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Antic aiming high

Published: Wednesday 9 April 2003, 20.59CET
Radomir Antic hopes to maintain FC Barcelona's European dream and restore domestic pride.
Published: Wednesday 9 April 2003, 20.59CET

Antic aiming high

Radomir Antic hopes to maintain FC Barcelona's European dream and restore domestic pride.

Radomir Antic's new job as FC Barcelona coach is anything but dull. After succeeding Louis van Gaal recently, Antic has the task of trying to restore the club's pride amid a disappointing domestic season, while masterminding the team's impressive charge towards the later stages of the UEFA Champions League.  

Before tonight's quarter-final first leg in Turin against Juventus FC, Antic talked to Does a coach arriving at a club like Barcelona immediately use a "brush" to sweep away everything previous, and start completely afresh, or does one make slow, gradual adjustments?

Radomir Antic: I have never brushed aside anyone's history. I believe that this is a question of human decency. I respect the work my predecessor has done, and it is not up to me to judge his achievements. I will continue to build up the future of Barcelona on good foundations. I do not have the right to do otherwise. How much of your new job has initially been about motivation - you've joined a big club with big players who have experienced a traumatic season, in the league in any case.

Motivation is something that should be part of everyday life. Everyone should be personally interested in the job they are doing, and therefore give their maximum. I am motivated to a very high level, but you will never see any of the emotions that might be rising inside of me. Are you someone with fixed tactical ideas that the players will have to follow, or are you a flexible tactician?

Tactics is a very sensitive issue. Simply, there are no encyclopaedic precise definitions of good or bad tactics. Today, the most popular tactic is 4-4-2, some use 3-5-2, but all that is subject to change during a match. Personally I like offensive football, and I believe that this entirely complies with the profile of my club and players. I don't have a God-given formula that I impose on the players. We consider every match individually and take the opposition into account. I believe that a four-man back line is a good solution, especially with an experienced team like Barcelona. The same number of players should satisfy all midfield tasks, while two attackers should be enough up front. But this is only theory - in practice, everyone should be committed, very active and polyvalent. How much time have you, as the new coach, given the players to become adjusted to you, as a person and in tactical terms?

The time of adjustment is irrelevant. It depends on many factors, but mostly on the quality of the entire team. I think that all of us in Barcelona are worthy of mutual respect. The players have accepted me very quickly, and understood my work system. I am asking for a lot of work, especially in training. I also want seriousness, interest and general mobility. But I insist that we keep a sense of humour, which makes hard work much easier. Would you sacrifice Champions League success for an upturn in the team's domestic form? Or could you live with domestic mediocrity if the team continues to produce the form it has shown in European competition so far this season?

I will be honest - the Champions League interests and attracts me personally. It is the elite continental competition, and to be on top of Europe is a special honour. Realistically, this is where we could reach our best success this season, which is somehow contradictory. It is bizarre when you mark victory after victory against the best European clubs, but struggle in the domestic league. My goal is that we win the Champions League. On the other hand, we are not forgetting the league. We have to restore our reputation. And finally, how do you live with the pressure that comes with knowing that there is one certain thing in the profession of coach - that one day you will face the sack? 

The ones who do not know and do not respect the laws of the coaching profession, should not stay for one single minute. I live a normal life, I do not live under the pressure of the sack. My destiny in the summer will be determined only by the results I have achieved.

Last updated: 09/04/03 20.51CET

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