Partizan boss Gordan Petric spoke to media reps upon arrival to Belek training camp.
What is the Belek training camp schedule? You`ve done basic training in Belgrade, emphasis are on friendlies now?
“We had a short meeting with players straight upon arrival and before dinner. We looked back at what we did in Belgrade and I told them we are very pleased with their efforts and behaviour over the past 20 days. I believe we did significant part of the job and I think team feels better now compared to the start of the mid-season preps. We enter different pace now; there`ll be two training sessions a day and five friendlies along the way. We are also trying to add one more friendly to our schedule, on 20th of January, when senior players will have a day-off but our youngsters could play full game and give us more insight of their current abilities”, said Petric.
You have 32 players at your disposal and all of them have enough time during a 16-day training camp to prove themselves but there`s only 11 in the starting line-up. You probably enjoy in such competition and strength of this team?
“When we return to Belgrade, some of the youngsters will return to their respective age groups. We have two players from Partizan B, boys from youth teams and players who can keep playing for youths. Gradually, team will be reduced to 23 players. It`s important to me for them to behave in a right manner over the next 16 days although I`m sure there`ll be a bit of nervousness but football is such job where you have to balance it all in a best possible way. They depend on each other but we and we have to help them there. Preps are long, we have friendlies too, and we`ll draw a line at the end of it and reduce it to 23 or 24 players restarting the season”.
Among the players there`s well-known name – Milos Jojic. He`s not part of the squad officially but what is the idea regarding Jojic taking into the account Partizan is looking for a signing on a playing position he is in?
“When I took over, I had a desire to see Jojic sign a contract as he was in Partizan B at the time maintaining his form levels. At that particular moment, he was not ready to make a comeback and it remains to be seen if he`ll do it now. Jojic expressed his desire to train with us and with him being with us now there might be a chance of him signing. Jojic is a quality player and we will find it hard to sign such a playing profile on the market, especially on a free transfer”.
How did Jojic adapt to your concept of work, considering eight players he played with in his last spell with the club departed last season?
“He`s got the quality and Jojic played in a big clubs so it`s not a problem for him to be part of any team. I see he works hard, he`s having fun, lots of player from the existing roster know him and that can only be a good thing”.
Do you expect any new faces, new signings?
“I said before and I`ll say it again – I personally don`t need new players, in general. But, if someone departs, we need new signing to fill that spot. Moreover, if a big quality name appears on the market, better than the boys we have here, than I`m in favour of signing. You don`t sing such player for a period of three or four months but you are looking at three or four years. I`m ready to double or triple up certain playing positions in such circumstances”.
FK Partizan General Director Milos Vazura confirmed club`s interest in Israeli player Dolev Haziza and announced two more signings in summer transfer window. What`s the story there and what is your role in final decisions?
“I have a final say when it comes to players on offer. Haziza was recommended by Natcho but I saw the lad in CL matches and against Crvena Zvezda last summer. He`s Israeli international and that says enough about his quality and I looked at him again – you can`t be sure he`ll adapt to certain style or concept. However, same can be said as in the case of Jojic – quality player can always adapt. I asked Natcho about Haziza`s character and I received positive info, Natcho was full of praise for the lad and I passed the info to the club executives. Negotiations and offers are not something I`m interested in from my perspective, I`m only interested in a player himself. As for the two summer signings, it`s just small talk, I`m not sure if we can get to sign them. But, we need to make a space for newcomers and they have to be a quality signings”.
Upon arrival to Belek, we met some former Partizan players – Miroslav Bogosavac, recently departed Nikola Terzic now with his new club and Partizan will play CSKA Moscow with Sasa Zdjelar here.
“That`s inevitable, just as it was when I was in my playing days. I always wish those boys better conditions and different challenges. I`m not going to stand anyone in the way as I was there and there`s simply the time when certain players have to leave”.
In this transfer window, only Nikola Terzic departed so far, on a 6-month loan to a second-tier Turkish side.
“When the offer came, Terzic asked me what I thought of it, I also asked him what his thoughts are, how he feels and he replied he would try to go somewhere with more playing minutes involved. He got my approval as I didn`t want to stand in his way and I hope Terzic will get that space and those minutes in another team for him to return to Partizan again. That`s football, sometimes it works for you, sometimes it doesn`t and you are out there searching for your lucky spell. Terzic probably deserved more minutes but he was unlucky that Diabate is there, someone who showed much more compared to him and some other players. I admire Terzic`s courage to go and try himself out in a different environment, I respect it”.
You said once how it`s easier to play against big teams. Are you worried of lack of info on Sheriff at the moment?
“I`ll be honest with you – I didn`t watch them yet as they made a lot of changes to their roster, lots of new players arrived with only three or four from the last season`s roster remaining. You might find it awkward but those are the facts, Sheriff will play their first game this year against Partizan while they`ll be able to see us play two competitive matches before our tie. Therefore, we`ll have to be more curious in that direction, to try and find out if they`ll play any friendlies to look at. It would be nice if they arrive to Turkey for a training camp too, then we`ll send someone to see them or watch them play on football platforms. It`s all about 11 against 11. In my playing days, there was no so much scouting involved so we had to make out. We`ll try to find out as much as possible regarding Sheriff but if that`s not possible, we`ll have to rely on the first leg of our tie, we`ll be able to see enough from there but, as I said, it`s all about game of two teams and the green”.
UEFA Europa Conference League will introduce VAR technology from knockout stage onwards. Do you like the idea?
“We do and probably Sheriff does too. In certain moments, technology can be of significant importance but it`s all down to players at the end of the day”.
You said you expect much better Partizan this year. Do you notice progress already?
“I do, but it`s better if you ask players themselves about it. On the other hand, whichever player you ask, they`ll tell you these are the best preps ever, we never worked better…I would say that this system with one long session a day suit them. We had two hours or more of training a day and we used to do a lot along with enough rest in-between. Fatigue was there obviously but they did it all and allowed me to believe their physicality will be good. We`ll see if we are going to add something to our game after two or three league games, not the first one as we will be just out of the tough preps and surface conditions away in Krusevac won`t be as good as home ones, especially early in February. Therefore, we need to finish that opening game in a competitive manner then we can get into the routine with things going more our way, playing home and on better pitch surfaces in general. Everything will be more than clear after that first competitive game of the year”, said Gordan Petric.