Bülent Korkmaz admits he was "quite excitable" during his illustrious playing career but, as he prepares for his debut as coach of out-of-sorts Galatasaray AŞ against FC Girondins de Bordeaux in the UEFA Cup, he also concedes it is a time for coolness.
Known as 'Braveheart' by fans during his long spell as Galatasaray's captain courageous, the 40-year-old replaced Michael Skibbe in charge of the Istanbul side following Sunday's 5-2 home league defeat by Kocaelispor. "I knew I would be Galatasaray coach some day and, thanks to my faith in myself, I'm here now," Korkmaz said. "I have overcome many obstacles in life. I have a strong character and believe I can deal with the pressure. I was quite excitable during my playing days and it is even more exciting to coach the team I played for – but I need to be calm now."
Without a win in five outings, including three losses, the pressure is on Galatasaray as they attempt to build on their 0-0 UEFA Cup Round of 32 first-leg draw in Bordeaux. The new coach reckons the home supporters can ease the burden at the Ali Sami Yen Stadium. "I want the Galatasaray fans to be behind us no matter what the circumstances are," said Korkmaz, who won eight titles, five Turkish Cups, the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup in 15 campaigns with the Cimbom. "I have faith in my team and the supporters should too."
Korkmaz quit playing in 2005, less than 12 months after making his 102nd and last appearance for Turkey. He moved into coaching with Kayseri Erciyesspor, Bursaspor and Gençlerbirliği SK, and hopes to bring his own ideas to the side lying fifth in the Süper Lig. "For me, attacking starts at the back," he said. "This reflects my aggressive approach but I need time to fully adapt this to my team." For now, he may be more preoccupied with a clutch of defensive worries, with Servet Çetin and Emre Güngör injured. Tobias Linderoth is unlikely to feature either, so Emre Aşık could partner Fernando Meira at centre-back, with Hakan Balta and Sabri Sarıoğlu on the flanks to deal with Bordeaux's slick counterattacking. The French club, however, are shorn of rested playmaker Yoann Gourcuff. "It is crucial we have effective zonal marking," said Korkmaz. "The rest will be fine because we have very good attacking players."
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