- Interview Andoni Iraola: “Football has changed, but I don’t think for the worse”
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That New Year’s Day in 1978 it was difficult to stand on the slippery lawn of Vallecas. The rains in December, more abundant than usual in Madrid, had made the green quite bad and the precautions of the Rayo technical corps, headed by Rayo, were of little use. Hector nez and his physical trainer, Carlos lvarez del Villar. Since the beginning of the season, the Uruguayan had transferred his work sessions to Casa de Campo, the only enclosure available for a club without its own training facilities. Among the puddles of the popular sand field located next to the Meaques stream, that team had finalized its preparation for the match against Betis, scheduled for noon on January 1 and resolved with a 4-2, thanks to three goals from the Argentine. Paln Gonzlez on the mud. The victory consolidated the franjirrojos in third place in the league, only behind Real Madrid and Barcelona. After 18 days, Rayo had nine wins, exactly the same statistic that the team of Andoni Iraola.
The astonishing authority in his stadium validated that debutante in First, nourished by discards from his citizen neighbors, the nickname of Matagigantes. Only in the first round, Rayo had already beaten Sevilla (4-1), Real Madrid (3-2), Athletic (3-2), Valencia (3-0), Betis (4-2) and Atltico ( 2-0), resolving with 10 wins and a draw his first 11 matches in Vallecas. Today the Rayistas can boast of eight victories and a draw in nine games, the best average at home in LaLiga, at the level of Manchester City in the Premier, Bayern in the Bundesliga or PSG in Ligue 1. How has he achieved this newly promoted team get so strong at home? What should Betis fear today in Vallecas? Manuel Pellegrini? To find solid answers, it is convenient to look back at what happened four decades ago.
“On a physical level we were the best team in Spain. Nobody ran more than us, we were made of mules,” he explains to EL MUNDO Jos Gonzlez de la Vieja, Pot, a living legend of Rayo, about that winning streak of the 70s. “Álvarez del Villar led us to the rhythm of athletes in the Casa de Campo. The workload had a barbaric intensity: 20 minutes of continuous running before stretching, then progressions, changes of rhythm, circuits between the pines and multi-jump or flexibility exercises, “he adds Chus Landaburu, a then 22-year-old midfielder, recently signed from Real Valladolid.
With Miguel Muoz in the selection
Nez liked to show off to the press a group of professionals who applied like an amateur team. Upon his arrival in Vallecas, after being fired at Granada, he had trusted Álvarez del Villar, a renowned athletics technician who wanted to get closer to football. The teacher, as he was known in the locker room, he soon earned everyone’s respect. “He was the pioneer, a teacher,” he underlines lvaro Ruiz Ruiz, Alvarito, author of 12 goals during that course. “I know every meter of the Casa de Campo, the Zoo and the Amusement Park. But we were never injured. Even the rivals told us if we let’s put something “, jokes the former Cantabrian striker when recalling those double sessions, which ended up serving as the foundation for The physical preparation of soccer based on athletics (Gymnos, 1983), a key book in the modernization of training in our country, published shortly after Miguel Muoz would recruit him for selection. Although now it is almost inconceivable to us, it should be remembered that the Spain of Jos Emilio Santamara He had gone to the 1982 World Cup without a physical trainer.
Today, four decades later, the unquestionable legacy of Álvarez del Villar coexists with other areas of development in the Ciudad Deportiva del Rayo. In front of them is the physical trainer Pablo de la Torre, responsible for one of the best teams in LaLiga both in high intensity efforts per game and in number of sprints. As if that were not enough, it should be remembered that until the resounding outbreak of the Covid, Iraola had not had to regret any serious mishap, except for the knee injury of Martn merquelanz. “We have a fairly low incidence of injury. And this helps us to train and apply the maximum ability by availability, a factor that adds to the team’s achievements,” says De la Torre, in conversation with this newspaper. “Prevention in high performance is a chimera, since there are a large number of intangibles that do not depend on us. However, we can control factors that will help us reduce risk, understanding the injury as multi-ethnic and multifactorial “, adds this 32-year-old from Cuenca, whose success in care is evident in another data: only Ivn Arboleda Y Radamel Falcao, both with discomfort in the abductor, populated the nurse at the end of 2021.
