offpitch | 2016-04-26
Cristian Catena: 'We don’t just form football players, but persons we can be proud of'
Cadet B's coach reveals the insights of the unbeaten academy squad which is marveling Luis Enrique
In an exclusive interview with Albert Rogé of SPORT, coach of Cadete B (U-16) Cristian Catena reveals the secrets of the team that captivated Luis Enrique.
25 games, 25 wins. What is the secret of this team?
The secret is the setting. They get along fantastically well, competing and training amazingly. They strive, they deliver, and they listen to us. They have a fabulous relationship between them, and that is key.
This team has been so good that Luis Enrique has praised it. How was that feeling, as Cadet B’s coach?
It’s a great satisfaction. He’s the coach of the first team, and that he knows our players are special is a luxury for us and for the whole azulgrana academy. It’s a success.
Did the players receive the message?
We had a conversation following the statements by Luis Enrique. I think it’s important that the players know that Luis Enrique knows about La Masia, but they have to work a lot. They are doing well, and they have to stay that way.
What does this team do that make it recognizable?
We have a department of methodology that helps us. Our base is to exercise ball possession. We have players who fit that style of play, and the key is to make a good uptake when they are young. They have to know how to interpret the games, recognize the superiorities and take the initiative.
How have they been affected by the FIFA ban?
It was a very delicate situation because we were the most affected team. We had five signings and two players who were later punished. It made competition difficult because they were loaded with minutes.
In the Cadet category, the players are soon to arrive at a professional contract. Do you notice that your players are more individualistic and only think of their performance?
We encourage something far away from this. They have an extraordinary relationship. They have to support each other before holding things back. Logically there is healthy competition, but the relationship between them is amazing. For example, the goalkeepers share the same position, but they have nothing but compliments toward each other.
What’s the greatness of your team and La Masia?
What is encouraged is the relationship on and off the pitch, which is important. At La Masia, they don’t just form football players, but training persons is something we can be proud of.
How do you manage the emergence of social networks?
We have a department of communication that helps us with what should be published and what shouldn’t. Sometimes it escapes your hands because this world grows too much. We have conversations with the players and try to give examples from other teams, or sometimes a first-team player tells them what can and what can’t be done.
Which moment would you single out from this season?
The preseason was very special for all of those who couldn’t play until January, but I’ll certainly pick when the team bonded after Ansu's (Ansumane Fati) injury. He was a very important player whom we only enjoyed for seven games this season. When it happened, the whole team got together and said we had to take a step forward and step up for such an important player who was injured. In the next game, we played a perfect one.
How do you motivate a team that has already won the league?
By having conversations with them. To them, it was exciting to win the league title and that they have succeeded, but they have other challenges in mind and that they have to grow individually and collectively. We must not forget that the goal is to climb to the first team, and for that, they have to work a lot.
In a few years, when you look back and choose a phrase for this season, what would it be?
There is a phrase that is very significant for our players: “We cannot recreate what has been achieved because football is used to punish those who think very good of themselves.” We have the quote hanging in the locker room, and they love it because they are always reminded of it in games, as well as in trainings.