Mircea Lucescu: I repeat – I demand that we be respected!
On the eve of the game with Dynamo, the Pitmen’s head coach has answered journalists’ questions.
- Mister, you have attended the Ukraine national team match, which featured many Shakhtar and Dynamo players. How would you assess the actions of both teams’ players in this game?
- In general, I want to note that the Ukraine team played quite well. Perhaps, in some way, there was no luck; no composure in the final stage of the attack: they wanted to solve everything only through their physical condition, power. But they committed errors in defence against opponents, who play in entirely different leagues that are, unfortunately, stronger that our domestic championship. Spain’s attacking players created big problems for our defence. But I am sure that if the Ukraine national team perform in the play-offs with the same spirit and with the same intensity as against Spaniards, they can make it to the European Championship, regardless of the opponents, whom they may face. We have a good national team, who demonstrate football of quite a high quality.
- Very often, after the international break, Shakhtar would face the teams, whose players were not called up for international duty. Back then you were talking about imbalance. Do you think Dynamo and Shakhtar are in the same condition now?
- In this regard, there will be parity. A full stadium, which will put pressure on us, and the home team players, and, perhaps, the referee, will be on the side of Dynamo. But I do not want to see the situation which happened in our game with Dnipro, when refereeing clear mistakes led to us losing three points, take place in the upcoming match. Those three points now separate us from Dynamo. Therefore, now we are not on a par with Dynamo on points, as we should be! I repeat what I said in the Champions League before the match with Real Madrid and PSG: the only thing I demand is to be respected! And, of course, I would like to finish the match with eleven players with no one sent off.
- Mister, before the Ukraine match, you communicated with Jose Mourinho. He is said to have come to watch Alex Teixeira too...
- No, we have not even touched on these issues. We talked about our former players, in particular, Willian, and Chelsea’s difficult situation in the Premier League. And then, if you noticed, he stepped aside and watched the game so that no one could disturb him. Jose Mourinho was watching what was going on the field very closely. I am sure his thoughts were about the match with Dynamo. Plus, he must have watched players of his team, who play for the Spain national team. I assume that as any coach at such games he was thinking about some possible transfers: maybe Yarmolenko, maybe Teixeira, maybe Konoplyanka, who played quite convincingly in the match against Spain. Any of the players who were on the field could be the object of interest, especially since the footballers are playing quite consistently.
- After your conversation with Mourinho, Willian scored two goals for Brazil. Perhaps now Jose will come to you more often, won’t he?
- As I said, one of the topics of our conversation was just Willian. Mourinho said that he was satisfied with his performance. But he said that, unfortunately, he doesn’t score enough scores. Willian netted two goals in the league, then he went on to score twice in a match for the national team. In any case, he is still a young footballer. Such a high level of performance sees players, who are aged circa 27-28, when much experience has already been gained. And the young guys perform at the level of Shakhtar and similar teams: they grow, with becoming experienced and accomplished players. We are laying players' foundation, and then everything depends on them. I think that in this regard we have done more than some European football giants.
- Mister, has the meeting between the Premier League coaches and the FFU management brought anything interesting?
- There were opinions, conversations. Some points concerning the format of the championship. We talked about the young players who could play as well as the number of substitutions that could be made. That is, we touched on many issues. I am sure that Ukrainian football should be reorganised, taking into account the current realities. But I think it will not be solved by the coaches - they come and go. Perhaps, it will be presidents, who will make decisions. They will stay and think more about the interests of the clubs, not the quality of football. Unfortunately, often paramount importance is given to financing rather than entertainment. I still have the same view. The first and most important thing that should be done is to bring fans back to the stadiums. It is not normal when that match with PSG in the Champions League saw a packed stadium, and three days later our game is attended by just a thousand fans. This means that people come to watch football of high quality and high level of intensity, and they are less interested in the domestic championship. No wonder why the matches between the leading clubs saw 40-60 thousand people in the stands. I offer playoffs and play-outs. In each group, the teams will be about the same level. Naturally, fans want to see their clubs win. But for the team from the bottom of the table it must be very difficult to beat Shakhtar and Dynamo. And when they fight for places among each other, there may be various results. Then the fans will have more hopes of their team winning.