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Paulo Fonseca: I love discipline

Saturday, June 18, 2016



Head coach of Shakhtar speaks about his first days of working in the Donetsk club

- Paulo, your debut week of working with Shakhtar is nearing the end. What initial results can you sum up?
- Actually, everything is going great and I have only the best impressions. The players understand the ideas that we want to get to them. We are also pleased by the welcome we received from the club. It is manifested through people who are trying to do everything to make us as comfortable as possible. I think I have never been happier in my life.

- How are you getting acquainted with the players? Are you satisfied with the footballers' commitment during training?
- Everything is going very well. To be honest, I did not expect this. I'm happy with how the players understand what we are asking of them. There are times during training when we can joke around, though, without forgetting about important things. We must be ready for the season, thus we are doing all the work necessary, but leaving time for rest as well. Sometimes you need to give the players a little break, so they can relax. On the whole, everything is fine, I am very happy.

- Starting from the first training sessions you dedicate a lot of time to tactical exercises. What goals are you planning to achieve by doing this?
- Our main goal right now is to convey the information we want to the players. Today, we are building the foundation for the team's future performance. You're right, we have given a lot of attention to tactics this week, namely building our defense. I am really focused on it now, since I believe that any team needs to understand how to play defense. But we also have a lot of strength exercises, we do a lot of running, develop physical strength - a bit of everything. And all these things combined are yielding good results.

- Are there any peculiarities of working with Ukrainian players? Prior to this, you have mostly coached Portuguese.
- Yes, I have had no experience with foreign players, with Ukrainian ones in particular. But I want to say that I am happy. The guys pick up everything quickly enough, they want to understand what we are trying to convey to them. I am very glad and happy to be working with people, whose mentality allows them to soak everything up like a sponge. It is very important.
Today, we are building the foundation for the team's future performance. We have given a lot of attention to tactics this week, namely building our defense. I am really focused on it now, since I believe that any team needs to understand how to play defense
- What challenges have you been faced with during this time?
- I can't say that we have faced any big challenges. Of course, we speak different languages, and it complicates things a bit. But based on the results of the first week I see that the guys are doing what we asked them. That is, the information has been properly conveyed to them, and that's good. It means that the players understood everything perfectly. It is very easy to see in their work. I was even surprised and, of course, satisfied.

- In a few days the team is leaving for to their first training camp. What are you going to work on in the Netherlands and how many friendlies do you have planned?
- First of all, we will continue to work on what we started. The second week will be harder with training being more intense. We will also have six friendly games, which will show how well we are working and whether the players understand everything. I sincerely hope that it will all be good. We will try to prepare as much as we can.

- Are all the players at your disposal going to the training camp?
- No, not all, since we have very many players and it is impossible to work with all of them. Therefore, we will leave some here. Shakhtar's footballers playing for the national team will also come to the Netherlands. We will gradually reduce the number of players on the team by discarding the ones we may not need.

- When will you announce the names of players who will not go with you?
- I think we'll have the list of players who are going to the training camp tomorrow. First of all, I will discuss the matter with the players, and then you will learn about everything.

- What are your impressions regarding the performance of Shakhtar players in their national teams in Euro 2016?
- Honestly, I did not watch the whole Ukraine - Northern Ireland match due to my tight work schedule. But from what I've seen, I can say that Shakhtar players were rather good. Obviously, when the team loses, every player loses personally. You might think from my reply that Shakhtar players were good, and the others bad, but that is not so. I will repeat myself: if the team loses, then everyone played bad.

- You are working not only on tactics, but on discipline as well. One of the punishment is pushups for being  late for a training session. Who does more of them on the team?
- (Smiles.) So far, there were almost no pushups. But this is not a punishment for being late for training. When they go to drink water, and we do not want a big pause between exercises, I would shout: "The last one back will do pushups!". Therefore, everyone is trying to sprint back quickly to doing exercises. On the one hand, this is a joke, but on the other it is a good example of setting discipline. By the way, I love discipline very much. Of course, the team can fool around when there is time, people should always be in a good mood. But there are rules and you need to stick to them.

- What Russian words have you learned during your first week?
- "Come out", "good morning", "press", "pressure", "ball without pressure", "water", "right", "left", "good"... I will continue studying and try to be prompt. Incidentally, I remembered another difficulty that we faced during training: mosquitoes! (Laughs.) It is very hard to work with so many mosquitoes.