Xabi Alonso is now officially the coach of Bayer Leverkusen, who parted ways with Swiss coach Gerardo Seaone. The 40-year-old Spaniard former player of Real Madrid, Liverpool, and Bayern Munich most recently coached Real Sociedad B.
This is Alonso’s first job at a big club which is a huge step for someone who is relatively young in the coaching game, and he recently revealed why he only did it now.
“I had the chance to take on good teams as a coach. But I felt I needed more time. Now I realized that I’m ready,” said Alonso (via Sport1). “Yes, there have been inquiries [from Spanish clubs]. But for me, things stay in my head that I feel good about. That’s how it was at Bayer. I know the German mentality; I know the seriousness. This helps.”
He also said that he is used to the atmosphere of German football and that this move makes sense. “We really enjoyed it in Munich back then and we will also feel at home here. I got to know the mentality and seriousness in Germany back then,” Alonso said.
It is also fitting that Alonso chose to coach Leverkusen because he was able to learn and speak German during his time with Bayern. Can he still do it? “After five years I must have forgotten some German, but I will try,” Alonso said. “It’s a big project and we have big goals to achieve. But please ask questions slowly. Maybe I’ll switch to English sometimes.
“I have to do it a bit [speaking German]. I know that we definitely have six German players. I will also do it in Spanish and English. I just don’t know French.”
Alonso made his debut in the Bundesliga as a player against Schalke, and he will face the same team in his managerial debut. “It’s different. I didn’t have time to prepare back then,” Alonso recalled. “This time we have two days. And we can get to know each other. We want to be dominant. I know that time in football is a luxury. We have to be very effective now.”
The league as we know has improved massively over time, so Alonso had to prepare more. He also noticed the rise of younger coaches in the league. “I kept following the Bundesliga. The teams have gotten better”, said Alonso. “So, I had to feel even more ready because I know the league has gotten better. There are also a lot of good young coaches here.”
Let’s hope his situation doesn’t turn out like the current one of his similar sounding countryman over in FC Barcelona...