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First team


Our head coach praised the change in mindset over recent weeks but emphasised that there is still a long way to go
Cuerpo Superior

After successive league victories, Quique Sánchez Flores addressed squad morale at Friday's press conference: "The natural enthusiasm of our young players has energised the group. We have finally begun to feel the infectious nature of that enthusiasm in the last few weeks and have seen how it has transformed the atmosphere in the squad. That's has kept us pushing to improve. However, despite a feeling of optimism, we have to stay grounded and know what we have to do to improve and get the club back where it should be."

On the availability of Ocampos and Lamela, Quique was non-committal: "I'll find that out this afternoon and that will be when everything is confirmed. The boys are undergoing their final tests so we won't know until later. Alejo has put in an incredible week in training with the group and is ready. He is eager, hungry and full of desire and he's done exactly what we asked him to do during the week. I think he'll bring a lot to the team." Our head coach also spoke about his relationship with Valencia head coach Rubén Baraja: "I coached him for three years and I have very fond memories of him as a player - he was fantastic and helped us a lot. As a coach, we have already crossed paths and we have a lot of affection and respect for each other. When you go to a club where you have that responsibility to be at the top level, you need courage. He has that."

"In success or when everything is going well, what we ask for is hard work, attention to detail and humility. I always say it, but I like to build from those foundations. To progress and consolidate our recent work, we need to recognise that we are not currently where we want to be. We are improving but we have totla respect for this division, for the opposition and for the teams that are ahead of us in their development. We know that we are still in a very demanding situation. We are happier, but we have to do a lot of things right to get good results."

"We're playing better than we were, but we have total respect for our opponents"

When asked about Rafa Mir, Quique touched on what he needs to do to get more minutes: "I won't go into too much detail about this now, but he's an important member of the squad and we need everyone. Hopefully he can fight his way into the team and show the desire that I'm looking for. Right now I'm sure he's questioning things, but this will ultimately make him a better player in the long run. He has to overcome the situation, give me a selection headache and get back to the performance levels he has already shown here before."

Quique then addressed the form of striker Isaac Romero, who has set the league alight since stepping up to the first team in January: "I don't want to change anything and nothing is the result of anything I've said. Everything comes naturally to him, all we did was open the door and he has announced himself. We don't want to close it now. He is fine where he is, we have to tell him very little. For people like him, who are meant to fly, you just let them do their thing. We don't want to change anything about him. The key to Isaac is to let him be the way he is. He's his own person and has many great attributes - for football and for life. I've seen how he's able to switch off from all the hype, focus on his football and stay level. I don't have to explain anything. Because of the way he is, he understands. As for his contract renewal, it's up to him and the club. He's very happy, very relaxed, very dangerous to opponents and very good for us. As he progresses, more doors will open for him. He has already opened the most important one and there are others that are out of his control. [International] competition is tough and there are already top players there. Those are doors that he has to break down by himself."

Returning to the psychological element of the game, our head coach acknowledged that there is still a long way to go to get to where we want to be. “I know that we have not fully turned things around yet. I am happy that the atmosphere has improved and that the fans and the team are more united. Getting this relationship back was vital because we all need to push in the same direction. We can’t do this without the fans and we are not there yet. I'm glad we're looking up but aware of the difficulties ahead. We are going into every game thinking that we can be competitive and united, playing as a team, and we are capable of getting results. In football, you can sometimes find yourself trapped in situations that can make you unhappy, feel pressured, and unmotivated.” 

On this, he stressed his desire to "let people be as happy and positive as they want, and we'll try our best to make it happen, but always keeping our feet on the ground. I believe being grounded is vital, especially in the good times. We must be honest, and there is still a long way to go before we start to look at the table.” Additionally, he welcomed Nianzou's return to the group but was more cautious regarding Mariano: "He's in more pain than Tanguy, and he's going to need a little more time."

"If we all push in the same direction, we are capable of getting results"

On Hannibal Mejbri and Kike Salas he said that “I don’t like to talk about individuals. With Isaac it's difficult not to but I don’t usually like to focus on individual players. Hannibal is giving everything in training and working to understand the demands of the team and adapt. Like Isaac, Kike is a young players who gives his all. Every time he plays he gives us a breath of fresh air. He is very good for us.” 

On his motivation on a personal return to Mestalla he said that “We always take it a game at a time. When you lose, the next game seems like a huge mountain. When you win, you want to play the next one right away. Ultimately, it's about gaining the most confidence to approach the next game in the best condition. We are only thinking about Valencia and nothing else, to play as well as we can. Let's see how the game goes and whether we can get the result we want. Above all we want to keep performing in every game. Valencia will make it very difficult for us.”

To round off, our head coach spoke about the possible absence of Lucas Ocampos and his potential replacements: "Whether you're a winger, a full-back, or a wide midfielder, whether you're Ocampos, Acuña, Pedrosa, or Januzaj, you have to deliver crosses, make diagonal runs, and link up with teammates. The players might change but not the job that they have to do.”