Ricardo Chéu: I just want the best for this club
We talked with Portuguese coach of FK Senica about his time period spent in our club.
The first ten league games in Fortuna league are over. How do you rate our league and the overall time spent in this country?
- When I came here, I didn´t think this league can be so competitive. But after a while I changed my mind. There are a lot of quality players and teams in this league, the league is very high by the organizational side. The conditions are very good for the league to progress. Compared to last season, the league is better, which is only good for the country. It will attract other good players to Slovakia. As for Slovakia, I feel very good here. People who work here have a similar culture to people in Portugal. They are hardworking and honest, which I highly appreciate. The only negative for me is the weather, my taste is very cold. But this is not a problem, one can live with it.
We were able to win the last four league games, which we leave the last two places in table finally. What do you think about that?
- It is true that we have managed to jump from the last two places in the table, so we have worked hard. Before the start of the spring season, we believed that we were able to improve the performance of this team because we have quality players. At the preseason camp in Turkey we worked hard, intense and with aggressiveness. The team also improved tactically. Our current position in the table is the result of the whole team´s work. I always believe in hard work. We will do our best to win the remaining four league games.
After the last victory over Trenčín, you said that you are not happy after four winnings in a row, but you will, if we succeed in winning the remaining four games. Can you explain it further?
- Whenever a match ends, I think in that direction, regardless of whether we win, lose or draw. I always think about the next game. We cannot change the past after the match, but we can change the future. During the week, I try to get the players to their best condition to be ready for the match. It´s part of tactics and motivation. Players have everything in their hands. Of course, the four wins are a pleasure for me, but we made a rough line for the last game. We have to think about the next one we will try to win. I want us to meet the goal of this season and then enjoy some free time. Football is always about pressure, but it´s positive pressure. Football is our job, we get money for it.
In preseason camp in Turkey, our strong point was defense, but we had some problems with scoring goals. In recent matches, it looks like we´ve also solved this problem.
- During the preseason in Turkey, we knew that the team had some troubles. Especially as far as the defensive is concerned, we have previously conceded too many goals. We started building a team on defensive tactics. It is true that we did not scored too many goals at the beginning of the spring season, but on the other hand we played against big teams. It was difficult for us. But in the matches we were able to create several opportunities. We start to scoring goals in the last matches, but we are conceding less. We hope to keep this moment. We work hard on these details during the training sessions.
In the league cup we ended just before the final gates. Do you perceive it as a failure?
- It was hard to finish in the just before the final. Semifinal matches were very balanced, I don´t think Trnava was better in double match. But the first match and second minute decided. That´s football, it´s part of it. Of course, we wanted to advance to the finals, but it failed. But we do not feel bad about it, we succeeded in a league that is a priority for us.
Under your leadership, this team has made significant progress. What was most needed for this? Can this team improve even more?
- It is definitely good to feel that it has improved. We managed to get the team to the next level. I believe that the results of the team are reflected in the competition, which starts with us during the week. If our players are fully focused on performing their tasks, we improve not only as a team but also as individuals. This is most important. Only in this way can players move forward and move on in football. I feel that we have very competitive players in the club who want more.
Football is a global phenomenon. In our dressing room we can find many nationalities or different cultures. Have you ever coached such a team in the past?
- It´s my second coaching step outside Portugal and the second coaching experience with players of different nationalities. It was very similar when I was in Italy. FC Rieti was mainly made up of foreigners, many times the language was a problem. It´s not a problem for me as a coach, I can speak several languages. The most important thing is the message of all football, which is universal for all players. I see it as a positive coaching company.
Slovakia as a country is your third coaching stop. Can you compare our country from a football perspective to Portugal or Italy?
- I have to say that it´s completely different. Of course, everything was easier for me in my country - especially off-football. My language is part of my culture. As for football in Portugal, Italy or Slovakia, I have to say that football is universal. Of course, if you pay more in Italy, you can choose players of different quality. Italy was completely different compared to the first and second leagues in Portugal. There is also a difference in the quality, pace of the matches or the technical aspect of the footballers, which can often decide matches. I wouldn´t like to sort these three leagues in a certain order, because reality is always different.
