John van ‘t Schip held his first press-conference on Monday as manager of the Senior Greek National Team, emphasising that “the energy has to change. The passion has to return to the team. The Greek people have to see a team which fights for each other and a positive result on the pitch.”
In July, the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) confirmed that John van ‘t Schip was hired to replace Angelos Anastasiadis as the head coach of the Senior National Football Team.
Goals with the national team: “First of all, I want to thank the organisation and the president to come and work here with my technical staff, Aron Winter and Michael Valkanis. We are very excited to start, and we’ve already started. We have been working in collaboration with Takis Fyssas and Kostas Konstantinidis to create this new beginning. At the moment, taking into account that we a limited amount of time, the most important thing is to create a team. After we manage to do that, only then can we start to talk about tactics and how we want to play. We have analysed the last few games, and we have also seen that there is quality. However, we have also seen that the players have not played up to their potential as a team. That is our first challenge which we will address to the players. Of course, we will have our own style of playing, we play 4-3-3 but you can use that formation in all different ways. The energy has to change. The passion has to return to the team. The Greek people have to see a team which fights for each other and a positive result on the pitch.”
If this is the biggest challenge of his career so far: “This is a great opportunity, we are very honoured to be a part of this project. We know about the history of 2004. In 1988, Aron and I were there when Holland won the European Championship. As a little country – just like Greece – our expectations weren’t high, but you can achieve a lot when you believe, when you fight and when you come together as a team. Of course, the generation of players must have quality, and it goes up and down. The fundamentals must always be the same, you must have a DNA of fighting and believing. When that happens, you can achieve a lot. I’m not saying that you can become European champions every time, but you can make it difficult for every difficult. We will do everything within our possibilities to get that belief back, while playing a certain brand of football which is Greek, not Dutch or German. The players are technically good and have fighting spirit. They have a history of being defensively solid. We have to create a good way of playing while achieving the best possible results.”
Chances of qualifying for Euro 2020: “If I didn’t believe we can achieve this, I wouldn’t be sitting here. You always have to keep believing, fighting and trying again. At the moment, we are in a difficult situation, but we’re not out of qualifying. The next game is the most important. That’s always the case of course, but it’s very important that we get a result against Finland. After this game, we will all play against each other again, and there are a lot of points on offer. We still believe that we can qualify.”
Thoughts on this current batch of Greek players: “Growing up as a boy, my first experience was Ajax playing against Panathinaikos at Wembley. Greek teams always make an impact in Europe, Olympiacos have just qualified for the group phase of the UEFA Champions League. As I have said before, it goes in cycles. The national team has always fought hard while winning trophies like in 2004. Every country has talent. You must bring this talent together and create a playing style which everyone believes in. You can define success at many different levels. You can have success with the fans being proud, and the players being proud to represent the national team. After that, you can achieve positive results.”
Focus of his work: “Right now, the most important thing is the game against Finland. We’ve been here for a month, analysing and identifying the players. In the meantime, we have also been looking at the under 15 and under 17 teams. However, at this moment in time, that is not our goal. It all depends on how difficult this period will be. We have agreed on this project to develop the younger groups of players.”
New players eligible to represent Greece: “We know that Sebastian Vasalidis is doing well at Paderborn, for example. There are also some other players who can be a part of the Greek national team if they gain citizenship. We are aware of those players. Vangelis Pavlidis and Marios Vrousai have been playing well over the course of the last year, they finished the season well at Willem II and have started in great form this season. Pavlidis has scored four goals with Willem II, a mid-table club. Vrousai is a good player who can play either on the wing or in the midfield as a number 10. They will give new energy to the team. Dimitris Limnios is also here. We want to put players on the right path.”
What has to be changed in the team: “I can’t make any judgements on what happened within the team, I can only analyse judge what we have analysed. We’ve seen a lot of things which we can improve. However, we also know that we only have three days. We’re sure that we can make a few things better and be clear in what will want. This will help the team come together, have a clear mind and knowing exactly what they need to do on the pitch. We can’t tell them a 100 thousand things, because we haven’t got the time. We have to make things simple. From what we have seen, we believe that we can make improvements for the upcoming games.”
The message to the players for the two upcoming matches: “We will show them footage of previous matches. They’re just a few things which can be executed better, they are not difficult. By doing that, I think that we will gain more structure in the way we want to play. We’re not going to conjure up a miracle, but we must work hard and communicate when we aren’t training together. Good communication with the players is needed. This is the start, we will analyse matches and good results always help. It’s all about building.”
Kostas Mitroglou being left out of the squad: “We will look at each player who is regularly playing for their respective club. As for Kostas Mitroglou, he has played three times for PSV, being on the pitch for 15 minutes and scoring two goals. However, he needs more time. We’re happy that he’s playing in Holland, and we hope that he will start playing for longer on the pitch. We know his qualities. If he starts playing more and continues scoring, he can return to the team. Lack of goals? It’s about the team, not individual players. The team has to defend and attack together. We must work on this. The opponents cannot continue playing through the lines of this Greek team, we’ll address this.”
Greece will play Finland (5th September) and Liechtenstein (8th September) in two vital UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers this September, with the Ethniki Omada requiring six points to realistically maintain a chance of competing at the final tournament.
*Image Source: gazzetta.gr