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JUANDE'S FORWARD THINKING

Posted on 29 February 2008  - 12:00

Back to business - that's the message from Juande Ramos as we prepare to step back into the league arena after our Wembley triumph last weekend.

Back to business - that's the message from Juande Ramos as we prepare to step back into the league arena after our Wembley triumph last weekend.

The Head Coach reports that the lads have knuckled back down to the hard work on the training ground after the euphoria of beating Chelsea to lift the Carling Cup on Sunday and are gearing up for a real test at Birmingham City on Saturday.

Juande is fully aware that a trip to St Andrews represents as tough a challenge as we could have faced this week with the Blues riding high after snatching a dramatic 2-2 draw against Arsenal despite being down to 10 men for most of the game.

In fact, Alex McLeish’s men have drawn four of their last six games - including home and away draws against Arsenal - as they fight for survival. Last weekend's point lifted them out of the bottom three.

“We have to focus again on the Premier League,” said Juande. “We must improve on our position and from now until the end of the season we have many points to win.

“We have to live every game as it comes and every competition as it comes hoping that we can do our best in every game and try to win every game.

“Drawing against a team that is top of the league shows Birmingham are working hard and that they will be a very difficult team to beat.”

Here is the full interview with Juande…

Let’s look back at the Carling Cup Final – when you arrived at the club, could you have imagined that you would be leading the team to a trophy at Wembley?
Juande: “When you come to a club you have the intention of working hard and doing well and when you go into your first final you really want to win it. The players have been working hard, the plan worked well, all the pieces were in place and the result was winning a trophy. We’re all very, very happy.”

How proud are you of the team?
Juande: “The important thing is that every single department of the club has worked with us to get where we are at the moment. The players have worked magnificently and have given a real push to reach the point where we are at now. Everyone is part of this success at the club.”

How difficult has it been to get the players re-focused after such a high at Wembley?
Juande: “There is no problem because the players are very professional. Now we have to focus again on the Premier League.”

How much is everyone looking forward to the rest of the season – there is so much more to play for.
Juande: “The league and UEFA Cup are two very important competitions and we must improve on our position in the Premier League. From now until the end of the season we have many points to win. We will also try our best to progress in every round of the UEFA Cup.”

How much will the Wembley win do in terms of the team pushing on for the rest of the season?
Juande: “We can’t think too far into the future. My philosophy with the teams I work with is always to focus game by game. What we don’t want to do is focus just on the league or just on the UEFA Cup or look too far ahead. We have to live every game as it comes and every competition as it comes hoping that we can do our best in every game, win every game. We can’t expect to reach another final without hard work.”

You haven’t suffered too many disappointments but losing at home to the late goal against Birmingham was one of them. How determined are you to avenge that defeat on Saturday?
Juande: “I never think of games that are in the past. You move on. Yes, that was a strange game because we were winning and then lost to that late strike, but we are not thinking about revenge against Birmingham. I never really think that way.”

It’s never easy to face a team facing their own battle at the bottom of the table, especially away from home. How are you approaching the game?
Juande: “Playing teams are the top or at the bottom, they all want to win to improve their position. Every game is hard in this league and we have to try our best to try and win every game.”

How do you rate Alex McLeish?
Juande: “He is doing some fantastic work at Birmingham and since he’s arrived his team has improved. Drawing against a team that is top of the league shows they are working hard and they will be a very difficult team to beat.”

To sum up, what potential can you see at the club in the long-term - especially as we have a trophy under our belts already?
Juande: “I’m very happy here. The club is well structured, I’m happy in my job and we have lots of possibilities for the future. However, we must not rest on our laurels and we must try to improve as a team all the time. We have a great club with great support and we have to try and compete with the best teams in England.”

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