Piethagoram in conversation with Ricardo Moniz… (Copyright of Piethagoram)
Martin Johnson, a former cricket correspondent at The Independent once wrote about Ray Illingworth ..”from the non bull-**** school of plain speaking” which in many ways reflects on how Ricardo Moniz talks about the beautiful game….that is football and not cricket! Continually, the phrase “Remember, I’m from the streets” resonates still from his press conferences at Notts.
Ricardo looks fondly back to his time at Notts as “Special, very special, undeniably proud to work for a club associated with the great Jimmy Sirrel”..but then referencing that his time at Notts was “all too short”. Good words also exchanged about Alan Smith (“a player that shared and understood his passion”), Aileen Trew, Ian Roberts, Matt Alexander, Kate and Tony (Cuthbert).
What is really evident from our discussions is the importance of the “Buy In” of the Dutch footballing philosophy… Not only for the manager / head coach but for all the key personnel at the Club, be it the players through to the technical staff and the Boardroom. Success needs everyone to be aligned and pulling together!
Ricardo’s Coaching / Managerial CV reads like an A-Z of European football, in terms of countries covered:
1994–1997 VV Nuenen
1997–1998 UAE (assistant)
1998–1999 Feyenoord Rotterdam (assistant)
1999–2004 Grasshoppers Zürich (technical coach)
2004–2005 Jong PSV
2005–2008 Tottenham Hotspur (skills coach)
2008–2010 Hamburger SV (Technical coach)
2010 Hamburger SV (Caretaker)
2010–2011 Red Bull Salzburg (Head of all Academies: Red Bull Salzburg: Leipzig, New York, Brasil and Ghana)
2011–2012 Red Bull Salzburg Austria
2012–2013 Ferencváros Hungary
2014 Lechia Gdańsk Poland
2014 1860 Munich Germany
2015 Notts County
2016–2017 FC Eindhoven
2017–2018 Randers Denmark
2018 AS Trenčín
2019–2020 Excelsior, Netherlands
Sourced: Wikipedia, as amended re Red Bull Salzburg
Prior to Notts:
Ricardo relayed “I had a difficult time after a really successful time at Salzburg” “I went to Ferencvaros Hungary, (whose fans are renowned as being difficult to please), 20,000 or so of them, but I won them over, becoming very popular” Unfortunately at his time there, a player had a heart attack with a leg amputation too. He questioned the medical staff “It was the beginning of the end”
A good spell in Poland followed, then personal circumstances took him to 1860 Munich. A clash with the Technical Director, is how Ricardo sees it. The Technical Director signing players from his own contacts “It was a difficult time, stress, a lot of stress”. A preseason match against Kaiserslautern , again led to a clash with the Technical Director. By the 7th game of the season Ricardo was gone. As an anecdote, Sky were filming a documentary series of behind the scenes of the football club. Ricardo followed up to say after the documentary was aired “people said, <Ricardo> was the right guy …to run this club”
I asked Ricardo about comparing Notts to standards of football elsewhere where he has coached. It may have been too subjective a question but he reiterated the standard of football in Hungary Poland even Denmark and Slovakia can be perceived at a high level
Beginnings at Notts:
Ricardo attended a match alongside his agent and was sat in an Executive Box. Matt Alexander introduced Ricardo to the Trews and Ian Roberts, and then went on the explain his philosophy and also with reference to the Cruyff philosophy too. Ray, a man of few words, said “Just keep us up”. Ricardo, admits because of some issues needing resolving, he was maybe just too late to save the club from relegation.
Jamal Campbell Rice was injured in his first game and Ricardo had already identified him as a key player. His parent club (Sheffield Utd?) had indicated that he could not play again that season though Ricardo believed that his injury could be overcome to play the final two games. There were other issues too, with some loanees seemingly being not motivated.
Ricardo remembers fondly the positive atmosphere generated at home games, the 2-1 home win against Doncaster (Tyson with a penalty winner) and even the loss to a good Preston side but inevitably, it was the Gillingham game that proved to be pivotal for the wrong reasons.
