For more than an hour, Niko Kovac spoke to journalists on the occasion of his first press conference as coach of AS Monaco. Here's a recap of the Croatian manager's introductory press conference, during which he spared no subject.
His first contact with AS Monaco
The contact was a surprise to me, and the fact that everything happened so quickly explains the fact that I am speaking to you today in English. I hope to learn French quickly. As for my choice, the reason is simple: AS Monaco is a great club with a great history. It is true that the last few seasons have perhaps not lived up to the team's objectives but we will work hard to bring AS Monaco back to the top of Ligue 1.
His capacity for adaptation
Each coach has his own philosophy, his own way of thinking about football. In the past, I have played with different styles, whether at Eintracht Frankfurt or Bayern Munich. This may also be the case at AS Monaco. For now, I attach a lot of importance to having an overarching view of this team. After this first phase, I will be able to choose the best tactics and the best system of play that suits the team. We have to adapt. Each coach usually has 2 or 3 different styles of play they can play with in a season, but it's not easy to choose yet.
His impression of Ligue 1
Obviously I have been following the French league. French football is renowned, the national team is twice world champion and many great players have passed through both the national team and through AS Monaco. I will work to improve the team and make people enjoy watching AS Monaco.
The usefulness of his experience as a player
My experience as a player helps me a lot as a coach today. I have been fortunate to work with great coaches and that is the experience that I have been able to use as a coach and as a manager. These are the tools that I use, that I try to draw on as much as possible. I think the work done in the past by me, my brother and my staff can demonstrate this.
AS Monaco’s goals
You cannot change the past and these last seasons. We can however work on the future. This is what we're focused on doing We come here so that AS Monaco can get back to challenging at the top of the league. Our goal is to play in European competition.
His first sessions with the squad
The first contact with the group and the staff were very good. I take a lot of positive things from these first sessions which were very intense. As a coach, we need time but I believe that the five weeks that we have ahead of us will be useful to prepare well for the season and then to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves. I am sure that Paul Mitchell, Oleg Petrov and I can find solutions to make the team even better.
We are going to have our first friendly match tomorrow. I need to have an overview of the squad and the players involved. We will then have discussions with Oleg Petrov and Paul Mitchell on how to improve the team and I have every confidence in them to make the right choices. They will do their utmost to put at my disposal a very good team and I believe in them. This is one of the reasons I got involved -- I trust them. I thank them, as well as President Dmitri Rybolovlev, for the trust they place in me and I am very motivated to pay them back.
His way of working
I play an intensive style of football. It requires being in good shape to be able to practice it. I have had the opportunity to participate in a lot of preseasons in my career and I know that it is important to be in good shape physically, of course, but also technically and tactically. We will have to use every day over the next five weeks to work on these aspects in an optimal way. It will take a lot of drive and hard work for our first game in August and we will do everything possible to be in the best possible shape.
AS Monaco’s history of an attacking style of play
Obviously I remember AS Monaco's history. I played here in 1997-1998 with Leverkusen against players like David Trézeguet, Thierry Henry and Fabien Barthez. They was a very good team that played a good game. I'm also a fan of that but you also have to think about defending. You have to find the right balance and that's what I'm aiming for. I've always tried to play attractive football, but that means working with the players and getting the messages across. I have confidence in this group and I am sure that we will do a good job to make it happen.
If I ran into Robert Moreno? No, I didn't see him. Oleg Petrov asked me if I was fine with his greeting the players and of course, I found that normal. He was able to talk to the players before his departure and I find that very good.
There are three people with me in my staff: my brother Robert, my top assistant, who as you can imagine is a person of great trust for me on whom I can rely in all circumstances and who also had a very nice playing career. There is also Goran Lackovic, who is my second assistant and with whom I worked with the Croatian national side, and also Walter Gferer who is Austrian and who will be more focused on physical preparation. We are a small team but a solid team who know each other well and we can obviously count on each other. For the goalkeepers, for the moment we have Christophe who is doing a very good job. We are talking to Oleg and Paul, so we stay tuned for possible opportunities in the market. But for now we stay that way.
A mix of youth and experience
The important thing is to have a good mix. It's not a problem to work with young players, on the contrary, it's something that I really appreciate. I started at the Red Bull group and I took care of the youth teams there for a year and a half. Many of them are playing in the Bundesliga today and it is a source of pride to see their progress. I also devoted myself to young Croatian talents like Brozovic, Kovacic, Vrsaljko, who have blossomed today. AS Monaco is famous for its training center and its Academy, which has developed many great players. The academy players here work well and make the older ones work. In the end, the benefits are felt, it's really a good thing.
The club’s facilities
I am very happy with what I have seen since Sunday. When I arrived, I immediately said to Paul Mitchell: I love this training center. There is also this wonderful project with the new one. For now, it's true that it's simple, but there is a great atmosphere and it really bodes well for our work.
Croatians to have featured for AS Monaco
I know Danijel Subasic well, he did a wonderful job here. I will call him soon to hear from him and discuss AS Monaco. I will also call Dado Prso, because he is someone I appreciate and with whom I have played with the Croatian team. As he lives close to Monaco, it will be a great pleasure for me to see him again and discuss.
The Club’s fans
I know a little about the situation of AS Monaco and that does not prevent me from seeing that there are a lot of supporters from what I was able to see. This is something very positive because they will be able to encourage us all over France. It's up to us to do our best to bring the spectators into the stadium.