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ROEL VAEYENS: “OUR PHILOSOPHY IS TO GROW THE SQUAD AND THE CLUB”

Collecchio, 13 September 2023 - The words of Managing Director of Sport, Roel Vaeyens, during an interview with journalists in the press room of the Mutti Training Center in Collecchio.


THE WORK OF OUR TEAM: ALWAYS GIVE OUR MOST


What I thought before arriving has been confirmed. I watched many games, not just Parma, but with many clubs; it is a very difficult league, each game is closed and evenly balanced and there isn’t much difference in the results of the teams at the top of the table and at the bottom. Some of the clubs considered favourites for promotion to Serie A have had a difficult start, and in Serie B it isn’t possible for anyone to have an easy season, or to get the results that they set out to achieve. What interests me is Parma Calcio, not the other squads: it’ll be important for us to be completely focused on each game. Otherwise, we risk to lose. First of all, Fabio Pecchia has stated that he is happy with the work done in the transfer window. It was a team effort and not the work of a single person: not me, not Pecchia and not Pederzol, but also of the scouting team. It started with analysis, which I took part in alongside the technical staff, and we picked out positions where we needed reinforcements, after which, we spoke with the scouting team. The technical staff were involved at every stage of the process, and every player that has arrived was approved by them. I am very happy with everyone’s work, from the scouting phase to the negotiations, and the Coach is happy with the new arrivals. Until now we have done everything that we decided to do in June, a week after the end of last season that ended with the disappointment against Cagliari. A manager always asks for more, especially if his goal is promotion, and it isn’t a problem. We spoke about it internally, so there are no problems. Two things to consider. The first: each player at our club must always see if there are opportunities out there. The second, however, is that I am happy with our roster, it is great and has everything we need to reach the goals that we have set; that being said, there are no guarantees, the season is still a very long one'.


FABIO PECCHIA


“It wasn’t a diplomatic response, I am an open and transparent person. At the end of the day, it is true that someone must make a decision, as with all associations, or at the centre of the government. My intention is to take everything into account before making a decision, then maybe the scouting team suggests players, and then it is discussed with the medical team and technical staff. These conversations happen weekly, we identify a position, we identify those who could fill that position. Thus, all together, including Mauro (Pederzoli) and the Coach, we speak and we assess. Then it is also true that the Coach also makes requests because it is part of his job to always ask for more. But whatever decision is made is the result of internal discussions, also during the transfer window. I played an active role, staying in contact with the scouting department, the technical staff, Mauro and, of course, the president. The intention is to come to a consensus, then obviously the agreement is unanimous on all the decisions we make. Today we are happy with the decisions we have made because this consensus has been there. As I said before, the week following the game against Cagliari, we met with the Coach and Mauro and we evaluated the season gone, asking ourselves what we needed for the new season. Everyone’s intentions must be to improve on what has been done. In this meeting, everyone brought forward information and we then later had a meeting with the president, and there we laid out on the table everything we thought was necessary for this season. As I said before, guarantees don't exist in football. The only thing I guarantee is to work closely with the team, respecting the history and reality of Parma. With the objective to create a more sustainable company. It is clear that the squad is better than this time last year. We did it within the budget that we gave ourselves, without compromising on quality”.

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THE PHILOSOPHY OF WORK


“If you look at the roster from last season compared to this season, the average age has been lowered by a year. I asked the performance staff to analyse the market and I can show you a video that confirms what I’m saying. At this particular point in time, it wasn’t necessary to only purchase players between 20 and 22 years old because the youngsters will play more this year than last season. In my position as Managing Director of Sport, it’s something that I have to consider; we lost Gigi Buffon and Franco Vasquez, and so compared to last year we are missing some elements of experience. For this, we needed balance within the squad, and for this reason, it was necessary to target players who already have a bit more experience. The average age of the squad is lower, and the line-up will be younger on the pitch compared to last season. We have also invested in a talented young player like Begic, who showed his potential in Serie C and in his first games with Parma Calcio has already proved invaluable. I am used to purchasing interesting prospective players and making them grow, we aren’t Real Madrid or Manchester City. The philosophy of Parma Calcio hasn’t changed: the young players will have more opportunities to play. This is also true for our youth players like Anas, who has already debuted with the senior Tunisian National team. We work to grow young players talent, those who come from our youth system or from other teams”.


BEGIC, FOR EXAMPLE



“It is true that more players have joined from Italy this year, but Begic, for example, could also have played in Switzerland and would have anyway been an interesting player to us. Maybe it was easier, given that he played in Serie C, but we are basically looking for players with potential. We don’t only look for them in Italy, but in all countries where there are players we can afford. We don't need to look for young players in the Premier League; it could be the case that a player arrives because he isn’t getting any minutes, but there is no need to send scouts to the matches since it isn’t our market. We need to be open to any opportunities; Hernani is a Parma Calcio player, and for us to bring him back here represents his added value. Then, he showed a great desire to return, he knew there was a job to finish, and we very easily came to an agreement. Firstly, we look at the positions we need to strengthen, then we create a list of prospects, Italian and not-Italian, that interest us. For example, I am thinking of Partipilo and Colak, whose quality really convinced us”.


