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Interview With Henk ten Cate


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Taken from the Official Site:

Sat, 20th Oct 2007

Henk ten Cate, the man Avram Grant chose to work alongside Steve Clarke as his two assistant first team coaches, this week began work at Chelsea.

With Grant having expressed his desire to take a different direction in playing style while respecting the achievements of the recent past, he is looking to Ten Cate to play a big part in realising the aim through efforts on the training pitch.

For Ten Cate, it's a task he relishes, although he is preaching patience, first in his early days in the job, and on the road to the chosen goal.

He spoke to chelseafc.com ahead of his first game as a Chelsea coach, today at Middlesbrough.

You started coaching the players for the first time on Thursday?

No, I was just watching. And on Friday I was watching too. If you arrive somewhere new, you have to learn about the players and the players have to learn about you. It is not a good thing to jump directly on their backs and say things you see. My job for the first couple of days is observing, analysing players' individual qualities and the qualities of the team and how to improve things.

What are your early impressions of the facilities at Cobham?

I don't think there is any team in the world with nicer facilities than this - in beautiful surroundings and luckily, since I arrived here, the weather has been fantastic. I hope this is a good omen.

Was it a tough decision to leave your last job and come here? Ajax is a big club and it must be special for someone Dutch to be in charge there?

Of course it was hard because I worked there with a group of very talented and very young players. The only problem with Ajax is you always lose your best players.

Two days before qualifying for the Champions League, I lost my two best players and the club ended up with a lot of money. It is kind of frustrating. The decision to leave was a big one but Chelsea and I met at the right moment. They needed someone and I wanted to move and everything came together and everybody is happy.

You must already know a lot about many of the Chelsea players having studied them hard every time we played Barcelona.

Not quite a lot but I watch international football of course and I know players, also before they were playing at Chelsea. It is nice to work with them and now you experience them close up, for some you have to think he is better than I thought and maybe another you think he is not as good as I thought. It is always the same if you work closely with people. You get to know the players technically and mentally as well as personally.

One player you definitely have good knowledge of is Juliano Belletti.

Of course. We were at Barcelona together for several years and Bell is a fantastic player and a good guy. He is a very modern right-back with a lot of offensive qualities - I think more than defensive - but then he is a Brazilian. It is something all Brazilians have. Going forward is their favourite business. This team needs a player like him to become a little more adventurous.

Will you have to adapt your coaching methods to fit with Barclays Premier League football?

I think so because every league is different. There is only one thing that is the same, the players. Players are the same in every league in every country. The thing to do is for Avram, me and Steve to look at their qualities and try to find a way for them to play where their qualities fit best. That is the most important thing for coaches to do. Look at what system will be best for their qualities to come out on top.

Most fans at any club would be excited about the idea of playing like Barcelona at their recent best. Do you think it possible to play the Barcelona way in the English league?

I think you can play a certain way of football that is very similar to Barcelona but you need the players for that - and Chelsea doesn't have Iniesta, doesn't have Deco, doesn't have Xavi which are players with a certain quality.

But Chelsea on the other hand has Essien and Makelele and Lampard - different players with different styles. But I think it is not the style of Barcelona players, it is the way they play that is attractive - and with Chelsea with all the players we have and all the quality we have, we can play attractive football that is fun to watch, with the intention of winning the game, not with the intention of not losing the game.

I think this change in attitude is huge. It is bigger than everyone imagines. You enter the field with it in the back of your mind that today we are not going to lose, or you enter and you say I am going to win today. And we have to work on that.

It will cost a lot of energy and effort working on the training ground, trying to convince the players there is also another way of playing football that is fun to do and which pleases the crowd. This has to go step-by-step. You cannot go for a miracle change, it is impossible. We are a big football club and we need results along the way and you have to do it step-by-step.

Have you been involved in a similar change at any previous club?

Yes, we did it with Barcelona and the first half-year was not really a success. But the people kept confidence in our work because they were seeing things improving and at the end of the season, we ended second. The next two years we won all the prizes to win in Spain and the Champions League which was a great result of course. But you need to be patient. You cannot do it in one year or one-and-a-half years. You have to work on this.


Good interview, for the first time in a long time (apart from Steve Clarke) I have read an entire interview given by a memebr of our management/coaching staff. He seems to take no prisoners, which I think is a key attribute to have. Doesn't strike me as a 'yes' man at all, will Roman like that? I guess if we're playing attractive football he won't mind. I don't think we'll hear any interviews from him other than from the official site, as Grant will do the press and failing that, Clarke will, but I hope to read more of the same in the future.

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Good interview and refreshing to see someone post something positive.

I like what he has to say and the way he mentions Avram and Clarke as if there is a real plan between the three of them to change things.

I would imagine he commands respect among players and backroom staff alike and could be a better appointment than we know.

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