Partizan squad finished mid-season winter preps in Belek, Turkey, and boss Aleksandar Stanojevic spoke to journalists on number of topics ahead of season`s restart.
“We did everything we needed to do in Belek, apart from the day when it was snowing, which did shock us, although I have to say weather conditions were quite good overall. We had tough and strong opponents while in Turkey. Talking about each friendly, we were quite dominating Tikves game, had a good performance against Basahsehir – they were at the height of their preparation, controlled the game but didn`t threat us much. We were the ones who had good opportunities. It was a good test for us and we should have drawn that friendly, in my opinion. Dinamo Moscow was still picking up their preps rhythm but they line-up quite a strong team. We came out with number of youngsters against them and it was a good game too, we deserved a draw at least. Finally, we played champions of Georgia, an opposition similar to those you have in Europa League qualifiers. We played different games against different opponents and we`ve seen some things. Some players picked up and I`m pleased with our preps, in general”, said Stanojevic.
Partizan boss also gave a mark to Partizan winter preps.
“We are perfectionists, there`s always something lacking, but I would say our preps were 7,5 or 8 on a scale up to 10. In the papers, your rarely get 8, so let`s say it was 7,5. I`m pleased anyway”.
Partizan is having a tough February fixture schedule.
“It`a fierce start, number of really tough games but it`s going to be tough in March too. In February, we start with Radnicki Nis away and we lost 1-0 there last time around. Things are not going to get easier in March, April or May, it`s going to be really tough in May.But, I hope we will battle for the title all the way through”.
Partizan is five points ahead of bitter rivals Crvena Zvezda, playing them away on 27th of February. Stanojevic underlines football is going to be played after that match too.
“It`s not normal to expect those two teams will drop points in Eternal derby only. I believe you have to lose points elsewhere too, we have Surdulica, Subotica, Cukaricki, Nis, Eternal derby, five really tough away games. It`s natural to expect points to be dropped somewhere. I also believe our bitter rival cannot win all their tough away games. After that, we have play-off stage and it`s impossible to expect 100% record and Eternal derby to be crucial alone. We had incredible streak ourselves but we were close to dropping points on 2 or 3 games, even to lose against Proleter, to draw with Kolubara or Cukaricki…It can happen any day”.
Congested fixture list suggest sacrifices, even giving up on certain competitions. Stanojevic did set his priorities.
“I would give up on two other competitions just to win the title. It`s the title I`m interested about solely. I`m not interested in Conference League final or domestic cup trophy – title is something we all live for here, we all breath for it and we would give everything to win it”.
Partizan boss also spoke about number of offers for his players.
“We had great offers for three of our players and I`m not talking about Milovanovic. Jojic, Zdjelar and Markovic declined much better financial offers compared to Partizan contracts they gave, treble earnings in respectable leagues. They said they want to stay until the end of the season, to finish the job and I`m thrilled with it. There are offers that club cannot afford to reject but that`s up to club management. Vujacic also had an offer, I did too, before I signed contract extension. This club can give more to us compared to what we can give to the club. Actually, we all received lucrative offers as a result of being in Partizan. I`m happy to see player`s desire to stay but I always say anyone is free to go if they want, if they feel like going. It`s not a problem as long as they make such decision in time. We are now close to season`s restart and no one is departing at this stage”.
Stanojevic himself signed a new contract with the club.
“I don`t know if my signature had an influence on players to stay but I know there`s incredible energy among them to fight for the title. I signed a new contract but I had no intentions to leave anyway. At some point, there were question marks over my future and I wanted to end those rumours. But, I didn`t really had to sign anything, I never thought of departing”.
New arrivals are not expected, unless in extreme circumstances.
“I said before, we were only looking for defensive midfielder. I cannot sign a new forward when we have Milovanovic or to get a winger and prevent Terzic or Jovic from playing. We are not going to do things that clash with the way we work here. If we can sign a good player, he is more than welcome. For example, if we can sign Svetozar Markovic, we`ll be thrilled with it but I want to present some other player with opportunity, those who worked hard during winter preps. Of course, if a significant player shows on the market and we can sign him, we will do so”.
Meanwhile, Partizan signed two central midfielders with fine careers, Fejsa and Jevtovic.
“Fejsa was out of competitive rhythm for some time while Jevtovic arrived close to the end of winter preps. They both had other offers too. We were looking for defensive midfielder and I`m pleased with both signings. Jevtovic did well in a final friendly, didn`t play much but I`m pleased with him. Of course, we are gutted with Pantic suffering a long-term injury. Maybe, we should have reacted to his injury with another signing but it all happened quick and that`s the only bad thing that happened to us during winter preps”.
On the positive note, Partizan youngsters are gradually breaking through.
“I can name Bazdar and Milovanovic, they are in the mix. Bazdar improved compared to previous preps and in general. They are so young and I`m pleased with them both. You can`t have all your players in a same form during preps. At the beginning, some of them stood out, some did well midway through the preps, some of them towards the end. Natcho is picking up gradually, considering he wasn`t training for some time. We were slow with Markovic as he was absent for a long time too. However, youngsters Bazdar and Milovanovic really stood out”.