Marcelino was interviewed in El Pais recently--here are some highlights from a wide-ranging interview.
Q: Why did you change the entire Villarreal attack this season?
A: We didn't want Vietto and Gerard to leave. Atleti paid the release clause for Vietto, and Gerard had a good proposal from Espanyol, and I couldn't promise him a starting role. Uche and Gio were less successful, and we wanted to change the face of our attack. We ended up with four new forwards. And we didn't have many wingers last season. Cheryshev, who we wanted to obtain, and Campbell went back to Madrid and Arsenal. And Moi Gomez wasn't able to settle as a starter and we thought it would be good to loan him out (to Getafe). Instead we brought in four new players, and promoted Nahuel from the B team.
Q: Do you have more variety of attack now?
A: The strikers are always seeking to be mobile, quick, with good play between the lines, with the wingers also putting the ball in. They give us more variety and competiveness. We're delighted with the four strikers. The two Samus (Garcia and Castillejo) give us depth and balance. Denis Suarez gives us an inside game from outside, he's a good passer, similar to Cazorla or Cani. In the last third of the field we are a more precise and definite team than last season.
Q: Soldado is a different player from the one we saw with Valencia?
A: Now he seems to be as a total striker. He drives counterattacks, participates in the three-quarters area, makes good decisions, follows up, passes well. He is a team player and has a great winning character. The last two years (at Tottenham) he might have been at a lower competitive level; now, physically and mentally, he's at a good age and time of his career. He is humble, hardworking and prioritizes the team. He's finding his professional and personal level.
Q: What does Bakambu bring?
A: A good game in back, much speed and a lot of chances in the scoring area, and hopefully goals.
Q: And Baptistao?
A: He's powerful, he's 23 but has little experience at the professional level. He's a very technical player because he comes from futsal. I know him from the youth system at Rayo when he played with my son.
Q: Who makes the signings for Villarreal?
A: We all do. I have a say in decisions and we don't sign any player without me being asked for my opinion. We know all the players in the Spanish league quite well. And for players elsewhere, the Technical Secretariat makes a very comprehensive analysis and then asks me. Signings are the hardest thing in the world.
Q: In defense, you have changed very little.
A: We trusted the players we have. Musacchio of course has been injured. Victor Ruiz has adapted perfectly. Mario is one of the best fullbacks in the league, and Jaume Costa is a superregular player. When I arrived neither was starting in the Segunda. (ed: yep, Javi Venta was starting at RB over Mario, if you can believe that, and Jaume Costa was splitting time with Joan Oriol)
Q: No selfish players?
A: No, not one. Soldado has come in and he's the most humble, the most winning and most team player. Bruno is the reference point for this team and he is the team player, the worker, who is always the first and the most successful. Those that have been with me for two and a half years, every day are better in all aspects, don't get tired of training, respect their comrades. We have an extraordinary group.
Q: What do you think about Bruno?
A: He could play in any team in Europe. In the best of England, the best of Germany and of course Spain. Also we have Pina, who plays well with him, has substitued for him when he's been injured and has had a tremendous progression. And with Jonathan dos Santos and Trigueros, this position is the best covered in the template.
Q: You've said for some time that the Spanish national team, being in its splendor, was boring. What do you think now?
A: The same. It bores me that a team has 80% possession and only three chances at goal.....our objective is to try as many shots as we can.
Q: You agree with Jurgen Klopp.
A: That's what I love. There have always been very good teams. In recent times I enjoyed the first two years of Guardiola's Barca, who were extraordinary, who tested the keeper, and each time they did more. And Klopp's Dortmund. i saw what could be done, I was excited to see the verticality, the speed, the combinations.
Q: Now, what teams do you like?
A: I still like Barca, they are more vertical than they were. Madrid has extraordinary moments. I also like Atleti and Sevilla. I like teams that are identified with a winning idea and can complete against other teams at a higher footballing level. That's what Emery has done the last couple of years with Sevilla and Cholo with Atleti. Bayern seeks the goal even more than Guardiola did with Barca. In England I do not see any team that excites me.
Q: Villarreal has been an attacking side, cheerful, very attractive to watch, but also has given up many goals and was especially vulnerable to the large clubs. Is that different now?
A: I hope so. Time will tell. I think all the good teams are strong in the back. If you have a lot of offensive potential, you have to combine that with a great defensive potential to be champion. Madrid last season weren't champions of anything because they weren't defensively sound. Barca, yes. That's the difference. Mardid won the Champions League two seasons ago in large part due to the performance of their two centerbacks against Bayern. Barca's best time coincided with Pique and Puyol. Two of the most important players in the league when Atleti won were Godin and Miranda. When you have to play an opponent of the same level, who defends better wins.