Francis Rodriguez (Almería, 1978) opens in the franjirrojo bench today with one double session. just a few hours before receive AS in the Sports City for chat about the project, the signings, the goals… his Lightning. Furthermore, he discovers his most human part, in which the neighborhood and perseverance are of special importance. The one that he already showed as a footballer and now hoists in his fourth project in the elite the one of the Stripewith whom he was destined to meet…
—How were these first days in Madrid?
-Good. We come to a new place and we have to adapt, so we have arrived a few days before to see the facilities and so on. The reception is being very good and everyone’s commitment is fantastic. I’m dealing with the people who work at the Ciudad Deportiva, with Cobeño… I haven’t had time to go to more places. I hope that later I can meet, above all, the street fan, who is the one who matters.
—He insisted on two words in his presentation: illusion and challenge.
—Illusion cannot be missing in any of the stages of life. From there there is a very important challenge that is to match the classification of 21-22 (12th) and 22-23 (11th). It is complicated, but we will try to face it with humility so that the fans feel proud of our work.
—It has arrived now, but years before there were already conversations.
-Yeah. Coaches and teams depend a lot on the times. We had had a meeting three years ago with Cobeño. The president on occasion also called me, but the times did not match. It could not be realized. The moment has come. We are super happy with this opportunity.
—Were your paths and that of Rayo doomed to cross?
Yes, I have believed so for a long time. I identify with this way of working, because of where I grew up, because of the way of life of the Rayo fans… I’m a fighter and I’m not going to stop until this team has a good year.
“Why did you choose Rayo?”
—He comes from having some very good seasons with Iraola and he has grown a lot. Most of his players came from the Second Division and are now top. They adapt well to the philosophy we want. An aggressive, vertical team that plays in the opposite field, brave… All of this is us and Rayo has all of this. There is a perfect symbiosis to grow together.
—Take the baton from Iraola, who has set the bar very high, is he a stimulus, a brown, is he afraid of comparisons…?
—The other day a journalist told me that he was the only Andalusian coach in First Division. There is no way this is brown for me. I’m going to enjoy it to the fullest. I respect and value all of the above. I’m not going to compare myself to anyone, but I am ambitious.
—Which Rayista coach of recent years do you most identify with in terms of style of play?
—With the final stage of Míchel and that of Iraola. It’s the game, it’s what I did with Almería, Lugo, Huesca… Maybe that’s why I’m also here. The president and the sports director will have taken many turns to choose Andoni’s replacement.
“What will your Ray be like and what scheme will it use?”
“The identity will be very clear. This team is prepared to play with a 4-2-3-1 and there will be variations on that.
—Who make up your coaching staff?
I’ve been working with them for a decade. My second and the one who knows me the most is Jaime Ramos, our assistant is José Ortega, the physical trainer is Sergio Pardo and the analyst, Gorgo López. We go everywhere together. In fact, these fifteen days we are all on the same floor. We are Family.
—More in the case of Ortega!
—He played in Almería with me. Then he became a coach and I incorporated him into my coaching staff. He is my brother-in-law and my daughter’s uncle.
—What is your personal and collective goal?
—Improve my classification in Primera (13th with Elche in 21-22, tied on points with Rayo de Iraola). And collectively, that the team has grown, is well classified and that the fans end up satisfied.
—The priority is that there are no more exits?
—Yes, the club has the idea that no one else leaves. I count on everyone. Important players like Catena, Lejeune, Fran García, Comesaña have left… who must be replaced. The most important thing is to reinforce the defensive line and that is where we are focused. We want to bet big. Rayo is in favor of making an investment and bringing in top-level footballers, like Aridane.
“Tell me about him.”
—We all turned to Aridane to come. He is an experienced player and has just had a fantastic second round in Osasuna. He will contribute a lot.
—Vallecas hopes that Lejeune will return.
-We’ll see. I would love to. He knows it firsthand because he wanted to take it to Elche last year and Rayo took it from me. And now that I’m coming here, he returns to Alavés (laughs). Hopefully he can come back, but it’s out of our hands. You have to give it time.
—It is also on the agenda the Pacha Espino.
—He is free and many teams of our level want him. It is an interesting option, as there are others too, although more hidden. Let’s see if we can have it.
—And is there a real possibility of signing Isco?
“No, at the moment, none. We have that position well covered with Trejo, Nteka, Isi, Álvaro… They give us a lot of performance.
—And of Fruits?
“He’s a desirable player. I love him, but he belongs to Levante and now it’s impossible.
—It is linking Falcao to Millionairesbut do you have him?
-Yes of course. She has a contract and will be with us in preseason. Logically Falcao will decide what he will do with his future. Neither Francisco nor Rayo because we are talking about a player top world.
—Bebé, Nteka, Martín Pascual, More, Montiel are returning from loan… What is your plan with them?
“They have done well.” They come prepared to have a good preseason and earn a place in First Division.
—What remains of that boy from the El Zapillo neighborhood?
—The baths that I used before coming to Madrid (laughs). I have been working abroad for many years and I still have lifelong friends. The neighborhood is everything. There are the roots, the feeling…
-How is your neighborhood?
—As fishermen, workers, in which we all know each other and try to help each other… This is how many of my generation have grown up.
—Sounds similar to Vallecas…
—I don’t know the neighborhood very well, but I have come to the stadium quite a bit. The way to cheer, regardless of the result, is very difficult to find in other fields in Spain. Now I want to feel it as a Rayo coach. It is a different experience from the moment you go up Avenida de la Albufera. Here you live. Here it feels As soon as I can, I’ll mix with people, which I like. I want to play in Vallecas, well, even train there.
—Are you worried about having enough pieces to go to Almería?
—Of course, the club knows it and is doing everything possible to sign what we need as soon as possible. It is important because it can take its toll. I know it’s difficult, that it will take a week to bring another player. Let’s try it in every way. I don’t like that the market closes when the League has started. It is not logical that this is allowed. The medium or small teams are the most affected, but this is set up like this and we have to accept it.
Footballer or coach? Coach
Childhood idol? butragueño
Favorite movie? The Godfather
Song you listen to the most? ‘Live the moment’
A place to return to? Formentera
Dream to fulfill? Listen to the Champions League anthem
The best of Almeria? Their people
He likes to read? Yeah
What book would you recommend? ‘The Italian’ by Pérez Reverte
Do you already know something about Madrid? Very little, from when I have come to work or to watch football. Everyone speaks well. It is the perfect city to grow
What does the neighborhood mean to Francisco? It’s everything. There are the roots, the friends, the emotions, the feeling. you have to live it
What phrase is the one you repeat the most to your footballers? Winning mentality.