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20.05.2010 11:26

Txiki: “The model is undebatable”

Sandra Sarmiento

Barça technical secretary Txiki Begiristain has described the season as spectacular and feels that they are doing the right thing by depending on so many home-bred players. The future now hangs, he feels, on the new president.

4 titles in one season, and 12 titles in 7. Txiki Begiristain is one of the architects of a record-breaking team. He was the man who chose Frank Rijkaard, who produced a Champions League in Paris. The Dutchman was replaced by Pep Guardiola, who has added seven titles more. Whether he stays on as technical secretary depends on certain factors, but there is no questioning a job well done. After discussing possible transfers in and out of the club, Txiki Begiristain now speaks to Barça TV and www.fcbarcelona.cat about his time at the club.

What adjective would you use to describe the season?

“Spectacular. Not just because of the number of titles we have won but because we were in the hunt for them all once again. And in a brilliant way, playing great football. And when we got knocked out, the feeling was that we had been better than our opponents. We defended our style, a way of playing and by doing that, you look better than your opponent”.

Would your balance of the year be the same whether or not you won the League?

2009-12-05_PARTIDO_12.JPG“You may get the same feeling, but the result is never the same. To think the team that won was your big rival, Madrid. In other circumstances, we could talk about a more competitive league, with more teams. This year we had the unfortunate situation whereby if we didn’t win the league, then Madrid would. And that generates difficulties when it comes to rebuilding the team again. The atmosphere in and around Barça is complicated. That’s the way it is. But what we do feel is that we have our job well, that we have had a great season, but also that we have been better than our opponents. We showed that the two times we played them, and we showed that by winning the title”.

Has it been an exhausting season?

“Basically because drawing wasn’t good enough. That’s the problem, it was no good. Looking at the end of the season, we had to win at Vila-real. At home it was hard, because they were teams facing relegation, but we won. We had to win in Seville. The final stage shows how difficult it was for us. That’s tires you out, it’s a terrible amount of pressure, Madrid had an extraordinary season. They obliged us to win everything, to only lose one game, that creates so much pressure”.

Guardiola said that some of the Madrid press has not given Barça the respect it deserves. Can you remember such a resounding season as this one?

2009-11-29_PARTIDO_44.JPG“Last season was the same. There was a moment when we were winning by 4 points and went to the Bernabéu. They (the media) assumed they’d win and defended a team they considered more profitable to them, and we have to fight against all that. What there’s been more of this year has been the refereeing issue. The feeling that referees favoured Barça again. That’s what gets you the most. You have to write about how one team plays and the other plays. And the feeling everybody gets is that Barça was a better team than Madrid. And in Madrid they created this 'villarato' thing which has caused so much trouble. Because at the end of the day it’s the referee who feels that pressure. The word 'villarato' can be damaging, because the fans are always watching the referee”.

What did you think when you won the Clubs World Cup?

“Barça had never won that despite being a big team, and we should have all of the titles on offer. We had never been proclaimed world champions. And going to that game you got the feeling that Barça would never win it. Now there’s nothing missing. Then there was the Cup, the Champions league, the League. But we did feel that we had a core to settle, and we’ve settled it”.

They always say the second year is harder than the first. How has the team improved?

“We played at the same level and responded to the right demands. The thing with winning everything is that you ask: now what can we do? The team has kept it up. They got more points than last season, we played better than last season and it’s usually hard to keep the same rhythm. In specific areas we have not been as good as last year, but in the League we were better in every respect”.

Has the big leap in quality in Barça got anything to do with there being so many youth players and the coaches showing such faith in them?

“It confirms that our policy is right. The best players in the world should be here. But what’s happening in that the best players in the world are coming out of our own youth system. That’s an amazing success. At the end of the season, due to circumstances, we have ended up with a forward line that cost us nothing. Look at other big European sides and work out how much their strikers cost. That shows that our policy is the right one”.

Let’s look back at your time as technical secretary. Is what happened in the end part of what you had been planning from the start?

2009-08-31_RUEDA_DE_PRENSA_CHYGRYNSKIY_02.jpg“I’m very pleased with the way things have gone. At the end of the day, its titles that do the talking, but we have always respected an idea and philosophy of football. That’s always been our priority. It is what the president and the Board have always asked of me and I’ve respected that from the first day to the last. With two different managers. I was successful with Frank and now I’m successful with Pep. Always playing the same way. That’s important to show that the model is the right one. The model is undebatable. I’m happy. We have once again played lively football, bringing the ball out from the back and with three strikers you can win two European Cups. And that’s under two different coaches, so yes, I’m very proud”.

Is the technical secretary’s role under-judged?

“Yes, but that’s a way of protecting the coach. It’s my job. You pick the manager and you protect him. The manager picks the players that can win titles, and you usually work with 15 or 16 of them. The others are squad players, from 16 to 21, and if they’re not squad players, the technical secretary has ‘got it wrong’, in quotation marks. That’s my role. I’ve known that since the second year. I have been discrete about what I do and have always known that the real winners are the manager and his players”.

Do you suffer more than you have fun?

“Yes, but I’m not crying about it. It’s a marvellous job. You suffer over results, because you’re happy with our philosophy and the team is playing well. But that’s not enough. Let’s not kid ourselves. You have to win titles so that the president looks after you better. I have been lucky in that the president has always defended our model and that makes things more stable. I do think that the technical secretary has to play his role like that and it should stay like that in the future”.

The president has always said that his best decision ever was to sign Txiki.

“For the best president in our history to say that makes me feel… very proud. And most of all, supported. You need to feel that support when you make decisions, because they’re not easy. It isn’t easy to choose between one player and another. I have also been supported by the others in my department, I have some fantastic colleagues, who are always checking out the market and doing it well. I feel strong thanks to working with such a good technical department”.

What’s the worst moment you’ve had in the job?

“The worst moment was the game at the Bernabéu, with Frank. It confirmed that things weren’t right. It wasn’t holding together somewhere and Frank wasn’t strong enough to turn things around. That was the hardest decision. I am pleased the president let me hang until till June with Frank. It gave us stability and was respectful to a coach who had won us two Leagues and a Champions League, and that was good for the future. It was a good decision, but it was a very hard one indeed”.

The best decision?

“The change of manager. To build a new project based around the Barça Atlètic coach was amazing. He was strong, he wanted to do things and to make a European champion out of a Third Division coach (later Second Division B) was the best decision I ever made”.
Txiki: “The model is undebatable”

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His future
Does your time as technical secretary end on June 23?

“It depends on the new president. The president will have to ask the technical secretary a lot of things and vice versa. If he is given the chance”.

Do you want to carry on or have you had enough?

“I’m not burnt out. The time has come to build another squad and I’d be very happy to do it, whether I actually get to do it or not. I love my job. I enjoy it, even though it’s not easy deciding who’s coming and going. You always have the tranquillity of knowing the coach supports you. Everything depends on the new president”.

Some pre-candidates have already shown that they would keep you on.

“Yes, but I have a lot of questions to ask that I didn’t ask in 2003. I have learned from experience and that means I’ll have a lot of questions to ask the new president. Because this job is not easy.”

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