OUR ORGANISATION



“There are many similarities and differences. The things that I bring to a club don’t necessarily arrive from Belgium but from my experiences in general. I like passion, and here there is passion at every level and every situation, with the media, the fans, and within the Club. It is a positive thing, but something that needs to be managed because decisions cannot be made solely on passion. Everyone who works for Parma Calcio is passionate about this sport, but this is also a job. The fans expect us to play well and win games, and to do this for them we need passion but also a solid structure. As I said before, he who works here is capable and puts in a lot of work; my job is to organise the process to be the most efficient and well-structured possible. There, I can help, thanks to my range of skills, which are there to complement those of everyone else working here. I am used to working innovatively, in a way that complements what is already there. The main problem at the minute is that we are in Serie B, whilst everyone in the city wants to see us promoted to Serie A. It isn’t easy, however, because there are many good squads in Serie B, with great traditions and the same objective as us. The most difficult thing in football is to manage the short-term goals with the medium and long-term ones; my job is to give everything that is needed to each component of the organisation to win the next game, but also to make the changes that we need in the long term. If you only look at what’s in front of you, it’s impossible to improve in the long run. It is a challenge for me and for all of us: we all want to be in Serie A, but at the same time, we need to do so in a way that ensures the Club is ready for the challenges that face us there in the following seasons”. 

THE CLUB’S AMBITIONS



“I have many ambitions for Parma Calcio, both in the short and long term. I have always wanted to be part of a club and winning team and always aim higher, and it is what I intend to do here. The most obvious objective is the promotion to Serie A; we aren’t hiding that from anyone, but we also don’t want to be arrogant. To want to be in Serie A does not mean succeeding automatically. I have already said it, it is a difficult league, and we have a lot of respect for our opponents. Our objective is clear, and we will only reach it if each one of us gives our all. Each member of the Club, depending on their area of work, will have to do a little better compared to last season; the same goes for the organisation of Parma Calcio. Another objective is to improve the entire Club over the course of this season: with this I mean, working in a more efficient, team-like way, with more collaboration between the various departments. I'm not saying that this isn't already happening, but every small step towards this goal can make Parma Calcio a better and more efficient organisation. And then I would like to add that we want to reach Serie A with both our teams, both the men's and women's teams. I was born in 1978 and this year I will turn 45. Today you can watch entire football matches on TV seven days a week, there are too many even. In the 90s, however, there were almost only 2-3 minute highlights; there was Sportschau on Saturday evening with German football, on Sunday morning French football and on Sunday evening, Spanish and Italian football were broadcast on Dutch TV. At the time, many Dutch footballers played here. In the 90s Parma was a fantastic team, they played in the final of the 1993 European Cup Winner’s Cup. I remember watching that match on television; in Belgium, Parma garnered a lot of attention, also because Georges Grün played for them. I followed football with great interest and Parma was a club that was winning in Europe and full of great players. These memories have never left me. These things stayed with me. Although the experience at Bruges was very positive, when Parma called me, it was the call of a team that I remembered very well. The experience in Bruges was very positive from when I joined: at the beginning, things didn't go very well, particularly in the first three years. But, over the next seven years, with the work done with the squad, the team has won the league 5 times and qualified 6 times for the Champions League. Having achieved this success, I felt the need for change, and the need to seek new challenges. The call from Parma was the challenge I had been waiting for, combined with my childhood memories. It seemed like an excellent combination to put my ambitions into practice, both in the short and long term. But in the most realistic way possible. 4 months after my arrival, my impression is positive, I am very happy with the choice I made and I feel motivated to do my best.'

THE PLAYERS: FROM MAN AND MIHAILA TO SOHM AND BERNABE


“Man and Mihaila? I don’t want to speak about the history of these two players, but what I see myself, and that’s two footballers of great quality. Dennis Man started the season injured, and I'm sure that if that hadn't been the case, the Romanian National team would have started two Parma Calcio players yesterday. This means there are elements of quality, but with young players, this is often the case: they have potential and they show it, but maybe only for a few weeks, or maybe a few months. Now it’s up to them to find continuity in their performance, and in a way that their level is good even when they are not playing. I have trust in the fact that both players bring great value to Parma Calcio this year. Gabriel Charpentier was unlucky and showed his potential against Fiorentina, but then he got injured and had to stop. Last week he participated in training, he took a hit but he has done well, so we hope that he can start to train regularly over the next few weeks. He needs to grow with the squad, feel physically better and be able to play. He has qualities that could be very useful to us; I said it before when I was speaking about balance in the team: we have forwards with different skills and I am satisfied, his skills are different to those of Colak, for example. This gives us different solutions. Sohm and Bernabé? We received interest in these players, one of our first actions in the transfer window was to renew Bernabé’s contract which was an important move and not only for the fans. I gave some confirmation of the path taken, even in the last season. Let’s say: the objective to reach is Serie A, and we decided to retain the best players. And let’s note that the squad will be at an advantage with the present. The players themselves believed in the possibilities of staying at Parma, growing their own possibilities, not only on an individual level but also on a collective one”. 


THE STADIUM: A VALUE FOR THE FANS AND THE CLUB



“It isn’t to my credit what is happening with the stadium, but to Luca (Martines) and his team. We speak about it a lot and it is very clear that we need a new stadium, because at the minute we cannot offer our fans what we want to offer, which is what they deserve: whatever for families and children, or in terms of the services available. The derby with 26 degrees of heat was beautiful, but when it rains our fans are exposed. I know that a project like a new stadium is complicated because there are the same challenges in Belgium where many clubs want to build a new stadium. We are happy that the city of Parma is there to speak with us and support us. It would also help us to reach our sporting goals, it is a city of tradition and Parma’s ambition deserves a modern stadium. Great work was done before my arrival, and when I began my first job was to assess the situation, get to know people and ask their opinion; I also have my own, but I learn from the help of others”. 

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