New Club Tijuana manager Óscar Pareja got into some specifics around his ideas for the squad for the upcoming Clausura. While he’s only been in Tijuana a short time, Pareja already seems to have a good idea of the direction he’s looking to take the club in the short term as well as long term.
In the press conferences held on Friday, Pareja said he’s looking to have a smooth transition with Tijuana. “We’re not looking to create a storm,” he said, going on to say that because of the short time until the start of the Clausura there realistically wasn’t enough time to look to implement an entirely new system. Tactically, Pareja noted his predecessor Diego Cocca utilized a 4-4-2 while in Dallas “a majority of the time we used the 4-2-3-1 with some variations” albeit with a false nine or a high central attacking midfielder. “Getting the game to your wingers (will be) one of our things.”
This bodes well for players like Eryc Castillo, who had some of his best games in the Apertura when he was given the ball and given the freedom to maraud up and down the touch line. He also noted that “the back isn’t going to be much different” and that he’s look to “use some of the constants that we’ve used in the past.”
This is a smart play, as Tijuana’s defense wasn’t usually the problem. Xolos defense often couldn’t overcome the inability of the offense to score, however Pareja probably will not be plunging head-first into the transfer market. “This window is short,” Pareja said in response to a question by NBC/Telemundo’s Carlos Ramírez regarding the transfer budget and targeted players. “One of my (instructions) from the owners are not to (make) signings to (make) signings. Be precise on the players. It’s better to wait and see if this is the player that the team needs instead of just going to find players to play and put names there.”
“At the same time,” he continued “Jorge and Nacho have been clear as well on their willingness to bring in a few players. Sometimes it will be progressive. The needs of the teams are there. We would like to respect the (players) we have here, but at the same time we all know that after the last tournament this team needs some adjustments. We would like to use that budget to seize the opportunities we may have for different players.”
Throughout both press conferences, Pareja also talked up the Xolos youth teams and academy as a source for the first team to draw from. Answering a question by Pro Soccer USA’s Arman Kafai, he noted that something he was looking forward to doing was to “measure what we can do in Tijuana. How can we help the development of the Academy, the development of the minor leagues here and different players,” pointing out that the strengths of Tijuana were similar to the “ones we had in Dallas. We’ll try and implement what we were successful with in Dallas, just do it here also.”
This echoed what he told ESPN FC’s Cesar Hernandez in the first press conference when he said the academy was “one of the things that has been a characteristic” of Club Tijuana. He went on to say “In Major League Soccer, we have had so many experiences where youth and the academy has had an impact as well on the first team. When I spoke with Jorge and Nacho and I saw the structure here in Tijuana, the way they are building the team and the participation and surely with the way many players (in the youth teams) can play on the first team too, I get excited.”
He stressed the importance of viewing the youth teams and academy as part of the overall organization, saying he wanted to help “Make the program included on the everyday equations with our first team. There are many players there that can surely be part of the first team, and we’ll be happy to continue with that idea.
He also talked about being reunited with Fabián Castillo, who he had coached during both of his stints with FC Dallas. “Life just gave us the opportunity to work together again. I think he’s great, and I have very high thoughts about what he can do,” Pareja said, adding that he was eager to “keep helping him to become a better player.”
“I’ve spoken to him already a couple times this week,” he continued. “He’s told me about the city, he’s told me about the club, and we’ve put ourselves on the same page.”