It has been a while since Muangthong United were the kings of the Thai League, but current coach Alexandre Gama is determined to bring back the glory days in 2020. Having lifted trophies at Buriram United and Chiangrai previously, the Brazilian tactician was bought in during the latter half of last season to rescue a Kirin side which had found itself languishing in the relegation zone – an unspeakable horror for a club of their stature.
Since his arrival, Gama managed to turn the team around, ultimately guiding them to a fifth-place finish with the highest points average of any team during the second half of last season. Now, with a transfer market to dive into and more time to mold the side in his vision, it is time to see whether Gama can turn Muangthong into title contenders once again. Here is his exclusive interview with Gian Chansrichawla of Football Tribe Asia ahead of the 2020 campaign.
During your time here last season, your team points average was 2.05, which would have been enough to win the league. How were you able to transform the team so quickly last year?
I think the players believe in me. This is the most important. They know what I have done [at] other teams, and the players talk to each other about how I train, how I can improve them and how I can improve the team. This has helped me a lot because when I go now to a new club, the players wait for me. They know I can improve the level of the players and the team, and build the team to fight for the championship. This is amazing for a coach because it makes [my job] more simple and easier.
I like to talk individually to players. I push them, I tell them what I want, what they do well and what they don’t do well. I always talk the truth, I never lie to the players. I was a player before and many coaches lied to me. I think it is unbelievable but it happens. If I don’t like a player I tell them directly, ‘I don’t like you, you can move. I don’t want to use you.’ Directly. And these players, they like me too because I tell them the truth.
Before you came, the team wasn’t in a very good place. What would you say the team was ‘missing’ before you arrived? What did you add to the team?
I don’t like to talk about what the previous coach didn’t do well. I think the most important thing is about when I started. If I started one month before, maybe we could go fight for the title. But I couldn’t come because the National Team didn’t allow it.
What we did here is that we bought confidence to the players, and these players accepted me well. Because they expected ‘hey coach Gama is coming, he did well there, maybe he can do well here.’ And I think [the players like] my training; how I train, how I talk directly.
We changed a lot about how the team plays, and this is very important. Very quickly, the team understood my style, my philosophy, and my concept about football. [The way] Muangthong played before I came is not what I think about football. How they play the game, how they play with and without the ball – it’s not what I believe. And when I [arrived], I tried to show the players this. I used many videos, I showed the players on the pitch and talked to them.
Maybe it was lucky but I don’t believe in luck, I believe in work, and we worked a lot. When I started, we lost the first game. This was, maybe, very nice. Because what I said would happen in the game actually happens, and the players [adapted] more quickly. I think about the concept, the philosophy, they understand and they enjoy playing with me.