We aim to continue to build on from the last season-Team Manager Mischa  

Urawa Reds started the 2013 Season on 20 January. After visiting a local shrine to wish for their success this year and finishing a training session, Team Manager Mischa spoke at a press conference.

“First of all, I would like to start off by saying a happy New Year to all of you. I wish for everyone’s good health and I hope to work well together with all of you. Health is the most important thing. We can all work hard to achieve our own goals as long as we are healthy. Now, if I speak about everything first, then I will take opportunities away from you to ask me any questions. So, let me take your questions and answer them from now.”

[Questions and Answer session]

“ Please tell us about your back condition.”

I went through two operations on my back after I left Japan. Unfortunately, the first operation did not work out well and I was not able to get a satisfactory outcome. Then, I had my second operation on 14 December 2012. I went through two operations within 10 days. To my good relief, the second operation went very well and I have recovered as well as how I am now.

As I have damaged my back and suffered from nerve pain for some time, my leg muscles have been weakened. Though I can manage to walk without a crutch, I must do some workouts or training sessions to fix my walking posture by using a crutch as well as to regain my leg muscle strength.

During the forth-coming training camp, I must work on my rehabilitation while my team players will be training hard on their camp program. In this sense, I will have a “training camp” for myself as well. In any case, things are going in the right direction regarding my back problem. So, I am very pleased with my situation.

“What will be the key to go through a very tight match schedule during the first half of the season while continuing to achieve satisfactory results?”

First of all, it will be important for our players to work and build on from their training well. Our players learnt to play a new style of soccer last year. As a result, each player has come to understand what our style of soccer is. They have also learnt what exactly they are required to do in their own positions.

During this season’s training camp, we will go through a number of training programs. Each player is expected to work on what he has to improve to get better at it. During the camp, we will play several practice matches with different member combinations. Our players are expected to function well under different member combination. When our players can do this well, our team will be able to function well under a tight match schedule while playing in both J. League matches and ACL matches. So, it is important for us to bear this in mind and prepare ourselves well during the camp.

It is dangerous for players to think playing in matches continuously is important. Throughout the last season, I maintained close communications with my players. I spoke a lot with my players. I will continue to be always open and honest with my players this year as well. For example, when a player who has been playing in several matches is to be replaced by another player, how he accepts the situation is important. Under such a situation, I will communicate with the player to gain his understanding. Always playing in a match is not necessary the best thing to do. What is always important is for our team to win matches. It is necessary for my team players to understand this and act in a way to achieve the best result as a team. During the camp, I will discuss this very point with my players while working on our training programs.

The team has trained in a good atmosphere so far. We had good training in a pleasant atmosphere today. So, I would like to work well with my team players to maintain these good vibes. As I have repeatedly reminded my team throughout last year, I would like them to always act in a way to achieve best results for the team as a whole. Our team’s success will bring individual success. I will tell my team members not to mix up the order.

“What is the aim for this season?”

During a press conference like this at the beginning of a new season, many people ask this type of question. As for me, I am not the type of person who changes my mind often. I know the direction or the path I aim to take. However, I am not the type of team manger who talks a lot or promises a lot in a situation like this.

If you recall what I said at the beginning of the previous season, you will know that what we aim to achieve will be shown on the pitch. I will show our goal or what direction we aim to take through our training and matches day by day. At the beginning of the previous season, we aimed to make a good foundation to start a new team and to show everyone what type of soccer we would play and direction to follow. I believe we achieved our aim in this regard and attained good results last season.

Of course, we will aim to achieve a better result this year than last year. However, the overall result will depend heavily on our luck. We will never know what kind of result awaits us. Nonetheless, we will work hard to show better soccer than last year’s and will improve the quality of soccer we play so that our supporters will be happier than before and we can gain even better trust from them. We aim to “continue to build on” from last season to move forward in the direction we aim to go. In a nutshell, this is what we try to achieve this season.

The level of each team in the J. League is very well balanced. It is rare to see such a level pegged soccer league in the world. In other words, the J. League is a very dangerous league to play in. It is probably fare to say that about 12 teams will be aiming to win the title or at least to be in the top three this year. It was a real surprise to me to see Gamba Osaka relegated to J.2 last year. I have seen professional leagues over past 37 years and Gamba Osaka was one of the teams that scored the most numbers of goals. The number of points they scored surpassed the number of points they lost. Yet, they were relegated to the second league, which is probably unheard of in any other league in the world.

