Life as a La Liga manager: LLL speaks to Getafe's Luis García

Luis García is a football manager who seems to love his job. Win, lose or draw, the cheerful 39-year-old always seems to have a smile on his face, and as well the young coach might as the Getafe boss has had a tremendously successful four-year spell.

It began by leading Levante out of the second division after near bankruptcy, followed by an incredible battle for survival in la Primera last season before a move to Getafe, where he lead his new team to a solid 11th place finish. 

La Liga Loca caught up with one of the hottest managerial properties in la Liga to assess the season just gone for his club, the general state of the game in Spain, and his country’s chances in the European Championships.

García without a smile on his face, just to disprove Tim's theory...

So how are you feeling now the season is over?Mentally, the season demands a lot of you. You’re managing the pressure and are very focussed, so I’m finishing the year quite tired and ready for the holidays, but after just a week away from football I know I’ll be desperate to get back to training again.

It was a very different end to the season for you, with far less pressure in the dying weeks than last year with Levante, did you miss it?We had chances to get into Europe but that ended with a defeat against Mallorca. Then we drew against Athletic Bilbao and had a final game against Zaragoza that was very strange. Last year, Levante were under pressure right up to the second-to-last round, but we got a tough point against Valencia so it’s different to this year with Getafe. But that’s good as it means we achieved our objectives. We weren’t under pressure, but it’s a shame we couldn’t push on for more, however, we didn’t have any problems.

Tell us about last season with Levante and that incredible late run that saw the team stay up...Last season was a great one but it’s all been over a four year process. It was fantastic for the fans who had really been having a tough time. It was a moment for everyone to enjoy and you have to appreciate them as there are always bad times. Just look at Villarreal, who began the year in the Champions League and ended it being relegated. Football is either about good times or bad, so you have to celebrate the positive moments. Levante have had four years of success with stabilisation, promotion from the second division, staying up and then this year’s campaign. These are some magical times so you have to congratulate them and hope they can repeat the success next year.

Motivation is important in football, so do you have a difficult job at Getafe, a team that’s usually too good to go down, but not good enough for the European places?It’s a club whose natural position is between eight and twelve and that’s where we are now. We can’t be compared with Málaga, Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla and Valencia. It’s impossible to compete with them. Then again we also can’t be compared with Racing or Sporting as we have a bigger budget. It’s not easy, we began the season badly so in the end we lacked the points to fight for anything more. The motivation is the need to improve and finish as high up the table as possible.

Could a lack of motivation in some teams be another reason for the huge gap at the top of the table to the other 18 teams?No. If the players at Valencia think that they are not going to win the league it’s because they know they are not going to win the league. Before when Valencia did win it, it was with around 70 points, and now Real Madrid have won it with 100 points which is something incredible. But in the group of teams in the level below Madrid and Barça, two were in the Europa League final, so these are two very good sides. But the other two are the best in the world. Anyone can win a knock-out match whether it be Getafe, Chelsea, Bayern Munich or Valencia. But no one else can win the regular league in Spain. After 38 games, it will be Real Madrid or Barcelona.

García lead Getafe to a win over Barcelona in November

How does la Liga compare to the Premier League?The English league is a lot more balanced, Manchester City have won now. Did I see the last day? Yes, and this is what makes football great. But you have other teams like Manchester United and Chelsea, but here it’s only two teams who can win. Madrid and Barcelona always looking for more signings and to improve. You have two teams, then a group of five or six and then the rest. I think Getafe can be one of the best of this final group. But it’s much easier for Getafe to fight to be in this group of five than for a team in the group of five to be in the group of two.

Do you think there’s ‘Fair Play’ off the field in la Liga, with some clubs obeying financial rules and others ignoring them and not paying taxes or their players?You can have a situation where the president of Getafe says “if we don’t sell this player than you don’t get paid”, so everything has to be improved in regards to how and when clubs can sign and there needs to be more punishment for those who don’t pay their way and meet their obligations. Imagine if you had a president who says 'we won’t sell anyone, we’ll bring in eight players which cost this much money and then they don’t pay for them'. It can’t be this way. Things need to be taken much more seriously. But I can’t give any solutions, it needs to be the club presidents and the League. They need to get together and demand that everything is taken more seriously. It’s logical that teams who do everything right can’t compete with those who don’t make their payments.

With the season now over, were there any players away from Real Madrid and Barcelona that caught your eye and ones to look out for?There were a lot. At Athletic Bilbao you have Muniain, Javi Martínez, and Llorente. You’ve got Adrían at Atlético Madrid, really good young players. The level of the players in la Liga is one of the best in the world, the average away from Real Madrid and Barcelona is excellent.

Looking at Euro 2012, how can it be that Spain’s first warm-up game comes a day after the Copa del Rey final?This is tough for everyone. In England you know when you are going to play your games way in advance, but not in Spain. Sometimes the first question is ‘when are we playing? Saturday, Sunday or Monday?’ it’s a bit in the air. But it was quite difficult as Madrid and Barcelona were in the Champions League semis so it was hard to find a date before that final for the Copa del Rey match, but this has been a problem for years and it’s hard to resolve.

Spain doesn’t look in good shape ahead of the Euros, with doubts over the fitness of Puyol and Villa and the form of Piqué. Are they still favourites?Yes, Spain are favourites but that doesn’t mean that they are going to win as the tournament is such a short one. As well as playing well, luck needs to be with you as well. When Spain won the last European Championships, they won a match on penalties. In the World Cup final against Holland there was a one-on-one with Iker Casillas and Arjen Robben. You need to be the best and have those moments go your way. If Spain were to take part in a league with 38 games they would be champions, but in such a short tournament they can be knocked out by anyone. 

What are your personal plans for the future?A football manager can’t have plans. I’d like to complete the two years I have left of my contract here. I began in the Segunda B, then I moved to Levante then it was Getafe. Everyone is happy at the moment but they can sack me in six months time. You never know what is going to happen, you live from day to day.

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