Raul Gonzalez: 'Make progress step by step'

Fresh from the first week of pre-season preparations, new Paris Saint-Germain Handball coach Raul Gonzalez talked to us about his first days in charge of the team.

Since Monday, Raul Gonzalez and his assistant coach Jota Gonzalez have been working with their new team, preparing for the 2018-2019 season. We sat down to talk to the Spaniard a few minutes before the afternoon training session, and he was relaxed, focused and already speaking French.

You met the team for the first time on Monday. How has the beginning of your pre-season gone?
"I think it's going really well. We've been working a bit less than a week, so we haven't had too much of an opportunity to train. But I have noticed that the lads being very committed in the sessions we have had; they work very hard. So far everything is looking great and we just need to give it a few weeks to see where we're at and where we're going."

How have you found your players in the first few sessions?
"The players are very happy. You get the feeling that they had a chance to rest up in the holidays and that now they're ready play handball again. But we mustn't rush anything. First of all we need to focus on our pre-season, and it's going very well."

Do you think you'll continue to call up youngsters from the youth academy, as you have been doing this first week?
"For sure! We need to work closely with the youth academy. We have a squad of 16 professionals but we won't hesitate to add some young guns from the academy when the need arises. We will take the time to work closely with Romuald Notari and his team so that we can get to know the players and then set up a more regular connection to the senior team."

What's next in your pre-season preparations?
"We'll make progress step by step in our preparations. The goal is to be raring to go for our first official matches. In the meantime, we will notably play against Aalborg in two friendlies. Obviously we won't be preparing for these matches as if they were in the Velux EHF Champions League or the Lidl StarLigue. We mustn't get ahead of ourselves. We're in the thick of our pre-season and we will play in a way that corresponds with our progress."

The Rouge et Bleu take on Aalborg in Denmark on 17 and 18 August.