Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho found support from an unexpected quarter, when The Quint caught up with former Arsenal great Robert Pires. When asked about the ongoing public feud, Pires threw his weight behind the Portuguese manager.
Mourinho is one of the best managers in the world. He has won everywhere. In Portugal, in Spain, in Italy and in UK.Robert Pires
Instead he asked Frenchman Paul Pogba to answer his critics on the field rather than slandering the manager off it.
“Paul Pogba in one of the great midfield players. The message is for Paul Pogba. For him, it is very important to be focused on his job. If you don’t have a good relationship with your manager, it is okay. For me, it is very important to do maximum on the field,” said Pires.
Pires, who has now donned a new hat as the LaLiga Ambassador, was in India last week to launch the LaLiga Football Schools. The French footballer is no alien to football in country.
He played in the inaugural season of the Indian Super League (ISL), where turned out for the Goan oufit – FC Goa.
Talking about the impact and future of ISL in the footballing contour, Pires said: “It is interesting because I think some of the Indian players they learn something, and I think for the ISL it is very important to continue bringing foreign players because the mix can help the ISL more the next editions.”
Pires pointed out how the Indian footballers have changed over the course of last few years, with their technique and physicality going through a sea change.
Of course, technically they have learnt something so it’s good news. Some of them physically. They are very strong now. They run a lot. I think they work hard. And for ISL and in future for the national team this is a good point.Robert Pires
When asked about the role the LaLiga Football Schools will play in strengthening the grassroot football in the regions, Pires said it was all about making sure an Indian player plays in the LaLiga in the near future.
“LaLiga Football Schools is an excellent initiative to help develop the game in India. It will give access to the world’s best curriculum and facilities to young children in the country who want to pursue football. I can see India becoming a force to reckon with in the coming years in world football,” Pires added.
Pires believes despite the absence of Ronaldo from the LaLiga, who has joined Italian Champions Juventus this season after spending nine years at Real Madrid, the league will continue to enjoy same amount of fanfare, courtesy Messi and the current FIFA Best Footballer of the Year – Luka Modric.
I don’t think this is a problem for LaLiga. We still have Messi with Barcelona and we have lot of great players in LaLiga. For example, we have one of the best – Luka Modric. He plays for Real Madrid. He is a great player. You have Coutinho, Suarez. You have lot of great Spanish players. Like Isco, Asensio. So, I am not scared because Ronaldo has left. This is football.Robert Pires
When asked about his former club Arsenal, Pires was excited about the new era under Spanish manager Unai Emery.
This is a new page for Arsenal because they changed everything. Arsene Wenger is not the manager anymore. So, this is a new era for Arsenal. They brought in new Spanish manager Unai Emery, who is a great manager. He is doing well in both Premier League and Europa League. He has only lost to Manchester City and Chelsea and since then he has learnt a lot.Robert Pires
Pires joined Arsenal in 2000 and played there till 2006, scoring 62 goals in 189 appearances. In not only did he win two Premier Leagues but was also a crucial part of the ‘Invincible’ squad at Arsenal which remained unbeaten in the Premier League in the 2003-04 season.
Pires confessed that he will always be positive about the Gunners and thinks Arsenal might end up winning the Europa League.
I am always positive when I talk about Arsenal, but I think Arsenal has the potential to finish on the top four and why not win the Europa League at the end of the season.Robert Pires
It has been great year for French football. After 1998, France lifted the football World Cup for the second time in 2018. Pires was part of the 1998 side led by the current French coach Didier Deschamps who won the trophy for the first time in their own backyard.
When asked which was the better side – the class of 1998 or the ones in 2018 – Pires was quick and prompt with his answer. As it he had rehearsed the answer many times.
The best is my team. Of course. You know what? Because we played with Zinedine Zidane and Youri Djorkaeff. They are ones who make a difference in the game.Robert Pires
“But I am kidding. The most important thing for a manager is to find good players good balance, to build a good defence. And Didier Deschamps did build a very good team. Of course, he is not the same because he played with a young team. In modern football you can win with young players, which maybe the difference from my time,” Pires added.
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