Juan Ignacio Martinez has reflected today on taking his first steps in La Liga with Levante and of the value of his veteran stars.
The Coach, who is preparing to face Real Madrid this evening, sat down with El Pais to reflect on his experience so far with Los Granotes.
JIM arrived at the club in 2011 with no previous record of coaching in the top flight, but lead the team to qualify for a first ever season in Europe.
“To be a Primera Coach without having achieved a promotion with that team is very hard. I took it as an opportunity,” Martinez reflected in his interview.
“And thanks to [sporting director] Manolo Salvador for giving it to me despite having no experience. I came with a philosophy of football based on possession of the ball and to modify the players to get the most out of the collective.”
The Coach’s philosophy, however, had to change during his first pre-season with the team.
“Levante has many reliable players - their commitment, solidarity and effort is maximised.
“They accepted everything we did in pre-season in Holland and in a friendly over there they did as I wanted, but in the pre-season game against Penarol the lost and Nano told me of the feeling of the dressing room, that this style was costing them and, by consensus, we decided to change the approach.
“Kone also arrived and allowed us to play like this.”
Martinez also reflected that Levante’s strength is the number of over 30s they list in their ranks.
“They are the treasure of the team. They welcomed me very quickly, they explained the origins of Levante and what they want to achieve.
“They transmit the values of the team and we all know what we have to do. The veterans are a mirror for honesty.
“Every day they remember how badly the club was a few years ago [close to bankruptcy], they do not want to forget that.
“Ballesteros is a leader without talking, Juanfran a leader on and off the field with his jokes, there is also Munua, Barkero…”