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Q & A with Juande Ramos about Real Madrid

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Juande Ramos speaks with Managing Madrid

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Juande Ramos came to Real Madrid riding a tempestous stint in Tottenham where he inherited a relegation-bound Premier League team. The Hotspurs were in turmoil, but Juande's philosophy lifted the team to a mid-table finish, and in 2007, Juande led Tottenham to their first trophy since 1999, defeating Chelsea in the cup final.

Unfortunately, Tottenham spiraled the following season, and Juande - along with his entire coaching staff - was sacked by October.

Ultimately, it was timely for Real Madrid to bring the former Sevilla ace in, as they needed a manager to replace Bernd Schuster - the man who publicly submitted himself to a 'superior Barca' - by Winter break.

In hindsight, it was the toughest moment for any manager to come in to the club. Real Madrid was half-way through a torturous tradition of axing managers prematurely - a tradition that started at the turn of the century and has already seen 12 managerial changes.

It was a season where Real Madrid was in a dark age - one that was stripped of talent. Robinho was sold in the off-season, virtually eliminating any flair the team had. Arjen Robben technically was supposed to be the star of the team, but was injured more than he was on the pitch, rendering the team toothless in attack in big games. For chunks of the season, Real Madrid were riding a central midfield duo of Fernando Gago and Lassana Diarra - a combo that disastrously blew up in their face in a 4-0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield to knock them out of the Champions League.

To add to the misery, Real Madrid were going up against Guardiola's machine which was about to enter its prime.

When I asked Juande about what it was like to be thrown into this situation, he admitted it wasn't easy.

"The reality is that Barça of the 6 titles, Barça 2009, was infinitely superior to Real Madrid. We had to make a tremendous effort to compete with them as I said before, but the truth is that their level was much higher than Real Madrid"

Full Q & A is below.

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Kiyan: Juande, there is a certain stigma attached to Real Madrid these days - that perhaps coaching Real Madrid is not all that it's made out to be, that eventually every coach in the modern era will fail at the club. Is there truth to is? With all the pressure from the fans, media, and perhaps most importantly - the lack of control a manager has underneath the President who maybe interferes too much with the players coming in and out - how difficult is it to coach Real Madrid?

Juande: No, I don´t think so. For any coach it's a pleasure to train Real Madrid. The great problem with Real Madrid is that they have all the media constantly over them, and any minimum problem that arises gets magnified and becomes a hard ball to stop. The continuous and constant struggle with the media turns to be very difficult.

Kiyan: Can you speak about your time at Real Madrid in 2009? What would you have done differently if you could rewind and have a second chance?

Juande: I wouldn't change anything. I am very satisfied with my time at Real Madrid, in fact we took a team that was in fifth place, in a very bad sporting situation, and we were able to get 18 consecutive victories and 1 draw, and fight for the league against Guardiola's great six-title winning Barca. Until the Bernabeu match (2-6 Clasico loss) we cut into a huge points difference.

Kiyan: Your stint with Real Madrid was brief, but what were the highlights for you? Was there anything you absolutely loved about the job that you can describe for us?

Juande: The most important thing for me was the competitiveness of the team. The team was 12 points down in the standings from Barcelona, and we were able to trim it to 8 points. We got to 4 points before the Clasico, and the team made a tremendous effort to prove that Real Madrid never gives up.

Kiyan: What went wrong at Anfield in the Champions League?

Juande: Especially in the first match, losing 0-1 at Bernabeu was what dogged the team. We had to go to Anfield risking too much and Liverpool took advantage of that to get a strong result. I think in the aggregate the 0-1 of the first leg really hurt us and also Liverpool had a great team with Xabi Alonso, Torres, Gerrard at their best.

Kiyan: What was was it like coaching Raul?

Juande: There is not much more to say about Raul. I think he has been a player of reference for absolutely everyone, young and old, because he is a very competitive footballer. To stay in the elite for so many years is a thing that only the privileged can do.

Kiyan: What was your biggest challenge coaching Real Madrid?

Juande: The biggest challenge was mainly to convince players that we could compete, that we could fight for the Liga against Barça. The players and the team made a tremendous effort to fight for it, and the truth is that for many days we were squeezing and we were able to force Barcelona to do their best to get the league.

Kiyan: When you look at Real Madrid this year, what is their biggest weakness? What do they need to improve on?

Juande: The truth is that this season Real Madrid is getting better results than what its game reflects. They were at the top of the standings winning matches with many difficulties, but in recent matches against PSG and Sevilla they have suffered a lot, even too much.

With respect to the strengths and weaknesses of the team, I think it is the coach himself who has to comment. I do not think I am in a position to comment on what happens at Real Madrid.

Kiyan: What's next for Juande Ramos? Will you take a break from coaching? And when you do eventually return, where would you like to coach?

Juande: Well, after the experience in Ukraine, where I have been four years, I needed a break. I took one sabbatical year. About where to coach, the truth is that I do not care where, what I do want is to choose a good project and a good place in which to develop all the work to my style. Of course, United States is a country that I love and that has a very interesting future development.

Kiyan: Where would you like to end your career?

Juande: As I said earlier, the United States has always attracted me and would be a place where I would like to coach someday, and why not finish my career there. Many football stars end there their career, and honestly it would be a very nice situation to experience.

Kiyan: What is the legacy you'd like to leave behind? What would you like to be remembered by?

Juande: Especially the satisfaction of the clubs that I have trained, the great memories I have left and they have left on me, I think that's reciprocal. I would like to be remembered because my teams have always been very competitive and have achieved great results.

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