Can you remember your first pre-season as a coach? How has pre-season changed?
Jesus: “Yes, that was in the mid-1990s, so it’s been more than 20 years! That was with Gimnàstic de Tarragona, now in the Championship in Spain. It’s changed massively. The game is still the same but the process is completely different. Thankfully, the Club provides us with great facilities in terms of staff and the budget to use the best technology in the market to help the players. That’s why we can say, today, footballers play football but there is a big team behind every player.”
Below: Jesus talks to the players in pre-season training this week
What has been the biggest change in pre-season over the years? For instance, in England, pre-season always used to be about long runs but now it seems to be shorter, sharper work and more ball work, earlier...
Jesus: “I think that was more cultural. At the beginning, football had influences from other sports like athletics but in the last 15, 20 years, football teams have their own methods, own theories, own principles. Everyone applies their principles in a different way. I cannot say here that running is bad for playing football, we can see different methods with different outputs. For me, it’s a combination, but most of all, you have to prioritise what the player needs. The player is a human being and as a human being, every day is different. One day the player can train a little more and you have to use that window but sometimes a player may have a bad day, maybe because of fatigue, maybe psychological fatigue, maybe family problems, perhaps just a bad mood and on this day, you have to adjust. You are never 100 per cent, you are never below your average. We have our way of identifying the players’ real state every day and adjust training in the way we need to.”
Below: Lads on a running drill
Are you enjoying it as much as ever?
Jesus: “Yes, of course. It was a real challenge before without pitches, without resources, without GPS because it was a case of applying common sense and feeling to training. Of course with technology you have the numbers but you have to identify which numbers are reliable. A footballer plays football and the way you help him improve is the most important thing, and the relationship with his team-mates, it’s a team sport, we can’t forget that. The training must be specific and the way to help the athlete must be specific as well. That’s the challenge and that’s the difference as well between clubs and staff. The theory is there, it’s about how we apply that theory and our experience that makes us different.”
The third and final part of Jesus on pre-season follows on Sunday.