Rafa talks Madrid, CL and Spurs (the great continental sensation)
Plenty of van der Vaart associated coverage today, mostly on the non-event of a story concerning his recent substitutions (he always subbed, no?) and his disgruntled walk down the tunnel. I say disgruntled because the thinking here is that if you walk straight down the tunnel it has nothing to do with treatment but everything to do with making a point and showing dissatisfaction. It probably does have more to do with the latter, but hardly Ghalyesque.
Rafa is a colourful character, no debate there. Yes, he has an ego. And Harry always likes to respond to a question with a sound bite that will make him look good. Mountain, mole hill. In my opinon. The Dutchmen has hardly blasted the gaffer has he? It’s denial, self-avoidance of admittance that he’s frustratingly still not fully fit and the substitutions are a necessity. I wouldn’t start trailing through the newsfeeds and forums to find a nugget of ITK or news of a possible summer replacement for him just yet.
There have been other interviews (again, mostly concentrating and quoting and then exaggerating the ‘spat’ with Harry), but thought this one below would be of more fulfilling interest. Masses of thanks to Tony Lacatena for working through the article and translating it for us. The interview is from today's Marca (the Spanish national sports newspaper that loves its Real Madrid). Not a mention of Redknapp.
From: MARCA 22 March 2011, Page 4 (entire page)
VAN DER VAART "I'm not out for revenge, but this is the meeting of my dreams"
An interview with Sergio Fernandez
While the entire Tottenham dressing room was throwing their hands up to their heads following the [CL] draw, Rafael van der Vaart (Heemskerk, 1983) was displaying a cheeky grin. He will return to Madrid, where he is loved despite his brief sojourn. However he does so in order to continue making history with the "Spurs", the great continental sensation. Indeed so, with no rancour.
Q: Madrid crosses paths with you once again. This will be the first time you'll confront your ex-team, and no less than in the quarter finals of the CL. How do you face up to such a special tie for you?
A: To be honest, this was the meeting I'd dreamt of. I'm looking forward to seeing my friends from the club and team. I left RM in a good way and I'm proud to have been able to play there, in a top city and the biggest and nicest club in the world. I'm thankful every day for having been able to play for RM. These will be two very special matches for me on a personal and sporting level.
Q: You speak very well of your time with RM. Isn't there even a little bit of desire for revenge or to show that you still could have been a player in white?
A: Well no, I don't have the tiniest feeling of revenge, far from it. This is about feelings and links with the players, not the bosses. In two seasons I had good and bad moments. The biggest problem was that we didn't win anything, and because of this there were many changes in personnel. But there is no thirst for vengeance, at all. I enjoyed a big stage of my career in Madrid and I often recall those days. It's a memory I'll always take with me.
Q: How do Real Madrid with Mourinho look to you? Do you think the team have made a big leap in quality with the new manager, are they stronger now?
A: It looks very good to me. I get the impression they've grown a good deal. It is a great team.
Q: With Tottenham's permission, do you consider Madrid as one of the big favourites to win the CL?
A: (laughs) Of course. Unfortunately for them, Tottenham is crossing their path and we're going to have to stop them... (laughs again). No seriously, once you reach the quarter finals of the CL you can always win. You need a bit of luck, because to have got this far you have clearly proven that you are a good team. It will be a spectacular tie, passionate, an encounter worthy of the greatest European competition.
Q: How do you see RM in La Liga? Do you think that they are at a closer level to Barcelona compared to last year? Do you think they've closed the gap?
A: The previous season we managed almost 100 points in La Liga. Outrageous. With those points we would have been champions in almost all other previous seasons, if not all. The only thing is that Barcelona were immense too, better than we were. Unfortunately, I believe the same will happen this season. Madrid are phenomenal once again, but even so they're five points away. But the team looks better under Mourinho and I think that he is managing to bring them closer to Barcelona.
Q: The fans believe in Mourinho a lot and are convinced that they will return to winning titles with him.
A: Well, the truth is that there's a lot of season still to go and Mourinho has already proved with Porto, Chelsea and Inter that he's capable of transforming a team and win everything.
Q: Save Mou a trip to London to spy on you and tell me what are your team’s virtues are? What do Tottenham have that can surprise Madrid for a tie in which they're not favourites?
A: We are big team players, with lots of desire and we have quality. More so, we're able to play different types of football: generally a passing game, but we're also able to put everything into defence if need be, and to launch crosses into the area and look for chances. We hold lots of alternatives in our playing style, and that's important in Europe.
Q: Tottenham have a lot of good players in their books. Do you regard any one of your teammates above the rest?
A: Peter Crouch [haha]. He's a very difficult player for opponents to defend against.
Q: And what can you tell me of Gareth Bale? Over here he's creating a sensation, and there's talk of RM and Barcelona tracking him.
A: Another magnificent player. It's normal that they're tracking him.
Q: Having experienced the atmosphere at the Bernabeu on big nights, I imagine that you'll be advising your colleagues on how to deal with stage fright.
A: For sure, although we've already proved were able to bring our game in stadiums like the San Siro. It didn't bother us much when it was time to play. When you're in the game you forget the ambience around you.
Q: So you see your team as one with options, ready to bring a battle to a Madrid that, as you well know, is anxious to regain the European throne and conquer the Ten [the CL title].
A: We have enough quality to surprise RM over two games. If we get to play our game, we can get a good result at the Bernabeu. We'll have to produce our best, but we're ready for the challenge.
Cracking stuff. You heard it right - Crouch is endorsed by van der Vaart (that was an endorsement, right?). Tall joke aside, considering the amount of assists he's laid on for Rafa he was hardly going to pick anyone else. Although the less said about launching the ball in the box the better. Possibly something lost in translation there. He surely can't mean we hoof it. Crouch has good feet. Oh wait, he scores from the headed knock-downs. Horny sheath football it is then.
Thanks again to Tony for firing this across to me. Hoping that vdV keeps his cool and composure for that first tie in Madrid. No wild lunges and over-excited drama. Just a measured performance from a player both fit in mind and body leading the way forward at his galvanising best.