Sklaper: What is this new challenge as a coach of Junior de Barranquilla?
Hernan Dario Gomez: A dream, because this is a very large institution. When I arrived at Junior, it seemed that he would reach a world team because of the treatment of the people, managers and players. I am happy and it is a great joy in my career to be in Junior.
Sklaper: How was the negotiation process with the Char?
HG: It was very secret, because I was in that same press rattle. Mine was quieter, but it didn’t seem strange to me because it was clear to me that it could be an important name among the number of technicians to arrive.
WEEK: Take Junior at a very difficult time. How do you see the environment to reverse the situation?
HG: That is palpable. Junior and Barranquilla are joy. Then, as the team is not going at a good time, the city is sad, and one notices in the street when people encourage you, but with help “do it, teacher, do it.” You have to work very hard, there is a good group of guys, look for the best companies, the best complements within the game. It is clear to me that you see footballers in training, but when you really meet them it is on game day. The first games are going to give me a lot of things to be clear. Junior’s jersey weighs a lot of kilos in first class, what will the weight be like at this bad time? Well, it weighs much more. Managers do a lot for the team.
Sklaper: Is Junior a super team?
HG: They have very good names and very good footballers, but you have to be very successful when choosing. If you get to a team and choose well, you have 90 percent guaranteed. We are hoping to associate them and that they understand each other. That also cost teacher Arturo and I just arrived. Hopefully I have the wand so that in time these guys get together and make a good team.
Sklaper: In the window of free players, are you going to reinforce any position?
HG: I am looking and if it is necessary to look for that quota in the best way. I will identify the difficulty to reinforce the team.
Sklaper: How much did the fact that Juan Fernando Quintero be on the team influence your decision?
HG: Juanfer is from the Antioquian family. It is also a great symbol of Colombians. It is a pride to be with him and direct him. I am happy, he has educated himself with my son and I have a lot of affection for him. He is from my family, he is affectionate, very mature, I see him with leadership and I see him physically very well. It is important that he engages, that we surround him well and that he is not the one singled out as the most and when he gets lost they don’t make him look like the culprit. We all have to work for Junior and he is with that thought and idea. I see him very happy, very happy in Junior and as happy as I am.
Sklaper: At times Quintero is frustrated. It seems that he wants to save Junior. What has he told you about that?
HG: He is a person who has learned to compete and has to teach many young people to compete like him and not feel that impotence so wild. I talked to the guys and asked them which team ran over them. We come to the conclusion that it has not played as well as expected, but it is not to be in the position we are in.
Sklaper: They have called it defensive and outdated. What do you reply to that?
HG: To play well in attack, you have to play well in defense. In Colombia we are called defensive to those ordered and tactical. It’s very easy to say defensive and that spreads around like when they talk about outdated coaches, I don’t know what that is, or when they talk about modern football, I don’t know what that is either. People cannot forget the history and what they are talking about now with new terminologies. We pressed high, we started the game, we worked 11 attacking and 11 defending. We were orderly, we made front changes, now it is a change of orientation. That is a management that is being given to say that a lot is known. So, the truth is that in football the story is always the same, they are trying to say that the water is wet. I can’t find a more modern football than Holland 74, Spain 2010 or Guardiola’s Barcelona. So no outdated techies. How does one get out of date in football? I don’t understand.
Sklaper: Are you worried that in Junior they get so many technicians?
HG: I was very well received by the managers and I felt like family. The team is great and I’m happy, but from what I think I need some changes to improve. It is that in football Bolillo is not arrived and that’s it. I’m sure if I don’t get results it’s going to be more difficult, but I don’t have the weapons at the moment in my job either. If the boys win the first dates, it will be spectacular because it will help me in my work. But it is not to say that they won or lost because I arrived.
Sklaper: Sure, but they are seeing you as the savior…
HG: I understand, but I also talked about that with Quintero, because when I saw him arrive I knew he was getting involved. But it can’t be something from him alone or from me, but from the whole team. We are not the only saviors. Now I arrived and I know that there is a commitment and I took it with positivity. I have always come to solve problems. It happened to me in Medellín the first time, because the team was about to be relegated and I played the final with Millonarios. Last year, 95 percent of what we worked for played a final. I went to Ecuador when I was last in a Copa América, I took them to a World Cup for the first time and the same thing happened in Panama. I have always had to start from the back to the front.
Sklaper: Are you going to ask Comesaña for the secret to success?
HG: Of course I’m going to call him, it’s from my heart. I am his half student in his style.
Sklaper: Why is it so difficult to be a Junior coach?
HG: It should be very easy, because there are all the weapons to work. It is a team that has everything, they provide everything, with a good venue, good fans, a good stadium. I don’t know, by God I don’t know.
Sklaper: How will you recover the level of Carlos Bacca?
HG: He is one of our idols. Carlitos is very dear and professional. In Junior everyone has now had difficult moments. If he regains his level, I know it will be extraordinary.
Sklaper: There is talk of problems in the dressing room and indiscipline of the players. What did you find?
HG: I am cheerful, I know that they have to experience many normal things in society. But in the first talk with the boys I told them about it, I speculated, and one of the boys told me: “Profe, the technicians here are all forewarned.” I have investigated, and speaking with the boys I realize that it is an extraordinary group. I arrived forewarned by many things that are said, but it is an extraordinary group of hard-working boys.
Sklaper: Because it is a stellar roster, there is talk of egos and little leadership…
HG: I am going to be the best leader of them from the bench.
Sklaper: Your main goal?
HG: The first is to start, because the Junior has not started, but I like the finals and the titles.
Sklaper: What do you say to the Junior fans?
HG: I have felt support and affection throughout the country. Talking to them about patience is repeated, but I do want a lot of support. They are our life and they are the people we love, so they should not get angry with us, because when we are in these problems is when we need them the most. I know this square, I directed the Colombian team here for a long time. We triumphed here then with that optimism.