Having spent the majority of his playing career in their midfield, Míchel holds Real Madrid CF dear but sentiment will be put aside tonight as his Getafe CF side host their city rivals in the Liga.
The 47-year-old will welcome his former team to the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez while hoping to maintain Getafe's push for a European spot. Los Azulones are eighth in the Liga, just five points off a UEFA Europa League place, but Míchel insists his side are not looking beyond maintaining top-flight status. "After such a difficult season last year, this time around we want to make sure we are safe as soon as possible," he told UEFA.com.
The former Spanish international spent 15 years at Madrid before taking the reins at Rayo Vallecano and then Real Madrid CF Castilla. Getafe turned to Míchel last term, replacing Víctor Muñoz with six games to go and the team in serious danger of relegation. They are breathing easier this time around, with nine points and five victories more than at the same stage 12 months ago. "We're on the right road towards safety but we haven't achieved that yet," he said. "Should we do so, we'll look to getting close to the European places. It will be very difficult but we'll certainly try."
The squad he has at his disposal is little changed from last season, and Míchel feels the key ingredient to the upturn is belief. "It's more or less the same group of players that were here last season," he said. "All I've done is to instil the mental groundwork and convinced these players they are great."
With Madrid set to test that belief on Thursday, Míchel believes his side face a huge task against a team he believes are setting the standard in the Liga this term. "Madrid have been holding off [FC] Barcelona's charge lately and they are looking very good," he said. "They've earned the privileged position they find themselves in at the top of the standings."
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.