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Hinchas y Jugadores - An exclusive interview with Gerard Nus (11th May, 2017)

When did you make the decision to pursue football coaching and what motivated you to do so?

Well, I’ve been interested in it since always. I was a football player when I was a kid, and my football coaches used to be my target. It’s why I’ve been working in football for so many years and  I hope to do so for many more years to come.

What was your background before Liverpool came calling?

I used to be in my local town, which is Reus - they’re now in the second division. I was also at Gimnàstic de Tarragona, before which I worked for UE Rapitenca. I used to be involved in organisation and football coaching while at the same time obtaining my coaching license (while at Rapitenca) and studying sports science at the Universitat de Lleida for four years.

What were the first thoughts in your mind when Liverpool offered you a position and was Rafael Benítez connected to the deal?

I was the first Spanish coach there but was never appointed by Rafael Benítez - I was appointed as a coach at the Liverpool football academy by the people who worked there. So I wasn’t brought to England by Rafa - but after a year Rafa offered me a job to work with the first team in Melwood - the training facilities for the first team.

How different is the coaching style in England - especially Liverpool - compared to Spain?

There’s many differences - we’ll need hours to talk about it! Between clubs, whether they are in the same country or not, there are always differences in coaching styles. Depending on league level, the team’s ambition, the coach, and many other things, the coaching style changes quite noticeably.

You've worked as an assistant for Chunnam Dragons, Head of Academy Coaching at Brighton & Hove Albion and assistant coach at Melbourne Heart - what motivated you to take up roles in foreign, uncharted territories, and do you see Spanish players and managers moving to South Korea and Australia in the future?

In one word - determination. I didn’t really look for international opportunities - I hadn’t put those countries on my GPS! But they came up, and when you have to make a professional decision, you choose the best option. For me it has never been an issue to leave my comfort zone because I believe that’s part of the job description - if you really want to have higher chances of success and better your coaching style and opportunities in the future.

I think so - nowadays, Spanish coaches are making their impact worldwide. The success of Real Madrid, Barcelona and the Spanish national team with two Euros and one World Cup has helped make footballing opportunities for Spanish coaches brighter. But it’s really a case of Spanish coaches taking opportunities more - there have been and there are so many talented players and coaches whose development has happened in Spain.

You worked as the head coach of Rayo OKC - how nervous were you to take up the main managerial position for the first time, and how did the experience shape your footballing philosophy?

I was not nervous - I was excited! It was exactly what I wanted to do, and many years of preparation had finally paid off. You still have to analyse teams, try to recognize what you can bring to the squad, what you can realistically change - but I was really happy to have received the offer. It’s very sad that the team doesn’t exists anymore, but those circumstances were out of my control. There were issues on another level. But on the sporting side the team did really well, we qualified for the semifinals of the NASL league. It was a big achievement - in the last 10 games we went unbeaten. In fact, we won our last five games straight! So there were many positives to take from that season.

What was working under Avram Grant at the Ghana national football team like?

I worked with the national team since December 2014, when I went to the African Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea. We lost on penalties in the final. Then I was under Avram Grant as an assistant coach, and under him we reached the semifinals in this year’s AFCON.

I try to learn as much as I can from all the coaches I’ve worked under - from Rafa, from Gus Poyet, and all the other coaches I’ve been honoured to work with, and I am happy to have had those opportunities and experiences. With Avram, the way he managed problems - he doesn’t make a mountain of a problem but tries rather to find a solution. He is a very psychological kind of person. He tries to talk a lot with his players and have deep conversations. Obviously, he has an amazing amount of experience - he’s worked for top clubs such as Chelsea.

It was very heroic of you to have staged a sit-in in Accra until the Ghana FA paid all the staff - were Rayo supportive of the situation? Did you ever feel that people were pressuring you to leave?

Thank you! Rayo supported me, but they were not happy about the situation because I wasn’t happy either! We wanted to resolve the situation as quickly as possible, but unfortunately the situation was out of my control.

Well, I can’t say much, but to put it simply they were more comfortable if I had left, if I had given up.

Rayo Vallecano are currently quite close to the relegation place. While results have improved lately, what is the atmosphere at the club at the moment and how confident are you of avoiding the drop?

I think the team has been improving in recent weeks. We are winning more games and there is more positivity on avoiding relegation. Of course, I cannot talk too much about it because of my involvement in the United States and Ghana - I can only talk about what is here right now, and that is a positive environment and I’m sure the team will survive in this league. And hopefully next season we can compete for promotion to La Liga.

What are your plans for the future?

Well, I do have a contract for another year with the club but it’s up to the people in charge. My position is clear in terms of termination and my desire for a coaching role. First and foremost I am open to help the club but secondarily I’m listening to offers for a head coach role because that is something I’m look forward to be involved in one day, as I have already done with Rayo OKC.



This interview was also published on BarcaBlaugranes.com. You can read it here.

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