Hi Javi, you said the win over Southampton was really important in terms of confidence. So how do you now go about refocusing the players’ minds for return to the Premier League out of Saturday's trip to Chelsea?
I think all my players are focused on the next game and know the importance of the points at play. It’s true we are coming from FA Cup game where we got a defeat but in my opinion this game was good for us as well because we did many things well. It’s true we got a bad result but with many options during the game to change the dynamic, creating chances. We were a little bit unlucky, we didn’t finish with composure. But I’m happy with the way we competed. Now we are focused on the next game against Chelsea, it will be a tough game at a great stadium against a great team. I think the player are focused.
What do you make of Chelsea? They’re clearly in a bad run of form now, just two wins from their last 15 in the Premier League, what do you make of that and can you take confidence from that?
The confidence we have is in the work we are doing, not about the rivals. I respect a lot the team but we expect a demanding game and a tough game and it’s up to us to be ready for that.
Georginio Rutter started on Tuesday night and had a goal disallowed. How satisfied were you with his performance and do you have a decision to make about bringing Bamford back in or going with them both?
It’s an option. Some of you asked me about it after the game. It’s an option, a real option, to play with two players up front. In this case in the last game I’m happy with the way Georginio played. What I’m not so happy about is the goal disallowed. In my opinion it was really, really soft and after watching, really soft. In my opinion that circumstance can change the game and during the game it was the same in the second half. Before they scored we had one clear chance with Weston giving a good pass for Summerville, we were really close and that’s why I’m a bit disappointed because we wasted a good chance to get a better result. Now, speaking about the next game I think it’s a good option to play two players up front, whoever it is, with Georginio, with Patrick, with Rodrigo, with Aaronson, with all the attackers we have in the club.
Can you provide an update on the likes of Pascal Struijk, Liam Cooper, Max Wober?
I know you are really concerned about injured but don’t worry they are in the best hands to recover as soon as possible. I don’t like speaking about players because I don’t want to give information about players. To be honest, some of them, today, I don't know if they will be ready or not. The main reason is not only that, I don’t want to speak about injured players.
Understood. You mentioned fine margins, you had more shots on target, you hit the woodwork and had a goal disallowed, is it just those fine margins in games?
It depends on many things, quality, luck, composure, calmness, many things and what you have to do is try to finish well and we still have a young team and we have to improve but the only way you can improve is having more chances and live that experience. We need the goals, it’s true that in the last game we had 16 shots and 12 of them were inside the box. The other team had six, three in the box and they scored two goals. The stats are clear but football is not stats, you have to improve the chances you have and you have to work on it. It depends on us.
Realistically, you've been at quite a few clubs, how long does it take you as a head coach to have the team playing how you want them to play?
It depends because sometimes in a few days, you are able to see the team playing in a way you like but of course with time you can work on more things, we can prepare with set pieces, the way we want to play, defend and attack and give them players more options. Now we are preparing day to day for the next game. I think we are well prepared but if you have time and living experience, I think will be better.
Do you feel this group that you have are learning quickly?
Yeah. They are good students. They learn very fast and not only are they good players, I think they have the right attitude. They have high commitment, I think, with the club, not only with me but with the club.
Graham Potter has come under some fierce criticism from fans and elsewhere. In your coaching career, have you ever had to deal with anything like that and if you have, how do you deal with it?
The only way you change the different opinions about you is with results, it’s the only way. What I can say is my opinion about Graham Potter and my opinion is fantastic. He’s a fantastic manager. I wish all the best for all the management, of course the next game we try to win.
You did have a very big win against Chelsea when you were at Watford, 4-1, how did you manage to do that and can you remember that very well?
I remember it perfectly. It was my second Premier League game, my first game at home, and like here, it was my third but my second Premier League game. Like here, I played another FA Cup game. I had Stoke first and then we had the FA Cup game, it was the third and in the third we won against Chelsea and I hope we can do the same. My third game I try to get the same result.
