JPGWell I’ve always respected that attitude too, but Barca is the way it is because it’s defined itself in terms of a style of football which is genuine and particular to this club. That’s the way, there is no other. When someone comes to work at Barca they have to adapt and play and live in accordance with the club’s philosophy. That’s something that many clubs try to achieve and it’s hard to achieve success until you’ve passed that test - the test of personality.

Yet they always say that the team with the best players is the team that wins.

Just because people have always said it, doesn’t mean it’s true. Of course you need a good squad to win, yes, the best possible. But that’s no guarantee of anything. To win – and to keep winning – you need a model, your own idea of football. I think one of the proudest things for this club is that we have consolidated our style of play and that we are clearly associated with a particular vision of the game. No one can argue about our model. What makes us unique is our pressing, robbing the ball upfield and a refusal to sit back and defend. That’s our trademark and we’ve achieved it with two different managers and in a relatively short period of time.

So there’ll be no return to the discussions on how we should be playing? That’s no longer a fashionable subject for discussion?

Let’s not be frivolous about this. It’s not a matter of fashions, it’s a question of results. With two different managers, we’ve won a lot. Paradoxically, we seem to have become more concerned with results now, but we’ve taken a path that’s very different and if now we are happy with looking at the results it’s because we know we’ve got where we are by first evolving our own style of play. Every team wants to win, but we’re at that stage now because we fixed our model. This third Champions League win, our second this century, should put an end to discussions about how we play. We play this way because we are Barca and playing this way have become the best.

Can you guarantee success will continue?

FC.BARCELONA_-_MANCHESTER_UNITED_FINAL_CHAMPIONS_27-05-09_x27x.JPGWinning is difficult. Nobody should forget that, but I’m sure we’ll have as good a chance of success as anyone else. Barca knows what it’s like to have sustained success and I think we should be celebrating that for the next 20 years or so we have buried the discussions about how we should play and we have defined our philosophy. We are Barca and we have to play like Barca. We’ve spent a lot of time on these debates in the past, but now that’s over and done with and we can use that time better.

So, will we continue to enjoy success?

I don’t know. But this team has managed to become a reference point in our club’s history and beyond. Other teams want to be Barca now. We are the Champions and that’s a good guarantee.

The last time we celebrated a title, we seemed to think wining was easy and it was ours, we’d never lose again. What’s been learnt from that moment?

Well, it’s always a mistake to think that if you’ve been successful it will continue without making changes and looking for a new stimulus. The only way to make success last longer is through change, not revolution. We have to develop competition for key positions in the team and keep up the pressure.

What characteristics would you associate with the figure of Txiki Begiristain?

P1040929_R.jpgThere’s one which in a large part explains my job. – I’m seen as cold and detached. I’m clear about what we have to do. Despite the inevitable mistakes and slip ups, you have to have confidence in the people who work around you. That’s what I believe I have to do and so I have to try and cut off the influences from outside. I can’t change my criteria on Sunday’s result. I have to be detached and not allow the pressure of the moment or the fear of losing to influence me.

You’ve worked with Rijkaard and Guardiola and got on well with them both. What’s that down to?

There’s no secret to it. I have never looked to be any kind of star. The footballers have their job, as do the managers and the President, but I have to avoid the limelight and get on with my job. In my job, if you want to be a star, go ahead, but you’ll come a cropper.
Txiki: “We play this way because we are Barca“

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