Rosario speaks up

The vibe that he gives off on the pitch is the opposite of what he’s like in his everyday life; such is the paradox of 25-year-old Pablo Rosario. Whilst it’s not advised to linger around the former PSV captain when he has his football boots on, being with him in “normal life” is always a pleasure. Midway through the summer of 2022 and with a red-hot August ahead, the Dutch midfielder and boss of the Rouge et Noir dressing room put his usual discretion to one side to give us his reading of the squad, the whole thing with ice-cold determination.

What have you made of the squad’s first three weeks of pre-season?
It is hard, but we’re enjoying it. The sun is out, and it’s good weather. We’re back again as a group, so there’s a lot of laughing and good energy.

With the change of manager, are the sessions any different?
I wasn’t here this time last year, so I can’t really compare the two periods, but there is a difference in training. Physically, we’re doing a lot of work, but it’s always with the ball. That’s better for me mentally. Every day, I get ready to work depending on the expectations of the coach, who’s really focused on the basics. He has us working on them all the time and always says, “You’ve got to have a good technique, a good left foot and a good right foot to use the ball fluidly.” I think that’s a good thing for all of the players and especially for me as a midfielder. In my position, I have to be quick, and if you can play with both feet, it’s easier to make the game faster.

Is there any difference between what Lucien Favre is asking of you and what Christophe Galtier used to ask of you?
For now, everything is with the ball. We want to play a certain kind of football, and to do that, we need everyone on the pitch. He just wants everyone to move. For me, it’s also really important to always be in movement, even if it’s only two metres to the right or two metres to the left but just always being in movement. Like I just said, the coach wants us to play with both feet, so that’s really the thing that he’s focused on in the last three weeks, and I’m really liking it.


As a player, how much importance do you give to results in friendlies?
The results aren’t important because we’re only in the first three weeks of pre-season, and we have a new coach and a new playing style; everything needs time. We’re doing really well in training, and we’ll continue to work hard every day. At the end of these few weeks, the aim is to be prepared for the first game in the league, away to Toulouse. We all need to keep that in mind.

What’s your assessment of the team from those first three outings?
It was really good to be on the pitch and to feel like we were playing a game again. We’ve already had some good half-matches. In the last game against Fulham, the first half was top from the guys who played. We were just missing a goal despite having a lot of chances. Then, they scored, so just one moment can change the game. We’re working really hard for each other. Like I said, we all need to be obsessed with one thing: being ready on 7th August.

Last season was sometimes terrible but sometimes beautiful. What was it like for you on an emotional level?
The same as it was for everyone, be it on the pitch or in the stands. It isn’t enough to play well in the first half of the season and then have ups and downs. Before the winter break, we got better, and after the winter break, we became really strong. We went up in the table, and we were second, but after that, we just gave it away. That’s still really hard to understand. If you look at the last three weeks of the season, we missed the boat. It was a good season, but we were missing a few things: the win in the Coupe de France final, first of all, and also wins in the league. We need to both forget about and learn from those moments.


What do you have to change to do better?
That’s a difficult question. After the PSG game, when we won 1-0 in Nice, we were already maybe thinking, “OK, we’re already there,” and after that, we kept losing and giving points away. So, I think that the biggest thing for us is that we keep our focus throughout the season. We need to learn, and that was a learning moment. So, we’ll learn from it, and we’ll do better this season.

On the flipside, what should you keep?
Our enjoyment and our team spirit. That’s sometimes what made the difference. In fact, the final game of the season, away to Reims, is the perfect example of that team spirit. We were 2-0 down at half time, and despite that, we came back from it. It wasn’t our best game individually or collectively, but we still fought for each other, and we still gave everything. That’s really a strength for us. We’re a really good team at just giving everything for each other, so that’s a really good point to keep going on.

With the start of the Ligue 1 season, the European play-offs and the derbies, is there a kind of pressure going into August?
No. We fought for the whole of last season to get into Europe, and now, we have the chance to do so, so we can’t complain! I think we’re all really excited to play these games, but like I said, let’s not get carried away. We’re still in pre-season, and we have time to have a good start in August. Let’s just focus on the task at hand.

“I’M REALLY HAPPY to be here”

On a personal level, you’ve been here for nearly a year. How do you feel here?
From the first moment I arrived, I felt good about being with the players, the staff and everyone at the club. We have a very good relationship with each other. Straight away, the fans supported me and showed me their affection. That’s a good feeling, and I immediately felt like I was part of the family. I’m just happy to be here and excited about the challenges ahead of us. This will be my second year here, and we have high aims, which is motivating.

Your role as a senior player seems to come naturally to you…
I don’t know if I’m the most important player off the pitch, but I’m just myself. I get on well with everyone, and I think that we can only give our best if everyone feels comfortable. When you’re comfortable with yourself, you can see it on the pitch. In the dressing room, we can all talk to each other, so there are no groups. If you’re at the table, it’s the same thing; you can sit with anyone and have a good time. When I arrived here, I didn’t speak French, but I spoke with the French guys, the English-speaking guys and the Spanish-speaking guys. It all comes naturally.

The strength and fight that you show on the pitch is almost the complete opposite of who you are in your everyday life: smiley, nice, respectful. How do you explain that?
Off the pitch, I’m really easy. I like to have a laugh with everyone, but when I’m on the pitch, I’m there to win. It’s just in my mentality. I also know that if I don’t give 100%, I’m not that good. I have to give 100%, so I don’t cheat. In fact, we should all give 100% if we want to do well…


J.-M. P / C.D.