Domenico Tedesco was the trainer-flyer at FC Schalke 04, then landed unsafe and went to Russia to Spartak Moscow. But this was not an escape, the 34-year-old assures in the interview of the German Press Agency, but a well thought out decision.
Mr. Tedesco, how were your first nine months in Moscow?
Domenico Tedesco: Extremely exciting. When my team and I started, Spartak Twelve was two points ahead of the pitch. The start was bumpy, and the Corona time was, of course, also very difficult. But in the end, we have achieved the goal of leading the extremely young team into safe waters. We finished the season as the seventh, two points behind a European League ranking and were unfortunately eliminated in the Cup semi-finals with Master Zenit. That is why we are satisfied for the first time.
The season in Russia ended only at 22nd. July and now begins again at 8th. August! How does it work?
There is of course no chance of proper preparation. But we had three or four weeks before the Corona reboot, and that was the preparation until December. The players were now out for seven days to clear their heads, we trainers five.
It has already been announced that your club will not get many new entrances in the summer.
Yes, that is so. But as it continues immediately and without preparation, it would be difficult to install many new players anyway.
Spartak is a record master, the goals are high. How is it possible to improve significantly in the coming year?
It will be difficult, but it is possible. The top clubs have many experienced players, but the average age of our starting eleven was often around 23 years. But we have talented boys, and the experience of the last year will help the development.
Do you feel reminded of your time at Schalke by a club whose claims come mainly from the past?
Great names associated with great history always create high demands. That’s what makes it tick. But you also have to look inside the packaging and take into account the current situation and the respective possibilities.
They say you can already speak Russian and give some interviews.
I can speak a little Russian. But I have to make it better. Luckily, I have a simultaneous interpreter who’s great. I can babble for ten minutes, he remembers everything.
Is two years after the World Cup 2018 any of the World Cup euphoria left in Russia?
Basically, Russia is a football enthusiast. And in the top duels, the stadiums are also full and a great mood. There’s always something going on with us at the stadium anyway. But that’s not the case with some other games. That’s why I don’t know how much of the World Cup is left.
You’re obviously full of heart in any case, as you’ve seen recently.
You mean the yellow-red card in the derby against Lok? I’m always there with body and soul, and I’m emotionally involved. But this card was too hard for me. I once said no foul, then I got yellow. Then I said again “no foul”, and already it was yellow-red.
Was it then a conscious step to go to another league that was less respected in Germany after the time on Schalke?
No. After the emotional time I switched off Schalke and didn’t think about the next step. There were some inquiries and Spartak’s one matched them. It was not obvious at first glance, but I looked at the city and the club a few days before my decision and had a good feeling. Spartak is like the FC Bavaria of Russia, has 30 million fans all over the country and an eerie power.
So the decision was right?
Absolute. Who can claim to have trained the FC Bavaria of Russia? Experience values are priceless.
How do you look back on Schalke time?
Everything was in there and everything was on it. First came success and a hype. Then came a bad phase and a lot of criticism. You have to accept that.
Do you get jealous when you see that the current coach has not won 16 games and still gets to stay?
No. I got a lot of credit back then, too. Manager Christian Heidel stood behind me until the end. I had plenty of chances on Schalke to still shoot it. That’s why I’m not jealous. What I find regrettable is the black-and-white thinking that prevails in many places. Because even in the second season, it wasn’t all bad. For example, we were in the Champions League in the Eighth and Cup in the Quarterly Finals.
How did you, as a Schalke fan, follow the crash in this round?
When we were preparing for the rematch, the Bundesliga already ran. So I could see many games. And I have already joined.
With Press Chief Thomas Spiegel, Finance Chief Peter Peters and Supervisory Board Chairman Clemens Tonnies, three of your closest employees have recently left. How did you track it?
I was extremely sorry that Thomas Spiegel was removed. We have worked very closely together, he is humane and technically top of the line and carries S04 in his heart. But I also had a close relationship of trust with Peter and Clemens.
With tones it was certainly inevitable.
I want and cannot judge everything that has happened around it. I’ve been too far away for that in the last few months, in the truest sense of the word. But it is strange to see Clemens no longer in a responsible position on Schalke.
Is it possible for you to return to the Bundesliga soon? Or would you rather seek new experiences in other leagues in Moscow?
For the first time I am completely fixated on Moscow. There is no career plan. But if I wanted to go to the Bundesliga, I’d be there right now. There have been some specific questions in the last few months, but I am in Moscow and I feel comfortable here.
In the last few months you have also trained Andre Schrrrle there, who has now declared his resignation with 29. Was that foreseeable for you?
I did not have the information that he wanted to stop. But it has already been a little marked, because Andre spoke extremely honestly and free of vanity about his situation. Andre is a great person, and it has been a great pleasure working with him. We still have good contact.
When Marcell Jansen resigned with 29 and Per Mertesacker spoke of fear attacks, there was more laughter and misunderstanding. Is there more understanding in the scene and among the fans?
Basically, I hope we are one step further. When a 29-year-old says he wants to quit because he’s not having fun and he’s out of fire, you have to pay respect. It wouldn’t have been a problem to sign a contract anywhere. You can play a lot. He didn’t even try that first. I have respect for that honesty and courage.
Is the pressure in this business generally too great?
You have to put on a thick coat as a player. And as a coach. There are many moments when you have to be strong. You get scored after every game. On the other hand, it’s still a dream job. We all started with football because it’s so much fun for us. All the drumming is part of it. One can handle it better, the other less.
Should one abolish the ratings or surveys such as the “loser of the year”?
You have to stand over it, and people have fun. And if you get rid of it, there will be something new. You simply have to find a tool to deal with it.
One that is really thriving under the supposed greatest pressure in Munich is your ex-player Leon Goretzka. Did you expect it to develop?
Leon is a top boy and I am very pleased with the development he has taken.
Did you recognize him after the Corona break with all the muscles?
I have seen before-after images, that was already a big difference. But of course I recognized him. The laugh was the same.
About the person: Domenico Tedesco (34), born in Italy and raised in Baden-Wurttemberg, already trained youth teams at VfB Stuttgart during his studies. With 31 he became head trainer at Erzgebirge Aue and saved the two-time rider from the descent. With FC Schalke 04, he was later released in March 2019 as a surprise vice-champion. Since October 2019 he has been training the Russian record champion Spartak Moscow.