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Interview with Javier Aguirre

725/02/2011 - I have always admired Javier Aguirre.  In my view, he is an excellent manager that knows how to motivate and get the most out of all of his football players, particularly focusing on the mental and psychological aspect of the game.  His track record as a coach is very impressive, and I belive it is largely due to his ability to manage the human element of each of his teams.

He's had success with Pachuca in the mexican league  (winter championship in 1999), the Mexican National team (qualified for both WCs in 2002 and 2010), Osasuna (qualification to Champions League) and Atletico Madrid (Champions League qualification after a 12-year absence in this competition).

Nowadays, Aguirre has a new challenge:  rescuing Real Zaragoza from relegation in the Spanish First Division.  Although at first sight it appears to be a difficult task to achieve (given the team´s lackluster performance prior to his arrival) ¨el Vasco¨ is a specialist in rescuing struggling teams and leading them to achieve their goals.

I had the opportunity to ask Aguirre some questions to find out how he motivates and maximizes the performance of his players:

Diego Valdés - MotivaGOAL - In your opinion, what is the key to getting the most out of a group of football players?

Javier Aguirre - In football you must work on various aspects in order to maximize the performance of a group.  There are many elements one must consider, such as the physical, technical and tactical aspects of the game, but also it is very important to stress the psychological factor.  In order to maximize the performance within a team, it is imperative to combine all aspects in a way in which each member of the group can positively contribute the most out of oneself.
Diego Valdés - MotivaGOAL - How much do you work on the psychological/motivational aspect during your training sessions

Javier Aguirre - As I mentioned earlier, the psychological element plays an important role, taking into account the fact that we are dealing with human groups made up of twenty individuals.  I couldn´t say a specific working percentage ratio, however, it is definitely an important aspect.  Nowadays, football is a very evenly-matched game throughout the world, therefore it is very important to get the most out of the performance of your group by focusing on aspects such as motivation.

Diego Valdés - MotivaGOAL - In order to reach a common goal, it is imperative that all involved row in the same direction.  How do you deal with a player that is not entirely convinced with your project?

Javier Aguirre - Everyone must be very clear on the fact that you can only reach a common goal by having all involved pushing in the same direction.  We all know that football is a team sport, and therefore, personal objectives must always be superseded by a common goal.  Football players must be very clear on this.  I believe that the majority of them already have this idea very clearly defined, given that they are professionals that have been taking part in this sport for many years.  In any case, all players must realize that only by working together with one common objective can this be achieved.

Diego Valdés - MotivaGOAL - Since your arrival in Zaragoza we have seen a change in the team's attitude and performance.  Could you briefly comment how you have dealt with this situation?
Javier Aguirre - From day one, what we did was be clear on the fact that this group of players was more than capable of overcoming this difficult situation.  The team had played many matches where they had deserved much more than what they had obtained.  You could tell that there was work and preparation behind all of that.  Perhaps what they needed was to have their confidence boosted and be given the reassurance to belive in their ability to turn this situation around.  That has been a major focus of our work here.  It is clear that we haven´t achieved anything yet and that we still have a lot of work ahead of us.  That´s where we are at now.  

Diego Valdés - MotivaGOAL - What advice would you give to young managers that are starting out in the world of football?

Javier Aguirre - It's never easy for one to offer out advice, but perhaps the most important thing that can be said to someone starting out is to work hard without expecting short-term results.  Work, perserverance and the determination to continuously learn are some keys to keep in mind.  Nothing can guarantee you will have success, but certainly if you do not have all of the above-mentioned, what will be guarateed is failiure.

Good luck the rest of the season, ¨Vasco¨.  I would like to thank you for the time you have dedicated to MotivaGOAL.

                  Photograph with Javier Aguirre - 2004, El Sardinero, Santander

Below I have included Javier Aguirre´s most important achievements as a football manager:
  • 1998-99 - Winter Championship with Pachuca, Mexican League
  • 2001-02 - Qualification to 2002 World Cup, Mexican National team
  • 2005-06 - Copa del Rey Final Copa and  UEFA Cup qualification Osasuna
  • 2005-06 - Champions League qualification with Osasuna 
  • 2006-07 - Named ¨Best Football Manager of the Year in Spain¨
  • 2008-09 - Qualification to Champions League with Atlético de Madrid (after a twelve-year absence for the club)
  • 2009-10 - Qualification to the 2010 World Cup, Mexican National team

Note:  I would like to personally thank Real Zaragoza's press department for having made this interview possible.

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