Michels was born in 1928. He represented Holland
a centre-forward in the early 1950's before turning his attention to management.
At Ajax he pioneered and developed the philosophy of total football during
the late 1960-'s which stressed the importance of versatility, adaptability
and all-round skills. Built largely around the talent of Johan Cruyff, the
system brought success in the European Cup in 1971 and 1972. Their
partnership was resumed at Barcelona, and then at the international level,
when Michel's Dutch team, captained by Cruyff, reached the World Cup final
in 1974 before losing to West Germany. In 1988. Michels guided Holland
to the European Championship, successfully integrating individual stars such
as Ruud Gullit and Maco Van Basten into a disciplined and well-organized
team. He has also coached the Los Angelos Aztecs and Bayer
Q: Mr. Michels, I would like to tell our readers if you see
a major difference in the game of football as it is played today, and the
sport as a whole compared with the sport in your time.
There are differences in the game today because the rules
have changed. The attitudes of the players are different as well.
Years ago, the players played with a greater sense of pride and as
many others have stated, the players played to win as opposed to playing
not to lose.
Q: With regard to players, many consider Ronaldo to be the greatest
player of this time what is your opinion?
A: There are numerous variables to consider when making a statement
as to who one thinks is the "so called" greatest player. If
criteria as to whom is the best player is based upon who is a more
spectacular player, then I would have to say that Ronaldo is the best.
However, in actuality, the most spectacular player is not always the best.
The players who set up the goal are often overlooked, and it is they who
have the most difficult job. Much attention is given to the forward but equally
important (to scoring) is setting up the goal or creating the opportunity
for the forward to score. For a team to be consistently successful it must
be equally balanced in all positions and aspects of the game.
Q: As our magazine also focuses on the development of playing surfaces
I'd like to ask your opinion of today's surfaces as compared to those of
years past when you were playing . Also to what degree does the grass
surface impact on the players' ability?
A: The quality of the playing surface was always a critical factor.
A well groomed low cut playing surface is usually preferred because
the ball tends to run smoother and faster. With the advances in technology,
the playing surfaces are much better than the ones years ago, particularly
at the world cup level.
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