We will continue to make every training session to be open. This means everyone is welcome to see our training. We would like to show how we train and what we aim to achieve by making our daily training sessions open to the public. We would like many people come to see what we are trying to achieve. I think you were able to have guessed who was to play in an upcoming match during the last season. We have nothing to hide. You can see what kind of training we run at anytime of the year. As a result, you will be able to guess who will be playing in an upcoming match. This is what I mean by we have nothing to hide. So, please come to see our training.

Urawa Reds come to every match with confidence, which is gained through training, and the efforts we make daily. When players make lots of efforts and have good training, it brings a great success. For this reason, I have no doubt that this season will be a good season for us.

“What do you think about this season’s team strengthening?”

Four players transferred to Urawa Reds from other teams for this season. In addition to this, Takuya Nagata who was playing for Kusatsu for a fixed-term as well as Sakano who was a member of Reds Youth joined us this year. Realistically, four players will add to the team’s strength, as other two are young players.

I think all four players had a strong desire to play for Urawa Reds. As you would know by looking at last season’s games-record, Moriwaki was the only one who played as a regular member. Koroki had few chances to be a starting line-up member when he was playing for Kashima Antlers. Sekiguchi did not play in many matches in Vegalta Sendai perhaps due to his injury. Nasu did not play in many matches either while with Kashiwa Reysol.

However, having said that, both the Club and myself wanted to have them join our team. I think they are good players. What I value is good personality as well as good skills as a player. I believe that good players with fantastic personalities have joined Urawa Reds family. I value the four as good players as well as good people. Now, let’s see how they will perform from now.

“It will be the second time for you to play in the J. League as well as the ACL. What kind of lessons have you learnt from the past experience?”

First of all, it is such a great honor to be able to play in the ACL. My past experience has taught me that it is important for us to have as many players as possible to play in different positions. In other words, we must increase the number of players who will function well when playing in a match.

It will depend on how effectively we can rotate our players between the J. League and the ACL. It is not just rotating our players but to train our players to maintain their level of skills even when they are rotated to assume different positions. This is what I have learnt from my past experience. For example, when a player is suffering from fatigue as a result of performing in a few consecutive matches, he is unable to play satisfactorily. When this happens, some may ask why I do not replace him with another player. But, if another player who would replace him will not be able to perform well, then changing players would not mean much.

A good player who is in a bad condition or suffering from fatigue may still perform well for a short period of time. If there is no certain evidence that another player will do well in the position, there is no point changing players.

If I know introducing a new player will set a positive tone for the team or will bring a better outcome, I will change players. But, if otherwise, there will be no point in doing so.

“What do you ask of your players on the pitch?”

I guess my answer to this question will not be much different from other team managers. I mean I will ask them to play, run and observe rules well on the pitch.

I consider myself as a patient team manager. However, what I do not what to see in my players is to play with fear. I guess some players can be fearful of making mistakes when they get the ball in their possession. But, I really do not want them to feel that way. Our players have nothing to be fearful of. In my training, I prepare my players for any possible situation. For this reason, I want them to try their best without fearing anything. I tell my players to pass on the ball even in our penalty area if necessary. If they lose a goal as a result, I will take the blame. So, I always hope to see my players perform as they practice. I think the biggest enemy for players is fear. I think it is important to challenge ourselves with an idea when playing soccer. Even when you make a mistake, we should not be discouraged to make another challenge.

When I came to Sanfrecce Hiroshima in 2006, our supporters booed us a lot. I introduced a new style of soccer, which is to build up from the behind by passing the ball to the goalkeeper first. At first, our supporters in Japan did not understand the strategy. I guess many people wondered why we took risks rather than passing the ball forward. Our defenders took the ball from behind and put themselves in the opponent’s side to make attacks. I guess there was not any team to play a game of soccer like the way we started to do in Japan at that time.

I guess Sanfrecce Hiroshima was the first team in Japan that started this. In this sense, I felt that Hiroshima led Japanese soccer. I guess at that time, no one thought of making an attack by a center back player to take the ball in the opponent’s side of the pitch. I think this must have been revolutional in Japan’s soccer world. It is great too see changes in the substance and quality of soccer in Japan between now and seven years ago. Sanfrecce Hiroshima winning the title last season shows that Japan’s soccer is advancing in the right direction. Young players are also being produced and having those players performing well overseas means there is a bright future in Japan’s soccer world. This is a good proof that Japanese soccer is going in the right direction.

[Urawa Reds Official Media (URD:OM)]

We aim to continue to build on from the last season-Team Manager Mischa