Foot Mercato: how have you been since the end of your adventure in Amiens at the end of September?
Following after this advertisement
Luka Elsner: It’s okay, I tried to quickly switch to other personal development projects that I hadn’t had time to do in recent years. I went back to German, which I had forgotten for ten years. I signed up for a forty-hour course. I worked on a football theme where I thought I had deficiencies and to improve myself, in particular with a few great coaches that I had on the phone to try to guide me. I watched a lot of team matches that I wanted to see. When we are 24 hours a day working in a club, this time is limited. It allowed me to open up to other elements. There is a part in connection with possible projects that may be successful. I’m busy.
FM: we were going to ask you how an unemployed coach used his time, but you have many projects …
THE : yes, I think it is essential. There are times in a career when I think you need to breathe, not to think too much about football. I imagine that after spending 3 or 4 years in a club, in a washing machine, you need to go out and rest for 5 or 6 months. There, it is not at all my case. As soon as I left the Amiens project, I would have had a lot of fun going back to a field, taking over a project. That’s why, very quickly, I started looking for those areas in which I wanted to get involved and invest time.
FM: you were talking about deficiencies, in what areas do you work?
THE : the areas in which I thought I could progress, it is the preparation of the big matches, that is to say with important issues like cup finals, key moments in the season, derbies, which includes the context of ‘a “great match”. In this area, I think I have the need and the need to progress.
FM: what kind of methods and exercises does it take?
THE : first, it is evoking this element with people who have often been confronted with it. It comes from coaches who are a little older and with experience behind them. It allows them to correctly formulate the various elements to be glimpsed. It also involves going to other areas that are not directly related to football. It can go towards the sportsman or the field of the company. This is more extensive research to find answers. Like in a lot of areas in sports, I think there are a lot of overlapping things in life. It is perhaps more a question of attitude than of tactics. This is what I wanted to research. What in the attitude and in the preparation lead to a good performance. Not necessarily a good result, but a good performance.
“Amiens, I didn’t look at all at the start”
FM: these are areas more related to the management of players and the mental aspect of things …
THE : exactly. What approach to have during the week? What not to do? What are the mistakes not to make? How to behave towards the players and the environment? How to uninhibit the meeting? There are plenty of questions to ask around this and answers to provide. It is a certainty that the performance was not always there in these games when I was at the head of a team. It could have been when we played an outsider role. We saw it with Lyon (2-2, then 0-0), Marseille (3-1, 2-2), with Monaco at home (1-2), even if the result was not there. And then high-stakes matches with Metz (2-1, 0-1) and Toulouse (0-2, 0-0) where I felt that the players, after 10 or 15 minutes, were not in confident and relaxed. This is something that I wanted to research.
FM: which clubs do you watch at the moment?
THE : I watch the German teams a lot: Mönchengladbach, Leipzig and Bayern. Teams that have a very strong dynamic and intensity. This is something that interested me. I took a look at Sassuolo because I found the mastery of the possession and zone play to be excellent. To keep abreast of everything that is happening, the French teams. It’s a championship that I like, because I’m here, to have a real opinion and to know in depth the elements of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2.
FM: do you watch Amiens?
THE : nor the other teams. I didn’t watch at all at first. I didn’t feel like it at all and now I look like all the other teams.
FM: what do you retain in all the teams that you have just mentioned?
THE : I try to take as much information as possible on the different phases of the game that we can be confronted with and it is true that today, there is a real modernity in the “German” approach and this efficiency of the game of transition. I recently read an interview with Paulo Fonseca, the coach of AS Roma, who said he was a huge fan of the position game, to have control of the ball, a strong level of possession and who had to s ‘adapt to Rome. He was working on his ability to meet the needs of the transition game because ultimately the Italian league game data and its characteristics demanded it. I found it interesting, or how a coach needs and has to adapt to the context in which he is. He explained that in Italy, when you lose the ball, if you don’t react correctly in the next 5, 6, 7 seconds and you don’t use the space, the teams in front work so well defensively. quickly becomes complicated, even with a good positional game, to create situations. This is where my various research started.
“Everything I watch is ultimately intended to enter into my training process”
FM: how do you manage to process all this information?
THE : it’s not at all just a look for fun. It is to try to recover elements which one could use. It is to bring out the factual elements of the game and develop it in the training process. Ultimately, that’s where our ability to influence the game lies. What are we going to repeat in training to influence the game? Everything I watch is ultimately intended to enter my training process. This is how I look at him.
FM: are you proactive in playing the game?
THE : it’s not necessarily very structured but when I see something, it can be very harmless but it will jump out at me and allow me to make a connection with something else. “Ah, that, I’ll be able to use it.” Sometimes, I retain sequences that will simply be examples to show, then sometimes it goes a little further. There is an exercise or a principle of training which will materialize and which will allow you to be more efficient. I try to research this: what makes an action effective? What are the principles that will make an action effective? A cross, a pass, a depth, a play between the lines… What are the elements to be transmitted to the players to make this action effective? It is from this angle that I try to see it.
“You tell yourself that you really want to get up at 7 am to go to work”
FM: to hear you, you seem to miss the field …
THE : Ah yes ! I think it’s like any passion. I am lucky to have made it my job. There is a form of obsession with this subject. As soon as there is a lack, that we are no longer in contact… I have a huge lack at this level. I would like to redo my job and be in contact with the players and the pitch as quickly as possible, to get back into the training process as quickly as possible. Now it is the obligations and the vagaries of the trade. It is also in this period that we realize it the most. It is this area that is the most important for us, that we did not ultimately miss our vocation. When you are outside of that and it causes a significant lack, you know that you are not too wrong in your trajectory. You tell yourself that you really want to get up at 7am to go to work.
FM: so let’s come in fact, have you had any contacts since your departure from Amiens?
THE : I had various discussions which did not result in the end, which are discussions on the medium term, in particular the possibilities at the end of the season but today not on the short term. Clubs can prepare for a deadline which may arise in the future. It’s like the clubs that prepare and research for several months on the different players they would have to transfer. Good clubs also work in this way on the search for coaches.
FM: are these contacts that you had in France?
THE : no, abroad.
FM: you watch many matches in France and abroad, you work on your German, but what is your priority?
THE : my preference today would necessarily be to stay in France. I decided to come back to it when the opportunity presented itself, even though the decision was easy to make. France and French-speaking countries are a preference. Now, I’m trying to open up to as many markets as possible. The situation and the financial context of the clubs and the football market in general encourage people to be open-minded and humble. I try to stay attentive and prepare for all eventualities even if in my mental diagram, I am not in a position to say to myself: “I only accept the best of the best”. You will have to accept to take a step back or accept another type of challenge to go up the slope. I’d be stupid to close the door. Everything has to be put on the table and discussed, and how I can fit into this project.