José Tavares: Currently is the Head Coach in Charlotte FC NP, USA. He worked also in FC Porto, Boavista FC, FC Paços de Ferreira.

TP: How does that affect the sensitivity you need to have on recovery, especially with so many habits changing?

José Tavares: I’ve been using this methodology for over 20 years, so I believe I know how to handle it. My agreement with the players is clear: they don’t manage recovery; I do. They need to be present at all times. They’re starting to realize that they’re developing habits to stay focused. When they’re recovering, they may not realize it, but I’m managing the time, the areas, every aspect. I don’t manage their concentration; it’s either there or not. The intensity is always at its maximum.

After a game, for example, they have one day off, followed by a recovery session. They engage in games like 3 vs. 3 for one minute, which is a normal practice here. They enjoy the competition, and we organize a tournament.

They were tired from the game, but they participated because they understood it was part of their recovery. However, initially, it was a shock for them. They had the mindset that a recovery session should be light. After the session, they struggled mentally because they weren’t prepared. But they’re learning. After the fourth game, they’re starting to get it. They realize they need to be mentally ready because they’re always in game mode.

This shift in mental awareness and habits is becoming more acceptable to them because they see the benefits. The training sessions are enjoyable, yet they’re pushing themselves hard. I don’t allow them to revert to their old habits. If I sense they’re not fully committed, I will stop the session. It’s not about following a planned session; it’s about what’s actually happening with my players. Sometimes, I want more from them, but if they’re not delivering, it’s best to stop and revisit the next day. They’re still adapting to the new methodology, but they’re coming together, and that’s a significant point of progress.

TP: Looking back at your previous experiences, especially having spent so many years in the same club where a certain culture was already firmly established, how is it to face a completely new reality? How has this process been, not just in working with the players but also with all the structures around the squad?

José Tavares: It’s indeed a massive challenge that I willingly accepted by being here. I believe all coaches face this challenge when they switch clubs, but it’s crucial to fit within the culture. We can choose to do it the easy way or the hard way. Here, we’re striving to build a culture, and I firmly believe that people shape the culture. We have the power to choose our values and define our identity as a club. We’re all coming together from various parts of the world to Charlotte with the shared goal of creating something special for the club.

The club is starting to reveal itself to the world, but the question is, how do we bring everyone on board? How do we ensure that all the staff working for the club understand what we want to achieve? We’re tackling this from two angles. On one hand, the team needs to have a clear identity and values that represent everyone, including the supporting staff and the club’s administration. Simultaneously, these cultural aspects are also created off the pitch.

So, we need these two aspects to be developed simultaneously. We’re building awareness everywhere we go, attracting new fans to our stadium and academy games, and recruiting players. These two different constructions need to be aligned with the same vision for the club.

While we’re still striving for perfect alignment between everyone involved, it becomes easier when the team is on the field representing everyone, especially during league matches. However, some spectators may not fully understand the game, so it’s crucial to translate what the team displays on the field into something they can comprehend.

Some people come to the stadium for entertainment without necessarily understanding the intricacies of the game, but they can still appreciate it. This common language, this ability to translate the game’s emotions, is what brings people together.

When we talk about bringing people together, we feel the energy, we feel the unity, just like we do right now. And when these two creations—the team’s performance on the field and the club’s overall identity—come together, it’s truly amazing.

We experienced this in the last 4 to 5 matches of the previous season, where the stadium was filled with 40,000 people, and we were playing great football. Everyone felt united, and the club’s spirit was palpable. We want to continue this momentum as we add more teams within the club and grow together, balancing growth and maintaining our identity.

Ensuring everyone on the staff is aligned with the club’s values is crucial. The leaders, including the president, the owner, the sporting director, and the coaches, need to ensure alignment and bring everyone together on the same page.

It’s a challenging process everywhere, but it’s essential for everyone involved to be committed to the club’s vision. If someone is not fully aligned, it can pose significant issues. As leaders, we need to understand people’s values and ensure they align with the club’s vision. This process of building synergy and a shared vision happens every single day on the field with everyone involved. That’s why I prioritize this aspect and allow people the freedom to contribute. When we’re strict and don’t allow people to be creative, we lose them. But when they understand they’re serving something bigger—the club and the culture we’re building together—that’s when magic happens.

TP: Over these last years, we saw Coaches that had the ability to also change the way people perceive football. Is this evolution in football culture something we can draw parallels to our own club?

Don’t miss coach José Tavares’ response, in next week’s article.

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