offpitch | 2016-04-28
Carles Martínez: 'The most important thing is how we have won the championship'
The Infantil A coach explains that the learning process is the most important aspect in Barça’s academies
Carles Martínez joined FC Barcelona last season coming from the city archrivals RCD Espanyol. His arrival was full of controversy and rumors so he sat down with Albert Rogé of Sport to clear the air after winning his first league title with Barça’s Infantil A squad.
You were working with Espanyol and Barça knocked on your door, was it difficult to make that decision?
It was complicated for the sporting media because I knew there would be controversies or people would try to make a big deal out of it. Personally, on a professional level it was a very important opportunity and I couldn’t say no.
Was it all with Espanyol like the media published it or was there a good relationship with the club?
I have nothing bad to say about Espanyol. During the five seasons I worked there, they treated me great and the day I left too. I said goodbye of everyone and the truth is that everything went well. Everything was sold differently the next day but the truth is our relationship have always been good.
Once you arrive to Barça, you win your first league title on your very first season, how do you feel?
Very happy. I think I have a squad of outstanding quality. One of the objectives was the learning process and the other to be champions. The most important thing is how we have won the championship, doing a great season and I’m very pleased with my players.
What’s the secret?
It involves a little bit of everything. Talent, strength, speed, very good little boys and step by step we have achieved to bring together these features in the benefit of the team. We are in a balanced state between the offense, defense, competitiveness and knowing what to do on the pitch.
Fate wanted you to win the league title on Espanyol’s field, did that make it more special or would you have preferred another field?
I understand that for the boys and the club is more special but for me the important was to clinch the title as soon as possible and the setting was the least of my concerns. Perhaps, in order to be able to celebrate it more, I’d have preferred another field.
Does it exist that rivalry against Espanyol in the academy squads?
For them it’s an important match. It’s a special day. We always try for them to take on every match with the same motivation. You want them to feel good and you have to provide them a positive message.
On the pitch you are one of the most demanding coaches but afterwards I’ve seen you’re the first one to encourage the titles celebrations, is that your philosophy?
I always tell them that I’m very strict, that I’m always on their backs but we do it so they can enjoy of these moments and appreciate where they are. I’m the type of person who prefers to say the things up front and not hold back anything until the end of the season. I’m completely open about things. You have to be demanding because this is the way the world is but afterwards I’m the first one who enjoys having a nice environment outside the pitch.
What’s the next objective?
To keep going because you can never remain idle here. However, to speak only about winning in the academy level is not the most important thing. We have to keep working in order to improve their performances for the upcoming season. Based on that, if you can win some title then perfect.
This has been a complicated year due to the FIFA ban, has it been difficult to manage the squad?
At first, it was difficult to watch them training and they couldn’t play. Logically, for me it was easier to make the rotations because there were fewer players. On the other hand, in January you have the great joy because they can play knowing that for you will be a bit more complicated since you’re trying to give everyone a chance. Each week, four of them had to be left out and that was tough but it’s the coach’s job. They have to learn this is how it works.
To say to a player that he didn’t make the squad, is the worst part of being a Barcelona coach?
Without a doubt. We give a lot of explanations and perhaps we should be more direct. When there is an important match we try to excuse ourselves even though they will get angry because it’s the normal thing to do. We’d like that the 22 of them could enjoy of that day. I want to take advantage of this interview to congratulate the four of them that couldn’t play that day because they had a celebration attitude even better than some of their teammates.
Now that you’re talking about the squad, is it complicated to manage a person like Pablo Moreno who has 66 goals in one season?
Pablo is very good. He’s the most competitive player I have ever trained. It’s that drive that makes him special. I admire him because he’s always on the spotlight yet he takes it very well and calm. I’m very pleased with the change he’s doing in his control abilities. If he can succeed in that, which he is doing, he has a bright future although he has to take it step by step.
I suppose that before you arrive to La Masia you had an idea of what it was, do you still think the same or have you changed your mind?
I’m very surprised. From the outside it doesn’t seem that the club is so friendly. Actually, I have a spectacular relationship with all the coaches. You can see how the care about each other in the locker rooms aisle which is shared from the prebenjamin category to the cadet one, the relationship among them creates an excellent footballing environment. It’s the warmest club I have ever been.
If it’s in this way, is it responsibility of Jordi Roura and Aureli Altimira?
The truth is they are people who listen to you and give you great advices. They have the ability to analyze what we told them and they make the decisions as the responsibles. It’s one of the lucky things we got.
What has been the best moment [of the season]?
I believe we all are going to say the same thing but it’s the truth: it was the moment when the new signings could debut. These were kids who couldn’t play and no matter how much you tried to explain them, they couldn’t understand. The day they were finally able to play was the happiest one.
For the upcoming season, do you want to change anything or will you keep this season’s line of work?
When you just arrive, there are some things you can’t control like the schedules and we are fixing that little by little. You’re always trying to find a solution to improve their learning process.
One last question, define your first season in one word.
Anything wrong? Send your correction.
WRITTEN BY: Jaime Ibarra
Jaime is a chemical engineer from Venezuela who is passionate about football and Barça. He loves the club’s history and he has been an unconditional fan since Ronaldo “The Phenomenon” amazed the world with the Blaugrana colors.