With 16 wins and a attract 17 matches in all competitions, Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen might scarcely have had a greater begin to the season. A serial winner in a membership profession which included stints at Liverpool, Actual Madrid and Bayern Munich, Alonso was a key member of the Spain staff which broke by means of for a primary World Cup victory in 2010, bookended by two European Championships. Alonso retired in 2017 and moved into teaching, masterminding Actual Sociedad B’s promotion to the second division for the primary time because the early Sixties.
He got here to Leverkusen in October 2022, with the membership wallowing within the relegation zone.
Regardless of some early wobbles, successful solely one among his first seven video games, Alonso took them to sixth place by the season’s finish and a Europa League semi-final.
Leverkusen’s sensible begin to 2023-24 has followers dreaming of a first-ever Bundesliga title.
However even away from Germany’s football-mad industrial Rhine-Ruhr area, loads imagine one of many recreation’s premier gamers is changing into the subsequent elite supervisor.
Within the Bundesliga, Leverkusen have picked up 31 of 33 factors, equalling the report set in 2015-16 by Pep Guardiola’s Bayern – the place Alonso featured in midfield.
Alonso advised AFP and different media there isn’t any secret behind his strategy.
“I discuss, work, present, enhance, do collective coaching, particular person coaching, I do not know the title of the strategies: it is face-to-face dialog.”
The coach stated he knew his aspect had “large potential” when taking up.
“With a bit bit of fine work or change of temper and confidence, we might do higher”.
Whereas Leverkusen’s pass-heavy type remembers that of Guardiola, Alonso rejected easy comparisons.
“Not tiki-taka” Alonso stated, explaining “many occasions tiki-taka is a bit bit defensive possession. I’ve performed in it, however we now have different issues.”
Alonso’s footballing philosophy may be well-defined, however the coach was cautious to emphasize it’s not inflexible.
It’s clear that he understands the significance of participant company, saying “I am not a fundamentalist that calls for we now have to play a sure method.”
“No, since you (the coach) are usually not crucial particular person. The opposite guys (gamers) are extra vital than you.”
“I used to be inspired to have my very own creativity on the pitch, to make my very own choices.
“It isn’t about being robots… They’ve the data and the standard to resolve what is sweet.”
Viral movies present the 41-year-old firing good passes throughout the pitch with all of the management of his enjoying days.
The previous central midfielder smiles when requested if he’s the staff’s finest passer and admits he misses enjoying the sport.
“I should not say it, however sure. I miss (enjoying).
“It isn’t the identical” Alonso stated of teaching “enjoying is best, enjoying is significantly better.”
Former Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka, 31, arrived in summer time and stated the coach has already improved his recreation.
“Alonso is displaying me many, many small particulars on the pitch. It is one thing particular”.
‘Neverkusen’ no extra?
Leverkusen’s 5 second-place finishes, together with shedding the 2002 Champions League last to Actual Madrid, have given rise to the undesirable ‘Neverkusen’ moniker.
Alonso, nevertheless, shot down discuss of pipping perennial Bundesliga winners Bayern to the title.
“The problem now will not be in opposition to Bayern. It is in opposition to what we are able to do, how far we are able to attain, and whether or not we need to be in that place.
“If we’re right here in