Fernando Fernández is happy to meet Fradi
As head coach of Diósgyőr VTK, he never had any luck against Ferencváros, but as Manuel Pellegrini's assistant, Fernando Fernández is now seeking victory on the bench of Real Betis.
|Fernando learns a lot from Pellegrini about the coaching profession (Photo: AFP)|
– Can I test you? What is the ranking of Diósgyőr in NB I?
– Nice try... – 42-year-old Fernando Fernández, who worked as DVTK's head coach from April 2018 to September 2019, laughed. – The team plays in division II, and I know that they are fighting to advance. I'm up to date with the team. I'm not just looking at the results, but I'm also browsing the lineups and the scorers. One thing is for sure: the current second-tier squad is much stronger than the former NB I team I coached.
– How are you feeling at Betis? You're at home after all...
– I know the club very well. I spent six seasons here as a player. Betis is a known club across Spain. It is a club with history, and we have fans everywhere.
– What is the work like with Pellegrini?
– He's a great professional, I learn something new every day. He expects a lot from me: I'm not just putting down cones and handing out training bibs, but I'm also involved in developing the tactics. He was my coach in Málaga back then, and when he called me a year and a half ago, the phone almost fell out of my hands. I don't have to introduce his career to anyone, it's enough to think only of his league titles with River Plate, or even with Manchester City or his time spent at Real Madrid.
– Speaking of Real Madrid... You joined Madrid at the age of 18, played football for Castilla first, then made your senior debut against Real Zaragoza. Why didn't you stay in the first lineup?
– Shall I list the names from the team at the time? I should have ousted footballers such as Hierro, Roberto Carlos at the back, or Makélélé, Guti, Figo, McManaman, and Zidane in midfield. How to put it... It wasn't an easy task. I scored 11 goals in 36 games for Castilla, but I was very young, and they thought it would be best to loan me to Valladolid. From there, I went to Betis, and the story is known from here on out.
– Is Málaga or Sevilla your real home?
– I was born in Málaga, I grew up there, and my family – parents, cousins – still lives there. I also have a house in Málaga, and it's another question that I feel content in Seville as well. However, Málaga is closer to my heart, I also met my wife there. Seville is a gorgeous city, the atmosphere is unique, and since we're successful with the team, I'm safe to say that I'm happy, and everything is on track around me.
– Are you looking forward to the Europa League game against FTC on Thursday?
– I was very pleased after the draw because I knew I could return to Hungary, and Ferencváros would also come to Seville. I really like the country, mainly Miskolc grew to my heart. Fradi is a big club, it has improved a lot in recent times, it has good players, the current lineup cannot be compared to the squad from six or eight years ago.
– What do you expect from the Hungarian champions in the match in Seville?
– Despite the weaker results, I don't think the Ferencváros players will give up the fight. Obviously, they want to get their first point(s) in the group, but we need the victory, too. We'd like to finish in one of the top two places, there's no question about that.
– Did you like playing against Ferencváros as a footballer?
– We lost my first game in the Groupama Aréna. If I recall correctly, we got defeated 2-1. But we earned points in Diósgyőr. Ricardo Moniz was FTC's head coach at that time. As a trainer, I always lost to Ferencváros, except for the last one in Budapest, which we won 3-1 with Betis.
– Where do you see yourself in the near future? Will you stay an assistant coach, or would you want to be a head coach again?
– I used to be a head coach everywhere, now I'm at Betis as an assistant for the first time. It doesn't bother me at all, because I really learn something new from Pellegrini every single day, it's a huge honor to work with him. I'm satisfied with my situation, Betis comes first for me now, but what the future holds is unpredictable. Of course, it is not excluded that if NB I calls me and I find the challenge appropriate, I will be happy to return to Hungary.
Translated by Vanda Orosz
NOVEMBER 25, THURSDAY
6.45PM: Bayer Leverkusen–Celtic
6.45PM: Real Betis–Ferencváros
|1. Bayer Leverkusen||4||3||1||– ||11–2||+9||10|
|2. Real Betis||4||2||1||1||8–9||–1||7|
|3. Celtic||4||2||– ||2||8–10||–2||6|