To secure trophies

Friday, June 21, 2019



On June 21, they held a presentation of Luis Castro as Shakhtar manager

Before the press conference, the club CEO Sergei Palkin handed Luis Castro a personalized Shakhtar shirt and took the floor:

- Let me greet everyone! We have been following Mister for a very long time. A season ago, when we were negotiating with Paulo Fonseca, we weren’t sure that we would manage to reach an agreement and wanted to invite Luis Castro back then. But we signed a deal with Paulo and postponed that idea. When we received the information that Roma had invited Paulo Fonseca, we immediately contacted Luis Castro. We were lucky since he liked the idea of trying his hand at a club playing in the Champions League. And he moved to join us.

After that, the reporters were able to pose their questions to the Shakhtar manager.

- Luis, welcome to Shakhtar and we wish you good luck! During your coaching career, you worked a lot with young people and stressed the need to attract such players to the first team. Now the quality generation has grown up, including the football players who have become the U20 World Cup winners. There are also many young players on loan. Are you going to give any of them a chance on the training camp?
- Hello to everyone! I am very pleased to be here. Thank you for coming. I am happy to represent FC Shakhtar. I want to thank the club for their reception. I am really delighted at the fact that they’ve got such a structure here. As for your question, I consider the attributes - whether they are present or not. I do not look at anyone’s age. In my life, I worked with a huge number of young football players, many of them became international football stars. I hope this will also happen in Shakhtar, we will be able to develop the guys and give them the necessary qualities. It’s very important to look not individually but in the team context. There is no single player who can step it up independently, without the team. Our play will help each player to develop. I hope that the union of experienced and young players will bring Shakhtar victories.

- What will be the difference between Luis Castro’s Shakhtar and that of Paulo Fonseca?
- After signing the contract with Shakhtar, I noticed that our playing ideas with Paulo are very similar. We worked together with Fonseca at Porto. I know his ideas very well. Since then, we have been good friends. I also carefully approached his work here and was very happy about his success at Shakhtar. This will be a great example for us. Despite this, there is a certain specificity of daily work - it can vary slightly. In general, we really have a general idea: the team should always try to show some attacking football and be safe defensively. It’s very important that the defensive balance allows the attacking third guys to attack and not worry about the things happening behind their backs. It’s clear that dynamics of the game will be slightly different. But in terms of the attacking phase and finishing, we are on the same track with Paulo.

- There was information that Taison, Ismaily, and Taras Stepanenko might join Paulo Fonseca at Roma. How much will it affect your plans if it really happens?
- We are starting to prepare for the season with a certain list of players. Of course, football these days is very dynamic - there are outgoing and incoming transfers. We know very well that Shakhtar players are popular in Europe because they are in the club that wins. Thanks to the Champions League performance, they are in the spotlight. I think the administration of the club will be able to respond to this aggressiveness in the market. All the players are very important to us, and I would like to count on them. The ones you named, just like many others in the team, have some great qualities and we need them. And yet during the coaching career, I got used to losing players - this does not mean that we will stop fighting or turn away. Hope will never leave us, even if we lose some players. Nevertheless, we rely on them. This is important to achieve our goals for the season.

