Julen Lopetegui talked to Adam Bates of Sky Sports this week and this is what we learnt about the boss.
Influence of Johan Cruyff
Julen talked about how he was lucky to have been coached by some great managers with Javier Clemente, Radomir Antic, John Benjamin Toshack all having great influence on him as a player but it was Johan Cruyff his first coach at Barcelona with the biggest impact changing his mentality.
This is what Julen had to say about Johan.
“Johan was different, he started making me think about why I was doing things as a goalkeeper and the solutions we were trying to find. He started me thinking about the answers in the play. Until that moment, I did not think, I just played. The coach told me what I had to do and I did it but without real conviction. He was very different for me. He had his own way of managing people.”
On hearing this you have to wonder whether Julen can have the same impact on some of the Wolves players and maybe can be the influence Adama Traore needs.
Julen’s impact at Wolves
Julen has restored some belief in the Wolves faithful and it seems also in the players and the team as a whole. Since taking charge there is only Fulham outside of the top three with more wins than Lopetegui’s Wolves team. Let’s hope the defeat to Bournemouth was just a hiccup on the journey but is an indication that there is more work needed to ensure survival in the Premier League.
What Julen had to say
“Your main work as a coach is to develop the skills of the players. We want to be a strong team in all the phases. I say to the players all the time that you need to aim for perfection. It does not exist but it is a very good aim, knowing that we can improve.
“Sometimes we will win, sometimes we will lose, but you have to come in every day with a big energy to improve. I try to give the team belief, to show them that they can compete with any team in the Premier League, while knowing that any team can beat you.
It’s been nearly full year since we saw a goal by a Wolves striker and Wolves have clearly been struggling in front of goal on the whole but Julen believes this problem is just a matter of time and that strikers are working hard and will be rewarded.
“We have to improve the situation. It is true that our strikers have not scored but they work hard for the team. They say that the luck finds you when you are working hard.”
Julen Lopetegui went on to talk about the important of the defence and the team keeping a clean sheet. He went on to praise the impact of Craig Dawson and how his attitude and experience in the dressing room has had a positive impact.
Craig Dawson was integral to the clean sheet that Wolves kept against Liverpool and the team were rewarded with a meal in Birmingham paid for by Julen Lopetegui. The coach hopes to make this a tradition if Wolves can keep more clean sheets between now and the end of the season he believes it to be a good investment and would like to cough up for this more.
“Football is about the defensive phase and the attacking phase if you want to beat the opponent. Without both, it is impossible. That is why the clean sheet is important. To have a clean sheet allows you to beat the opponent in just one moment.”
Wolves favourite song of the moment sings of ‘Super Lopetegui’ and the fans have certainly taken to the new boss but Lopetegui is not one to steal the spotlight and feels the focus should be on the players and it is just his and the coaching teams job to help them achieve their full potential.
“I am grateful for the love of the fans. But football is for the players. They are the main actors. We are, all of us, the staff, the whole club, here to help them develop in the best way. But they are the ones out fighting for the club on the pitch.
“We have to stay one step behind the team. Always. It is the team that has to feel the support of the fans because it is going to be key in these last moments of the season. It is going to be hard for a lot of teams and you have to be strong until the end.”
Wolves mantra is ‘hard work’ and Lopetegui intends to install this into his players
“I am happy with the commitment of the players, they work hard every day. But we need points. We have to be ready for the race. We have to have this mentality. We are in the middle of the storm now. We are in the middle of the river. We have to keep working.”