- Raul, tell us about your philosophy of football. Having worked with JuanMa Lillo and Pep Guardiola, how do you see the game in the Middle East? Both managers are famed for their expertise in the art of Positional Play, or in your case “Juego de Posicion”. Have you seen any teams in the Middle East use that, and if not, how do you see it be implemented into the game?
There is NO such thing as positional play in the Middle East. If we look at it from this point of view, the Middle East keeps its traditional style of football which is running and direct play, one where there is such little control of the play and the game. This type of tradition known to Middle Eastern football is a big handicap towards the evolution of football in the area.
Raul Caneda looks on at a press conference, while manager of Al-Nassr based in Riyadh.
- How were you first approached to coach in the Middle East? Bearing in mind you had only coached in Spanish speaking countries before. What were your thoughts on such an offer, despite the language barrier and gulf in quality between Spain and Saudi Arabia?
It is not as hard as you think it is especially if you have a good and trusted translator like I have. To coach in football of course, is easier, because football after all has one language.
- Coaching two big clubs, one in Riyadh and one in Jeddah is no mean feat. Ittihad are known to have some of the best fans in the country, but how could you speak about Saudi Arabian fans in general?
The passion of the Saudi Arabian fans is definitely the most attractive thing, one that I have enjoyed very much in Saudi Arabia. It is a big gap between the rest of the countries in the Middle East, for sure. Both audiences, Al-Nassr and Al-Ittihad, are simply amazing.
- You were stuck in a hard situation towards the end of your time at Ittihad where the financial instability was a big problem, how did you get through this phase?
It is a pity that such a big club is constantly involved in this situation. They are having trouble with payments nowadays too, and it is because of that FIFA issue. I wish they can solve this problem as soon as possible and to recover its reputation as a big, serious club here and all over the world.
Raul Caneda during his time at Al-Ittihad of Saudi Arabia.
- Is there a difference between Al-Nassr and Al-Ittihad, with both based in two rival cities?
Both of these clubs, Al-Nassr and Al-Ittihad, are just amazing clubs with a great fan base and great history.
- What are your plans for the future, to stay and coach in the Middle East? Many papers have reported your plans to coach in the UAE. What do you think of that prospect?
You never know where the ball might take you. It could be in the Middle East, it is always an option and I look at that option with a big smile and lots of care. I got used to the Muslim culture from my arrival on the first day, and I would love to be back.
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