The game is still very fresh in Ricardo’s memory, on course for a victory until 3 minutes from time. Ricardo still agreed with my assessment of what went wrong from Noble not tracking and blocking the space for that crucial chipped ball into the box, the memory rolls out as a slow-motion replay. Dumbuya not gaining any height with his jump and perhaps Roy Carroll could have had time to come to the edge of the area to claim the ball. In the end, it was a “Sliding Door” movie moment but with the trap door dropping us into League 2
Summer of 2015
Ricardo returned to The Netherlands leaving particular indications to offer Gary Jones and Garry Thompson contract extensions as their experience would be needed. He was apparently overruled and both players departed Notts. Specific instructions were left in terms of a central defender to be sourced who would be quick, strong, good on the ball to fit into the style Ricardo wanted to play.
Ricardo also pursued Dutch and ex Bournemouth striker Frank Demouge, but without success to get a deal done.
Ricardo was brutally honest about his own (few…emphasis here on the word <few>)signings… Sprockel “My mistake”, Aborah “Was good for me” Jenner “Not a player for the English game” Amevor “solid” but then one realised that Ray had delegated to others authority to sign players for the rest of the squad. He had asked Ray to be patient and wait for his return from The Netherlands before signing players because Ricardo wanted to ensure “ we signed the <right> players” As a footnote, I had always assumed Genaro Snijders was a Moniz signing but apparently he was not.
Fond memories by Ricardo of the unexpected win at Huddersfield. It was a “positive performance” The next round at Aston Villa, …referee and that penalty “ a terrible decision”… Burke’s goal, then Jon Stead having a fantastic shot. “it should have been game over”… but special mentions for the likes of Jack Grealish (“a class above”) that evening and receiving personal praise from the Villa boss Tim Sherwood. The match also the emergence of the talent of Adama Traore, signed by Aston Villa from Barcelona (now at Wolverhampton).
A promising start away at Stevenage, particularly referencing the strength of the away following in the stands. Thompson and Amevor with the goals
Third game of the League season, was a Tuesday night at Oxford United and reality of defensive frailties dawned. A particular defender he had wanted was perhaps not up to the role Ricardo had in mind. Kemar Roofe demonstrated his undoubted quality that evening and left Notts with a 4-1 away defeat.
The next match was Accrington at home, Ricardo said “We created so many chances…” but an eventual Glasgow Rangers bound Crooks netted an equaliser in the 90th minute
The following match was Morecombe away. A relatively comfortable first half performance turned into a nightmarish 2nd half into an unexpected 4-1 away defeat.
Luton at home followed with Noble getting the winner deep into injury time.
Wimbledon away saw “Akinfenwa” engraved in Ricardo’s memory, “The big guy just walked through Swerts and Amevor to score”
Sunday 11th October Sky TV home to Plymouth … Ricardo still has a DVD of this game and rewatched it very recently. “Notts had about 83% possession, yes 83%!!!!, …a Gil Swerts individual error had let Reuben Reid in for one of his two goals”. “Ian Holloway had waxed lyrical after the match about Notts’ performance”.
Barnet 4-2 and Newport 4-3 victories remembered well by Ricardo for the football played. “we played good football, but away from home we were inconsistent”
FA Cup and where it started to go wrong
Salford “The whole country seemed to be backing them”.. Campbell missed a good chance….game was a turning point”…hinting pressure was being felt from “upstairs”. Ricardo had his own thoughts on the summer recruitment that had put him into this position. It would also appear the working relationship with Messrs Winter and "Brano" had become very strained.
His exit after drawing 1-1 at home with Morecombe still rankles with him “It wasn’t even a defeat, it was a draw!”
Stanley Aborah, an enigma? Discuss
“You see players like Gerrard, Lampard, no matter what they will always succeed” “Stanley is very sensitive to the coach and the footballing philosophy”
“I offered him a 2 year contract at FC Eindhoven but he chose to go to Portsmouth”
Ricardo indicated that his best position was taking the ball off the defence but if he played too higher up the pitch, he would “look lost”
The last time Ricardo spoke to Stanley was a year ago on the phone.
Highlights the victory over Feyenoord in the UEFA cup Euro 2 million budget v Feyenoord's Eur 70m “I try and create a team that no one expects to achieve” The club then subsequently sold the best players
Referees tended to ensure he spent more time in the stands than beside the pitch.
Footballing lessons / philosophy / Future
Ricardo” You need people to support the philosophy and to be brave…you need to create up front and be tight in defence” “I always try to <create value>”… Players to on sell at a higher price
80% on your plan, your philosophy but adjusting to the abilities of the players you have available
10% Focusing on your opponent’s game
10% on rectifying the mistakes of the previous game