- You haven’t yet fully sorted the players out. How long will it take for you to address Sergei Palkin with a request to purchase certain players?
- I have already said that I was following Shakhtar due to several factors. Firstly, Luis Goncalves once moved here from Porto. Since then, I began to pay more attention to this club. I used not only the information he gave me, but I also watched the matches whenever possible. Later our paths with Paulo Fonseca crossed. We already had the opportunity to talk. In addition to watching Shakhtar matches in the Champions League, those people also gave me some information about the club. Yes, indeed, I know the squad not in the same way as the person who worked with the players daily. I know more the game that they have shown up to now. Of course, watching matches as an onlooker and getting to know the players personally in training are two different things. Now I feel absolutely comfortable with the players we have. It always takes time to get to know everyone better. Our training camps in Germany and Austria will help in that, and I am not only talking about psychology or personal qualities, but also about fitness, tactic, and technique. The analysis of those four factors is fundamental. We should know each player well. And it’s important to work for a certain period so that they respond positively to our demands.
- You said that you have been friends with Fonseca since working at Porto. Did you call Paulo before making the final decision?
- No, there was no call. I made a personal decision, looking at my career. There were several projects that I could have headed, plus a contract with Vitoria Guimaraes. Staying there was next to impossible because there were offers. But I didn’t need to ask Paulo’s advice about Shakhtar. I felt that I should talk to Fonseca afterwards, after signing the contract. Out of tremendous respect for the work he did here and our friendship. At one time I had already replaced Paulo in Porto. Now I’ve replaced him at Shakhtar, but in a slightly different context. I do not know, maybe in the future there will be Italy in my career? To replace Paulo again?
- Did you assess the level of Shakhtar's rivals in the domestic championship? What do you think about the state of Ukrainian football?
- Yes, I’ve watched a huge number of games. We are starting the league campaign with an away match in Oleksandriia, then we will play Karpaty and Dynamo. Those are three challenging opponents at the start. And our first match of the season is the Super Cup decider against Dynamo. We must be well prepared, given such a tense beginning. That is why I have already watched a lot of matches - to see what awaits us. Football teaches us that we should respect absolutely everyone. We know that throughout the league campaign, all the rivals will compete with us. In Ukrainian football, just as in the European arena, Shakhtar is an excellent role model. I want to say about my counterparts - the coaches of the opponents. I hope they will respect us because we will do the same. For me, it is a great privilege to play not only against teams but also against coaches. I think it will be very interesting. I see a great opportunity not only to meet with rivals but also, perhaps, to exchange ideas with the coaches.
- Yesterday, you conducted the first training session. What are your impressions of the team? Can you identify the major objectives for the training camps?
- As you understand, we have come to another country, and all our senses are sharpening - sight, hearing, smelling. We try to absorb the information that surrounds us. I am a very emotional coach. I like to communicate with people and feel everyone working with me. In this club, I felt some very positive energy. The professional organization of the top level. Despite the fact that I spent 10 years at Porto (at the Academy, Porto B, and the first team), after that I’ve felt great energy at Shakhtar. Here everyone wants to give their maximum: groundsmen, kitmen, administration ... It is a great honour for me to work here. I already know a little more than I had seen on TV before, and I understand that I made the absolutely correct decision to become a part of Shakhtar.
- According to statistics, Shakhtar does not play very well against Dynamo of Khatskevych. Under Paulo Fonseca, those were similar matches, when the Orange-and-Blacks showcased attacking football, changing next to nothing tactically, and, as a rule, not achieving a result. Are you ready to show tactical flexibility, to abandon your principles, to play as underdogs in certain cases?
- I think that these days we live in the world of statistics. But the most important thing is that it does not count for football. What counts is the next game and what is happening in it. No match is repeated, they are completely different. Yes, you are right, the encounters with Dynamo are always difficult. We will try to deliver the results and focus on that. But I think that we make a mistake if we look only at one opponent. It’s important to keep an eye on absolutely everyone and to have one hundred percent motivation in every match. Then, thanks to our work, we will be able to achieve positive results both against Dynamo and against other teams and to hold trophies in our hands at the end of the season. In the Champions League, we also have a goal of winning every game and of reaching at least the knockout phase. We will try to do it again. And now the most important thing is to focus on the nearest goal, and that’s the Super Cup. It’s important to move step by step, being properly and well prepared.
- It so happened that they already asked you all the questions that I had ...
- Let me then ask you a question. Do you like being a sports journalist?
- Of course, I do.
- And what club do you support? ... Please keep silent! Do not say that!
- There was information in the Italian press about Udinese being interested in Marlos and Marquinhos Cipriano ...
- We’ve got nearly no players: some go to Roma, some others to Udinese ... Who will play then? With each question asked, I see less and less players in our team.
- How well do you know the political situation in Ukraine? Shakhtar don’t play at home. How do you feel about this situation?
- I find it difficult to speak on this topic. We know and the world knows what is happening. I will not express any opinion. When this happens in Ukraine or other countries, I, like brother, son, and father, hope that there will be peace. I want all that to be over. The main thing is that people are happy and content. We all have a certain duty to work to ensure that our children are happy in the future. I look at the stadium that we have in Donetsk with great sadness - we cannot play there. We cannot have all those who really love us by our side. That’s the reality. We will try to please those who love us with what we can do. Even those who are far away from us know that the administration and the president of Shakhtar are all trying to keep the fans happy.
- You worked with some average teams in the Portuguese league, achieved good results, but those are not top-level teams. You had no goal of becoming the champions or selling a player for 40 million. How will you deal with this pressure here?
- Yes, I had the opportunity to work at Porto for several years, including the senior team. Then, really, I worked with the teams trying to qualify for the Europa League. Thanks to the players and the coaching staff, we managed to advance into this competition with Vitoria Guimaraes. What did I feel? Porto, Vitoria, Chaves, Rio Ave ... When you give your all to your job, when you conduct high-quality trainings, the players have the will to win. My biggest preoccupation is working well. So that our players, you and our fans are happy with our performance, so that we can achieve results. That's what drives me daily. My work will be done with the same devotion, regardless of the club I represent. Now my attention is focussed on Shakhtar only. We want to secure trophies.