Galatasaray’s Domènec Torrent: ‘Returning to Barcelona is really special’ | Galatasaray

A The man with 14 major accolades won at Barcelona returns to Camp Nou on Thursday night. It’s not about Pep Guardiola but about his former assistant Domènec Torrent, who was at his friend’s side for more than a decade before trying to make a name for himself.

Torrent took over as manager of Galatasaray in January with the team 12th – their worst finish is 11th – after Fatih Terim was sacked amid a crisis engulfing the club. There have been green shoots of promise under the Catalan and the players are embracing his ideas, but the challenge of their Europa League Round of 16 is mountainous against a revived Barcelona side under Xavi Hernández, who played a vital role in the success of the club during Torrent. time there.

“Xavi is doing very well at Barcelona,” says Torrent. “He has totally recovered the style that has won the team so much. Xavi being manager doesn’t make him more special [to play Barcelona], although I have a very good relationship with him; it’s special because it’s Barcelona, ​​a team I’ve worked with for many years and supported since I was a little boy. It’s no secret, everyone knows that we are Barça fans. Now we are competing against them and now we are Galatasaray fans.

It’s a homecoming for Torrent, 59, who also worked with Guardiola at Bayern Munich and Manchester City, and his Catalan side behind the scenes. His playing career in Spain’s lower leagues, which ended at the age of 27, is a footnote to his coaching experiences, which led him to join Barcelona B as a video analyst in 2007 as Guardiola began his first job in the management of the Spanish fourth tier. The season ended with a league triumph and promotion to the top job at Camp Nou.

“It’s really special for us because we worked in the behind-the-scenes team at Barcelona for a long time, but I never imagined that,” Torrent said of his comeback.

“You always imagine leading a big club like Galatasaray, but you never imagine that one day it will lead to the Camp Nou dugout.

Lionel Messi (left) and Andrés Iniesta with the European Cup in 2009 – one of six trophies Barcelona won that year. Photography: Lluís Gené/AFP/Getty Images

“I have a lot of good memories at Barcelona, ​​especially the experiences with the players and the staff. The most special year was the first one when the team was able to win every possible title. That will always stay with me; no only we won six titles, but the way we did it, the style of play of this team, it will always be in our memories.

Unfortunately for Galatasaray, a draw against Barcelona could reinforce just how far the club have slipped behind their opponents across Europe. Continental competition, however, has offered a respite for Turkey’s 22-time champions this season. They won a group including Lazio and Marseille without losing.

“It is very important for me [to coach Galatasaray] because it is one of the big clubs, the most important club in Turkey and also very important in Europe, so I feel a great responsibility and, at the same time, a happiness to form this club with such traditions in the European football,” Torrent said.

“It’s always the hardest part with these big teams that aren’t used to being in the bottom half of the table. It’s not normal what’s happening at Galatasaray – that’s why they hired us – and the problems were the same before we arrived.

“It’s been a complicated year for the team but we are there every day to try to improve the situation and end the year in the best possible way, and start the next season much better for the club and the fans.”

Domènec Torrent (right) with Pep Guardiola' before Barcelona's game at Bayer Leverkusen in February 2012.
Domènec Torrent (right) with Pep Guardiola’ before Barcelona’s game at Bayer Leverkusen in February 2012. Photography: Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images

Torrent hasn’t been afraid to make tough decisions since his appointment, including replacing club captain and goalkeeper Fernando Muslera with Barcelona player Iñaki Peña. The workforce is far from being able to call on players of the quality of Gheorghe Hagi or Didier Drogba, who have had spells there.

Adapting to the fan culture in Turkey is imperative for Torrent, who learns more about the intensity of Istanbul’s rivalries and the pressure he faces from his own supporters when every lost point feels like a failure for a club the size of Galatasaray.

It is the latest job in an intriguing collection of learning curves for Torrent, whose three managerial roles since leaving City have seen him take charge of New York, Flamengo and now Galatasaray. He faces a challenge no matter the destination, as he seeks to implement what he learned in 11 years alongside Guardiola.

The Europa League was a bright spot in a difficult season for Galatasaray.  Here, Ryan Babel celebrates after scoring in the home win over Marseille.
The Europa League was a bright spot in a difficult season for Galatasaray. Here, Ryan Babel celebrates after scoring in the home win over Marseille. Photo: Tolga Bozoglu/EPA

“Working with Pep is very special. First, because he gives so much to his work, you learn a lot from him. For me, I think he is the best manager in the world right now and I love Manchester City football more than anyone. When you work with the best, it’s a privilege and every day is a lesson.

Words have been exchanged with Guardiola since the Europa League draw last month. Guardiola returned to Camp Nou unsuccessfully with Bayern and City: a win over Barcelona could help lift Torrent out of his former colleague’s shadow, or at least revive Galatasaray.

Comments are closed.