Today feels like the real start of the 2013 season as Punik has flown into Fukuoka and had a press conference to be unveiled as the new manager (along with the new players for this season).
After arriving at the airport last night (where a few fans had come down to welcome him) he had apparently had little sleep because of the jet-lag but seemed very relaxed and in good spirits throughout the press conference.
After a brief introduction in which the club said they had flown over to Slovenia to interview him before signing him as manager Pusnik gave a brief introduction to himself.
In this he seemed to make a point of saying that while Slovenia is a small country (about the size of Fukuoka prefecture in terms of population) it has been to the world cup twice and european championships twice in the last 16 years, with 5 players from his school in particular going to the World Cup in South Africa.
From this I take that he sees the importance of building through youth and training a system and technique early; something which is exactly Fukuoka needs with football being very popular, but so many top Fukuoka players moving away from the area to become professional.
He said that while some managers are all about tactics and systems, and others consider themselves coaches above all else he is somewhere in the middle. Perhaps most tellingly he said that he understood the system of a power hierachy in Japanese businesses he wanted to work very much as a team with his staff, rather than just giving out orders as ‘a boss’; and if that involves him laying out the water bottle and training cones then he will.
It’s an interesting statement, and one which is quite a contrast to Maeda last year who very much wanted to keep himself very much above and away from everyone else.
I wanted to know what sort of formation and system he favoured, and while a question was asked about this there weren’t a lot of details (possibly intentionally). He said he wanted to play a fast game (which was translated into aggressive) which the spectators would like to watch. The need for good levels of physical fitness was again mentioned after also being talked about by Takano.
A later question also mentioned the need to be able to counter well.
All very good points from what I’ve seen over the last couple of years, and sort of leads me to think there will be a greater emphasis on a pressing game from higher up the pitch, with more direct approach play (rather than solely relying on a possession game with often little progression as last year).
The conference finished with the players introducing themselves which was fairly standard, but did contain some players saying their squad numbers which as far as I know has not been released previously. Funayama and Kanakubo both look set to be starting as they get #7 and #8 respectively. Park Gon was #13, Nakahara was #20 and the 2 school kids signed at the end of last year were #24 and #26.
It all ended with a group photo and excruciating Banzai-type photo shoot.
Pusnik dealt with this very calmly, and even suggested his own 123-Avispa group huddle which was a nice touch and probably the best way to deal with what can be a fairly painful experience for foreigners.