Interview: Felix Magath on the Chinese Super League and Luneng
On the evening of April the 20th Shandong Luneng and former Bayern Munchen and Fulham coach Felix Magath was a guest on the local Shandong Sports Broadcasting radio (FM102.1), to talk about the recent succes of Shandong Luneng in the Chinese Super League.
Magath said in the interiew that he is hoping to help Luneng and Chinese football develop, and is aiming for a finish in the top of the table.
This season is your second year in China, and the team started with 4 wins and 1 loss, and compared to last season Luneng seem reborn. What is the reason?
For me to come to Luneng in June last year was very difficult. The main goal of that half of the season was to survive, in a league that was completely unfamiliar to me, with players I did not know, so this was indeed more difficult. We are no longer in a relegation battle and now need to focus on different things.
And preparing for the season is a very important part, right?
A good preparation for us is very important especially the physical aspects, where we can build a very good base to compete for a full season. Now we have had a very difficult schedule and have had some luck and back luck here and there, which is of course something you can not prepare for.
But things as scoring quickly in the second half against Guangzhou Evergrande gave the players confidence to secure the victory.
Everybody says that luck is always favoring those who are prepared
That is a very good proverb, and I fully agree that full preparation is half the battle.
Although the team made a good start, the pressure is still great. The team is preparing for the game against Chongqing Lifan, and the pressure on yourself is also great, not in the last place because last season they have beaten us. Can you reveal how you prepare for this game?
I very much agree with your argument, we have had a good start, but the season is long. If we play well this weekend and get the three points, we might just pull a gap with the teams behind us. In the same way I also talked to our players, not to get complacent after 5 good games. We want to continue this momentem, win more games, and bring more joy to the fans.
Just being able to use three foreign players, can you reveal your ideas about this?
First of all, all teams are facing the same problems. The season is a long process, I want to give all players all players the same chances, including the foreign players. If I don’t do this the players might get problems motivating themselves. Once someone gets injured this opens op new opportunites for others, and I would like to use these.
Now specifically to our situation, we have foreign players in both defense and attacking lines, and they give us lots of stability. Pelle for example is a stable player in our system, he has the ability to handle the ball well and to hold up play, he has good finishing and is technically strong, but also knows how to use his strength very well.
Then we have Cisse and Tardelli, two very good strikers who are both flexible, have the ability to attack and get in behind the defense. In my opinion Pelle needs those kinds of players around him on the field.
Young players have really taken responsibility this season, such as Wu Xinghan, Liu Binbin, Liu Junshu, and other players. What are your thoughts on this?
In my opinion, the team is very much responsible for these young players, and it is the task of older players to help the youngsters grow. Having both younger players and more experienced ones in your team is very good. The players you mentioned are no longer considered young players, they need to be aware of their responsibilies now.
Then what are your expectations for this season? What is your objective?
I put a lot of pressure on myself to always get more, we do not want to stay or end up in the middle. The current task is to keep building on the good start that we’ve had, continue to play well, and continue the good momentum.
I can not predict the future, I can not know what will happen by the end of the season. We will work very hard, all of us, to make the very best of this season and our goal for the end of the season is to end up not worse than where we are now.