Luis Muñoz is back, and “100%”. An untimely and serious injury kept him sidelined for many months last season, and yet he forced himself down the stretch and played for help Málaga CF avoid a relegation that would have been catastrophic. But that bad drink is already past water and now the blue and white captain is fully recovered and with the desire to be one of the leaders of this team. The blue and white midfielder attends La Opinion with renewed hopes and with the conviction that a template has been configured to be able to have a very good year. The ascent? “We’re going to fight for him.”
First of all, how are you after that tough cruciate ligament injury?
I’m handling the injury very well. I’m doing load adaptations. Now I do two hours in the morning, an hour and a half in the afternoon. Getting used to loads, that’s the main thing. Picking up the pace of training and matches.
Has it been difficult for you to get into the rhythm of the preseason?
More than adapting, it was controlling the loads. It came from seven months without competing. I couldn’t do a preseason from the first day like my teammates. I’ve been at 100% for two weeks now. The rhythm is very good.
The coach is screwing them…
We all know that Pablo Guede is a person who has a lot of character. He likes to train well, that everyone is involved. That people are 100%. This League is very competitive, one of the most important things is to be well prepared. For what the team needs and the coach asks for, we are going to have to have a good preparation.
When you get into the field, is everything forgotten? The support, the contacts…
The knee thing is forgotten. Against Cádiz I had very good feelings. Against Vélez too. The pace is good and I feel very safe in the knee.
There are many new faces this summer, how are you seeing them?
The most important thing this year is the group, that people are involved, that we all go together. It’s what the coach wants. That’s how it is being. They are people with a lot of ambition, they come to demonstrate, to help the team. That is something very important to meet the objectives that we set for ourselves this year.
You said that this year the important thing is the group, do you see much difference at the dressing room level compared to last season?
This year the group is very good from the first moment. People are contributing new things, that’s very good, that everyone adapts quickly. Last year the group was a bit more… younger, less experienced. There were difficult moments that they did not know how to carry it. But everything is already forgotten, now it’s time for something new. We have new challenges and we have to go for them.
Any new colleague that has surprised you or with whom you have connected well from day one?
I already knew them all from having faced them. We all know the potential that each player has, the important thing is that they give the best level so that this Malaga is better every day.
Give your best to go… for the promotion. Everyone talks about being on top. Do you see it the same?
This year we have made a team with a lot of ambition, but Second Division is very complicated. We have to go game by game, get 50 points as soon as possible and then go for the goal. We will fight for him. But the main thing is to reach 50 points as soon as possible, so you will be much closer to reaching the playoffs or direct promotion.
And there is still some retouching to come in these market weeks. What do you think this template needs?
The team is quite complete. That is already the decision of the coach and the sports management to see in which position we have the most shortcomings. I think the team is doing very well in general, in all positions. There is a lot of competition between us, a healthy competition. That will make us better every day.
Can it be an added pressure to speak from so soon about being on top?
I don’t think it should be pressure. Those who are better during the year do not always ascend. We have already seen things like Eibar last year. They came first or second all year… and in the end you stay out and Girona rises, which in the first round was not even in the playoffs. In football you never know. They have been ascending the sixth for several consecutive years. It was also difficult for Almería until the last game. Second, it’s very difficult, you risk a lot of things in the last games, that’s when it’s hardest.
They are working a lot on the system with three centrals. Now you will also try other schemes. How do you see the team? How do you feel more comfortable?
In the end, I think the coach works with different types of systems because each game requires a system to do more damage to the rival or for them to do less damage to you. So that at any moment, in a game or during a week, if we need to change the system, we can already have it working. We still have to improve it, but it is always good to have a plan A and a plan B. In this category you never know where any team can go.
He has shown throughout his career that he adapts to various positions. Where does Guede want him?
The coach has talked to me, he wants me in the position I’m playing, in the ‘8’ or ’10’ zone, depending on the system we play with. The important thing is to feel comfortable, to feel comfortable, that we all feel comfortable. When we use a system there will be some who will be more, others will come from the bench to give us that victory. Each one at the moment will have to assume his role. We are 18 chips, we are few and we have to be 100%. At any moment it can be your turn and you have to be at the best level for the team.
Going back to last season, did he force? Was he at 100% when he decided he had to help the team?
I forced myself because of the situation, because of how the team was, because of everything, because of the city, because of my contract, because of the people… The doctor told me that until I was nine months old it was not good for me to compete for the type of operation. It’s true that I forced, I’m not going to say no. The coach talked to me, he wanted to get me involved. I told him yes. If it was necessary, I was a Málaga player and I would try to be as good as possible.
With a Málaga in the middle of the table, would you have played?
No, surely he would not have played. I would have waited for the preseason to start at 100%.
What did you feel on that first ball you touched playing an official match again after so many months?
I got injured when I felt better, I didn’t expect it and it was a tough seven months. Working in the shade. In the end, when you have an injury of this type, you have many gym workouts, when the group has two days, you only have one, afternoons that you have to go to treatment, mornings that you finish training and have to go swimming. When you have a serious injury, the most important thing is not to throw in the towel, to get up every morning with a new illusion. I was lucky enough to play in Tenerife, we won and that was three very key points to reach salvation.
Any special person you remember from those complicated months?
Many people have been vital to me. My family was above me, the doctors, the physios… Toni Tapia has been with me morning and afternoon training, when people were on vacation, he was with me. Some physios too. I am very grateful to the entire coaching staff, the entire medical service and my teammates.
Finally, do you have any wishes for this season?
The wish… I keep it, to see if it can be fulfilled. When the goal is met at the end of the year, I will say so.