Villaviciosa, a name that means something like “the fertile home”, is a small place in the very North of Spain, in the autonomy of Asturias. The people have adapted to their surroundings; it might be fertile, but only hard work would allow one to reap the benefits of the land and sea. It has also been a disputed territory and suffered invasions by the French and it always got the attention from Spain’s dictators.
The Maliayos (from an earlier name of the place), as any Asturians are tough people, people that appreciate order and loyalty. It is maybe not a coincidence that it has fostered a 10-time marathon world champion and several rowing champions. The latter a sport where individual sacrifice and solidarity with the team is paramount to achieve success. Discipline.
In this environment, Marcelino Garcia Toral was brought into that world in August 1965. He looks more or less like he did back when he ended his career. The hair is the same, so is the weight. His stature is impeccable, he is angular and there is not a single gram of fat on his body. Surely a warning for anyone who is to submit under his rigorous training regime, where every 100 grams of extra weight above the ideal is punished with a 1500 euro fine.
Valencia in the last few years have been as far from the “Marcelinean ideal” as you could possibly come. Lack of discipline, players thinking more on themselves than the team and a club without structure to succeed. Therefore, he chose precisely these topics on his presentation; [We want to achieve] “Stability and good institutional performance”.
Marcelino promoted the same values that he acquired while at Sporting de Gijón. One of his most important mentors, José Manuel Novoa, showed him the way by building a team based on work ethic and effort. “Individuality will never weigh more than the collective and no footballer is essential if he is not part of the team”, he underlined, adding immediately the essential values that should govern the team: demand, humility, commitment, solidarity and ambition.
To better illustrate how Marcelino thinks, here are some statements from in an interview from 2011, starting with his experiences as a player and what they mean to him as a coach: “As a footballer you accumulate many experiences, some positive and some negative, that enables you to realize how the player reacts in both favorable and difficult situations, with poor results and even problems of non-payment by the club. There is also the experience that I have had with different coaches and of course you are remembering in what situations you enjoyed and in which you suffered. This helps you when you coach to give more importance to some things and less to others. I try above all that what I experienced as a very negative being a footballer did not transfer it to my players now that I am a coach.”
“From all the managers you had as a player, you keep memories, some not to repeat them and others that yes, that serve you because you think they are positive. It’s really about learning from everyone. I am always open to learning and training. I try to learn from everyone. I read interviews, opinion articles, I try to observe whenever I can the methodologies of work of those trainers that catch my attention and that I think I can bring new learning. I try to be open and to incorporate what I can into my work methodology.”
Delving deeper into the manager Marcelino, we can learn a lot from his answers related to how he build his teams; “Football is a collective sport. Therefore, I strongly indoctrinate the idea of collective work. Everyone should participate in both defensive and offensive work. You always have to help your partner because you also want the partner to help you. From here, depending on the players I have, I work training is about building a game idea. Through daily work, through certain exercises, I try to have the players automate the mechanisms that I want the team to develop in the games. We try that through the daily work the player interprets and is at ease with a certain collective idea.”
“Competitiveness is generated by the demand and intensity of the daily work, which leads you to compete every day. I have been lucky to always have very professional football players. I do not distinguish during the week between starters and substitutes. I work with everyone. We do it so that when, by our decision, a footballer goes out to play, he does it like any other in the squad, knowing that there may be some differences in terms of individual quality. I think that the footballer values it because he does not feel discriminated against at work. It encourages internal competition. During the week they do not know who will play and who will not.”
“Talent is important and it is the difference. But so far I have not had footballers who can win a match by themselves. I think that from a good collective performance increases the level of each individual or helps the player to approach their maximum individual capacity. I give importance to the team. I think we have to work together and with a common idea, so that from that work we make all the individual performances improve.”
Much has been said of his people management following the reported bust up with Musacchio at Villarreal, but he lives his root values;
“If at work there is a discrepancy, I speak very clearly to the player, I like to tell him what I think. I like that the footballer knows at every moment what I think of him. As I have nothing to hide for the footballer in any of the aspects, both personally and professionally, I can talk to him with total peace of mind. What is more difficult is that the player speaks with that tranquility with the coach.”
“I do not intend to be a leader. We try as a coaching team to capture some ideas of work and play, trying to be as coherent as possible in all of them. If our players believe in what they are told, then much better. That is the way. The coach must be aware that it depends on the players, their ability, their commitment, and also believe in what is proposed. If there is mutual trust, if there is such complicity between the ideas of the coaching staff and the commitment of the squad, we will find the right path for the results to be favorable.”
“I think the main thing is respect for the teammate, the team, the coach. From the beginning, we promote standards in which respect is very present. And there is always dialogue. (…) I always try to talk and make the player see what he is doing well or what I think is wrong. So far, I have not had cases in which there have been any footballers who have criticized my decisions or their colleagues, lacking respect. We have our basic ideas about coexistence and behavior. First, we communicate them or we show them to the captains. Then we discuss with them if we have to change something, if we have to make some changes. We are very interested that they feel that they are also their standards, not only those of the technical staff, which are also basic and necessary standards. Once agreed with the captains we advertise them in the dressing room and then they are obligatory rules for both the staff and the coaching staff.”
Marcelino, embodies what Valencia fans have wanted for a long time; a club that is honest in its work, united as a team, proud of its achievements and demanding of itself.