Day upon arrival to Belek, Partizan boss Savo Milosevic had a lengthy chat with journalists accompanying team`s winter preps.
Mr. Milosevic, your first impressions on resort, training pitches and working conditions in general?
-I`m delighted but I think it`s a bit too much luxury-wise as we are here to work. It`s crucial we have peace and quiet and good working conditions, number of hotel stars is less important. We did gym stamina training this morning, in the afternoon we`ll work on technique, we really have phenomenal conditions here.
Dominik Dinga missed to show up from the original list of 31 players. What the reason of his absence?
-I don`t have full info at the moment, I`d like to know more too.
Do you regret not having Dinga here?
-Every player matters regardless of how he feels and what his situation is and I wouldn`t like to harm Dinga by saying something wrong.
Any news regarding signing of Slobodan Rajkovic?
-I expect some info quite soon, not only regarding Rajkovic but news on other players too. We also know who we are going to play here, Cracovia and Ruzomberok as well as a friendly on January 22 for younger lads against one lower-tier German team.
Are you satisfied with opponents you were able to pick here?
-I am but my answer would be the same regardless of the opponents picked. I don`t find friendly games of great importance and I never insist on a good result, it`s other stuff that matters to us.
Do you already have an idea who will you field against Cracovia and who will play other friendly on January 22?
-We are not going to define starting 11 over the first two friendlies although lot of it is clear after last summer`s preps and first half of the season. The essence is on the preps plan we have. On January 22, players will be tired after lots of work and no one will be able to play full game. Therefore, we are to split minutes around. We are not going to change set rules regarding preps period.
There are rumours of lucrative offers for Sadiq. Are you scared that might have a bad impact on him?
-That`s merry hell for us. We work with Sadiq and I don`t believe any problems may occur. I told him he is about to pick his game up, that he has a great progress ability. He arrived to Partizan in time, with desire and enthusiasm present. Talking with Sadiq now, I see that he`s got even greater desire compared to last summer`s preps. I don`t think transfer offers will have a negative impact on Sadiq. We had Strahinja Pavlovic transfer saga that lasted five months and it ended successfully. All players around the world need to learn to play under all sorts of pressure and this kind of pressure is just one of many. It`s not easy but we try to handle these things in a right manner.
You said there will be no transfers of Partizan foreign players unless suitable offers come in. Offer for Sadiq is close to suitable. What will happen is one such offer comes in this winter?
-I already spoke about the transfer fee we are asking regarding Sadiq. It does look crazy that me and my coaching staff don`t want to lose one Partizan players for 10 million euros. We are in a situation now you couldn`t imagine seeing us few months ago but it`s different now. No one is for sale and everyone is for sale. Me and my staff will always advocate to have as strong roster as possible but we cannot wipe out club`s interests need for survival. We`ll have to make evaluation if we find ourselves in a different situation and have lucrative offers for other players too. If someone departs, I hope we`ll react in time, and, if we have funds, we are expected to pay potential newcomers more. I don`t want emphasis to be on transfer politics during winter preps and I don`t want to play main role. These are mostly questions for club management. At the end of the day, they are in Belgrade and negotiating about these things. I`m extremely pleased that I have no pressure from management in that department. I refused three offers for Sadiq, ranging from 7,5 to 10 mil euros. No one from the club phoned me to say “Hey man, these are serious offers”.
Since your arrival, Partizan raised the bar. In the past, it would be unthinkable to see 10 million euros offer turned down.
-I said last summer that my main target, the only thing that matters, is to get Partizan close to European standards. It`s not about my personal vanity or desire, this is just the result of it all. Each offer came out as a result of our European performances, with all due respect to domestic championship.
You said some things are on club management regarding transfers. Is it true General Director told you not to look out for right-back?
-We are not looking for right-back as Nemanja Miletic is almost certainly not departing. Moreover, we have two more solutions down the right flank, so there`s no need for three players on the same playing position.
Perugia boss had an interesting opinion regarding Slobodan Rajkovic. He said he doesn`t need players who are reluctant or unsure about what they are going to do. Regarding Partizan offers, are there any players weighting up the options?
-If you are talking about Slobodan Rajkovic or my decisions regarding such matters, I`ll remind you that I waited for Asano two months last summer, two-and-a-half for Natkho, three months for Lazar Markovic. You cannot be narrow-minded when it comes to such things. Every player has the right to make decisions on his destiny. We are not a club with millions of euros to waste nor we live in a country with an ideal football ambience. We have to comply with certain things and we need to be patient. That`s what I said regarding Rajkovic based on the two months he spent training with us. His playing and human qualities are everything we are looking for in Partizan and if we can close this deal, let`s do it. I said the same to the club management. I`m sure his arrival to the club would give us quality on and off the pitch.
How fit is Lazar Markovic?
-Since his arrival, his desire was never doubtful. I actually believe he picked up an injury as a result of it – his desire was bigger than his current abilities. Markovic will be under special regime during winter preps, especially during first part as we don`t want any more negative surprises. He will undergo thorough medicals during preps and our medical team will do anything necessary to protect him. Markovic could have played couple of games before the break but we decided to protect him there and then as he was gradually recovering and now we can do the finishing touches and get him ready hundred percent for the season`s restart in February.
Compared to last summer, now you have full squad available to work with.
-This is heaven for us compared to last summer. Back then, we changed plans constantly, now we have a safe plan and detailed preps programme. It`s a completely different story now.
How does winter preps differ to summer ones?
-Intensity will be 20% higher now. Players adapted to different preps approach regarding physical department. As for the tactical bits, there will be changes as we were not able to do certain things previously due to a lack of training session. Every second of ball workout after today`s one will be of full intensity.
Last summer you spoke about your desire to have your team add pace and different level as such. What is it you want to achieve with the team this time around?
-Back then, I talked about various speeds. In this case, by signing players with certain characteristics, we speeded our game up but there are number of parameters we can speed up too – reaction, decision-making and other things we need to fix. To achieve all that, we need to bring our strength to optimum. Our idea is to lower the 11km range as it`s not good. We`ll train in accordance to it – get our run intensity higher, sprints as well but getting the volume of runs down. If we want to achieve such game we need to train in accordance.
How hard is trying to achieve those aims compared to the days when you were a player?
-I played in the last century. Our physio Marko Stojanovic showed us a 1951 formula race. They needed 67 seconds to change the tyres back then, now they do it in two or three seconds. Same things goes for football players and football game overall.