Following a busy 24 hours, the official Chelsea website sat down with the new manager on Friday afternoon to discuss his arrival, preferences on shape and style, and Manchester City as a first opponent…
Rafa, welcome to Chelsea. What are your initial thoughts of the club?
I am really pleased with the attitude of everyone. Everyone wants to help, and when you are someone new who needs to learn things it is good. All the staff, not just the coaching staff, have been really good.
How have you found the players?
Good. They are keen to learn, keen to learn new ideas and ready. They have the right mentality.
You put them through a couple of tough training sessions…
Well, if you analyse the time we were working for, it was not so long. Normally the time of the training session is around an hour and 15 minutes. It was an effective time though, and there was lots of talking too.
You brought the 4-2-3-1 shape to England, it’s now very fashionable…
I used this system in Valencia and even Tenerife, also I think in Extremadura. It depends on the players you have. If you have one striker, then the second striker has to be very offensive, and the wingers have to be very offensive if you are to score goals. Also one of those central, deeper midfielders, has to be offensive, it is not just two holding midfielders. If they are more defensive, then you need offensive full-backs, you have to find that right balance. The idea of one striker and three players with freedom and an offensive mentality is interesting.
Is that the shape you will use here?
Before I have used 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 5-3-2, but because this is the shape Chelsea have been using until now, I think at this moment this is the best shape for the team. You cannot change too many things, we have to do the things they were doing well, carry on with these things and then change the other little things.
People say your Liverpool wasn’t an attacking team. Are they right?
We scored 119 goals in the 2008/09 season. People don’t see the difference between a team that is organised with balance and a team that is defensive. We had a lot of clean sheets, I remember Petr Cech and Pepe Reina were always competing, but we liked to go forward and score goals. If you look at the stats we had attacking mentality. Sometimes when you are attacking you are defending better.
Do the players here suit a very attacking game?
Yes, especially the three small players, and even the players on the bench have a very good attacking mentality, and the quality, so they can do it. Again, we have to look for the balance, but we have good mentality.
Does the squad have enough depth?
At this moment it is fine, but we have to think about the rest of the season and have to manage with the players we have available. We have some injuries and have to be careful.
What is the team news ahead of Manchester City on Sunday?
We have another training session still, but Daniel Sturridge is not fit, as well as JT and Lampard.
And finally, what do you think of Manchester City as a first game in charge?
It is a tough first game, at the top of the table. They are a very strong team physically, but they have pace, ability. The strikers they can change, they have two they can change in who are as good as the first two. They have Silva, Nasri, Toure, who are all very dangerous, they are strong in defence and have a strong goalkeeper, so it is a tough, tough team to play against but okay, this is the Premier League, and when you want to compete and to win, it has to be against these teams.