Before FK Senica, you led the Italian team FC Rieti playing in Serie C. Is it possible to qualitatively compare Seria C with the Fortuna League?
- In Italy, I was in Seria C, but it´s a professional league. While in Rieti, we played against teams that had a long history in Italian football - such as Catania and Reggina. In Italy, people live football, they literally breathe it. Stadiums are full, and teams in this country have a strong financial background. Football is the number one sport in Italy. If I compare Seria C and Fortuna League, they have one thing in common - competition. There would be a few teams in Serie C that would play for the top places in Fortuna League.
How do you perceive Senica and people respectively football fans, who is living here?
- I think that people in Senica are currently more connected with the club than it was at the beginning of the spring season. When I came here, I felt we didn´t have many fans. It is getting better from match to match. It´s just and just for us and the club. We represent the city, one symbol and the country. The club is more important than all players and coaches who work in it. Players and coaches come and go, but the club remains. We respect this city very much, we just want the best for the club.
People who know you know that you spend most of your time working. But how do you spend your free time if you don´t work?
- I´m out of my country, I don´t have my family here. My life is football. I prepare trainings, analyze the opponent´s game and so on. In fact, I don´t have much free time. If there is some free time, I´ll spend it watching football. Basically, I don´t have free days, I keep working with football. I devote my efforts and effort to one hundred percent of Senica.
In recent years, many Portuguese coaches, such as Nuno Espirito Santo, Leonardo Jardim, Marco Silva, Fernando Santos and, last but not least, José Mourinho, have proven their worth and quality in football. Do you have a coach, who is a model for you?
- I try to find the best on all coaches. From each of them I take the good, but also the bad to avoid repeating the same mistakes. If I were to choose some names, for example, Paulo Fonseca (FC Shakhtar Donetsk) or Nuno Espirito Santo, who currently has an amazing football idea in Wolverhampton. Marco Silva (Everton) is older, but he was once my player. He have a good personality and also has a good relationship with the players. Mourinho is one of the symbols of Portugal for change. I try to take something from everyone so that I can progress as a trainer every day.
Do you know any player you have led as a coach and still admire him?
- The players who give everything on the training I like most. They are players who have an exemplary approach, respect the coach even when they are not playing. When characterizing a player as an individual, it is most important. Accept the period when not playing. Such players know why they are not playing and what they need to improve. But it´s hardest because every player comes to the club to play as many minutes as possible. I trained a lot of footballers I am proud of. I could name a few who are currently in Portugal national team. I tried to improve these players, on the other hand, I could say that they also influenced the way I coach and where my coaching route was heading.
Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi? Why?
- It´s a very difficult question. I can say that on the one hand there is talent, on the other hand hard work. Ronaldo is a worker, he is like a machine. Messi has talent again. If I had to compare them, I think it´s 50 to 50. But as a coach, I have a philosophy of work, so I appreciate Ronald more. Since the beginning of his professional career he has always been among the TOP3 players in the world. Even though it has been growing for years, it has left no traces of its performance. Always trying to be better and better. So if I choose, Cristiano Ronaldo. But not because I´m from Portugal too.
You and your family live in Porto, is it your dream to lead FC Porto as a manager one day? Or some other club in Portugal?
- I live in Porto, but I wasn´t born here. I come from the small town of Vila Nova de Foz Coa, which I am proud of. So I came from a small town where football didn´t have a great future. I was very struggling to become a coach one day. I moved to Porto where I studied, lived and later married. Of course, all coaches want to work in the biggest clubs and in the best football countries. I dream about it as well. But I´m a professional, ready for everything. Now is my club Senica, for which I fight. I just want the best for her, I sacrifice everything. I´m trying to win as many matches as possible and get this project to the next level.