The levels of force are a differentiating element, given the density of the calendar
“We knew about the importance of strength training to compete at high rates from the beginning of the season. And that may have allowed us to adapt more quickly to Primera, since the main difference between the categories is the pace,” says De la Torre, who has already worked with Iraola at AEK Larnaca and Mirands. “We also know that players with higher levels of strength are capable of recovering better and this seems like a differentiating element, given the density of the calendar,” he reveals. If it weren’t enough pride, suffice it to say that lvaro Garcia He is the fastest footballer in LaLiga, not only at top speed, above 35 km / h, but with an average maximum speed at the height of very few. In addition, Ivn balliu Y Fran garca they also excel at high intensity efforts. All three sneak into the top-5 of the championship in this physical section.
Iraola’s energetic plan, which orders long movements towards the rival camp, requires the enthusiastic follow-up of his men. Up to 11 of them – almost half of the squad – make their debut in the First Division. And this voracity to reach new goals, just as it happens with Matagigantes, has been making a difference. “We had very few means, but we were young and we really wanted. Hctor Nez was a dialoguing guy, a great motivator. His football was based on pressing up and going out on the counter attack”, reflects Landaburu.
“This high pressure that takes so much now, we already did it back then. And it didn’t cost us. The teacher He always said the same thing: ‘You have to suffer in training to have fun on Sundays.’ And we certainly had a good time. We took the ball away from Madrid and Bara! “, He proclaims Fermn Gutirrez, the only rayista with previous experience in the highest category. “We can conclude that physical preparation in the First Division was born in Vallecas. We trained as Spartans and returned to the field. Then we salted for an aperitif and we were all friends. At night we went with our women to play bingo,” reveals the former Madridista .
No money for the bus
Winds of plenty were blowing for the president, Marcelino gil, under whose mandate the stadium had been inaugurated. “Felines and I were the ones who talked to him the most, he appreciated us more than the rest for our veteran, “says Potele, a pure-bred Vallecano, one of those who came to the country on foot. roosters He gave us something more than 3,000 pesetas per head. And it paid well at ease. In fact, when he got to the booth, he already knew the next opponent who would come here, “completes the left-hander. Johan cruyff, Luiz pereira, Jos Martnez Pirri, Johan neeskens, Carlos Santillana or Rubn Ayala they were just some of the illustrious ones who bit the dust that course in Vallecas.
Unfortunately, that fairy tale did not last long for Gil, who resigned at the end of the course, fed up with some accounts that still did not balance. “They took away even the bus that took us to Casa de Campo because there was no money to pay for it,” reveals Fermn. It was another time. That of a football marked by illusion and precariousness. If a couple of anecdotes are enough, let’s say that Potele and Fermn, after the defeat at El Planto (2-1) lost the train at Burgos station and returned in the car of some fans. As unusual as the trip planned by Nez to Buenos Aires and Montevideo, when Alvarito showed up in Barajas dressed in a fox coat that he had bought for his wife, but was not allowed to go through customs. The fact is that in the summer of 1978, according to the figures of the members’ assembly, the club’s debt amounted to 41 million pesetas. The dreaded decline ended in 1980.
I see numerous similarities with our stage
Today, the era of Ral Martn Dam, punctuated by all kinds of institutional and social turbulence, at least it has the irrefutable backing of the results. “I am liking the team a lot. I already knew Iraola from his stay at the Mirands and he has put all the pieces together very well. He also has people of the stature of Sergi guardiola and Radamel Falcao “, says Alvarito, while Fermn delves into the potential of the Basque coach.” I see numerous similarities with our stage. And I am convinced that Iraola will not only lead Athletic one day, but will also be able to aspire to benches of even greater prestige “.
By his side they may continue Unai mendaTactical right-hand man, and the ever-enthusiastic De la Torre. “Far from seeing the limitation of material or human resources as a handicap, we have been able to extrapolate it and turn it into a strength,” he reveals with that feverish cordiality of someone who enjoys working. With this feeling for the strip that seems to have soaked through the technical department, Rayo can continue to dream of the Europa League. According to the Avenida de la Albufera, it is enough with bravery, courage and nobility.
Reference from elmundo