It was a very tough game, we were a little bit lucky because (Tiemoue) Bakayoko took a red card and we played well but it helped us a little bit. It was a great result.
You mentioned this squad is full of great students, are you surprised at how quickly they’ve adapted to you?
I want to be honest with you, when I arrived, they had worked many times before with other managers and staff and I think they did their job. You can do what you can do in the time you are training with them. Of course I tried to give them different options to attack and work on it or to defend and try to be more compact, all the balance that I thought we needed. You have the time that you have and you are a little bit limited. But, with the attitude they have and the quality they have to lift, we spent together working and preparing the next game, of course I believe in the team and I think they are playing now with a balance and in different moments we want to play. This way I am sure we have more chances to get the results we need. That’s the things we are doing in video and training session, it’s what we can do.
In terms of the last two games, you beat Southampton and played well at Fulham but didn’t get the result, you must be pleased with how quickly it’s coming together?
In my opinion, they were together before coming as well. It’s true the results were not good but now we’ve played against Southampton, we’ve changed the dynamic and it was important for the confidence, for the atmosphere, for all these things. Now we need to keep going. We know how difficult it is to win one point, not one game, one point in the Premier League, you have to be constant and be very demanding with ourselves. We want to continue getting points.
Have you got a figure in mind in terms of number of wins or a point total that you think will be enough to make sure Leeds is a Premier League club next season?
I have one idea, a clear idea about it. We need the next three points, those points, we need them. We focus on that and try to make the effort now today and not wait for the next one. It doesn’t help us to overlook.
When a team has struggled like Chelsea and the crowd might be a little tense how important could an aggressive start be?
I think it’s important to start very aggressive, to continue very aggressive and to finish more aggressive. To go to Stamford Bridge is always very tough and I have that experience and I know how demanding the game. In this moment and the necessity they have in terms of points, we have to be very focused and prepared.
You’ve had a midfielder dropping between the centre-backs to take the ball, what’s the general idea and what does that help with?
These kind of movements where the midfielders try to go in between or on the side, the objective is clear, to try to generate superiority against two strikers and try to start with more space and time to provoke something in the next line and create superiority. It’s one way we have to play against teams with strikers.
You mentioned on Tuesday about the problems with finishing and the only way to improve that is by training, working on finishing in training, can you talk us through how hands-on you are on the training pitch and how you and your coaches’ roles work with the players?
We try to know the training sessions, we try to get players to have the information they need to compete better. All the exercises are prepared with one objective, try to feel what in the next game they are going to do, anticipate in different situations and feel more comfortable in the next game. That’s the objective, to feel well-prepared with the information they need to give their best in the next game.
You’ve talked about playing with two strikers, in that system how would that change the roles for your wingers?
In my opinion, it doesn’t change too much. They have to do the defensive work the same way, they have to do something else defending but not too much. We don’t work to deny our offensive mentality, they have to be important in attacking, in one v one situations, in our attacks, we don’t want to limit them playing.
You've said a couple of times that when you first came your impression of the team was that the performances were okay but they were not getting the results, but what did you most want to change about the team when you first saw it? What was your priority to change?
My priority was try to look for the balance they need to be better defending and without letting our offensive mentality. I think this team is very brave but at the same time it’s young and we need the experience they don’t have but as a team try to create the mechanism we need to be solid and compact like we did in the last game, the Southampton game, to not concede any goals and keep a clean sheet.
When it comes to finishing the chances, do you believe that's something you can coach in players?
Yeah, it’s my work. I don’t know if I’m going to get it but I have to think I can do it and have to help the players improve. We have to first during the game create chances to score the goals we need and individually we try in training more time to give them the confidence they need and the security they need. It’s true in the game you have to do it, I’m not there to finish with them or tell them to do this or that, but I have to help them during the sessions with confidence, with my support, mentally help them this way.