Paco Jeméz's commitment to stylish, attacking football with Rayo Vallecano de Madrid has won him many admirers, not least his old Spain team-mate Josep Guardiola. The former centre-back has a proven track record of steering clubs on low budgets to high places, enjoying success with RSD Alcalá, FC Cartagena, UD Las Palmas and Córdoba CF before taking charge of Rayo in 2012.
Now Rayo's longest-serving coach in the top flight, Paco is gearing up for Sunday's trip to FC Barcelona, where he insists his side will play with the same attacking verve as always. Speaking to UEFA.com, the 44-year-old shares his thoughts on that Camp Nou test and why "winning for the sake of winning doesn't interest me".
UEFA.com: Málaga CF and RC Celta de Vigo have both won at the Camp Nou this season by playing very defensively. Will that affect how your team sets up there?
Paco Jeméz: No.
I don't think that Rayo could get even a point at the Camp Nou if we played in any other way than our usual style – that would be a mistake. It may work for other teams, but if we sat back in our area, we would definitely end up losing. My way of viewing football is not going to change. I became a coach to see my team play well, to see my teams put into practice everything that we work on during the week and to play in a defined style which will give us a better chance of winning matches. But winning for the sake of winning doesn't interest me.
UEFA.com: After losing 5-0 at home to Barcelona in 2012, you said: "If you're going to lose by two, what difference does it make if you lose by five?" Do you stand by those words?
No one likes conceding five goals in a match, but what I don't want is for my team to defend when we are losing 2-0. When you are losing 2-0, you have nothing to lose. The game is already lost, so you have no choice but to go forward and look for a goal. This season, Eibar were 2-0 up against us, so we went forward and managed to make it 2-2. Any other team would have been happy with the point and defended until the end, but we kept on going forward. We had three chances to score and then they got a late winner. Sometimes that will happen, but I don't mind as long as it happens while we are trying to win the game.
UEFA.com: One statistic that stands out is that Rayo have only drawn two of 25 matches this season.
Paco: For a team like ours, whose aim every season is to avoid relegation, draws aren't very useful. Last year, Real Valladolid drew 15 games and were relegated. The sums are very simple: teams from the middle of the Liga table to the bottom lose a minimum of half their games each season, so you only have 19 games left. If you draw 14 of those 19 games and win just five, then you get 29 points, and you go down. So draws are no use to us: we either win or lose. And with that attitude, we win lots of games – we win 14 or 15 games a season, and that helps us complete our objective each year.
UEFA.com: Last season, Rayo lost 15 out of 20 games and spent a long time in the relegation zone. Was there a danger of the players losing faith in this attacking style?
Paco: I don't think so because they continued to play in the same way and with the same level of conviction. Last year, we were criticised at times because we were near the bottom of the table, but that was mostly coming from the outside. It's logical that people will start to doubt you when you have a bad run, but inside the dressing room I didn't have that impression.
UEFA.com: You have always coached teams with low budgets and Rayo are no different. Do you enjoy working under those constraints?
Paco: I really enjoying working with teams like this, because you have to have so much conviction and enthusiasm if you want to get the best out of your players and get them to be more than the sum of their parts. Of course, if we had more money we'd be able to sign better players, have a better stadium and have better training facilities, but I am very proud of what I have achieved and the fact I have achieved a lot with very little. That's a great challenge for a coach.
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