ADELAIDE United have had two kinds of Spaniards.
The first, Josep Gombau. Combustible Latin template, the manager screaming down sidelines and elaborately sliding in celebration. The other, Guillermo Amor. Softly-spoken, calm, calculating, the coach taking United from winless after eight rounds to hosting an A-League semi-final.
Gombau shot from the hip; spoke so fast he’d get spittle on his lips.
Amor is measured, no fuss; speaks minimum English, but you suspect understands much more.
The Barcelona great – the most decorated player to coach an A-League club – has taken Adelaide to the promised land: a home semi-final against Melbourne City on Friday night.
But the Spaniard with 451 La Liga games and 37 national caps isn’t outwardly excited. It’s not his persona.
Asked at Thursday’s media conference about potential nerves before the big match, Amor appeared startled by the concept. “Any nerves? This is football. This is soccer. It’s a game. It’s for joy.” The Barcelona principle.
But. There’s a Barcelona but.
“If you come here to play the game, it’s for the joy – but to win,” Amor said.
“Enjoy your sport. But to win. This is the mentality.” Amor was called to Adelaide by Gombau in late August 2014.
The Barcelona mates, who coached together in the feted club’s youth ranks, re-united in Adelaide with Amor initially as a consultant, then a one-year deal as technical director.
In June last year, Gombau suddenly quit. The club line is for family reasons, others believe he walked when not allowed to splash some cash on players.
Amor, 48, took over a couple of months before the season and endured that horrid start: eight winless games.
Then came a fairytale: a 14 game unbeaten stretch, en route to snatching the Premiers’ Plate.
The plate holds much meaning for Amor, raised in the football world where league champions are just that: champions. No finals. But now he’s in Australia, with sudden-death finals, he’s getting used to the idea of playing for two prizes – the plate and the championship trophy.
“In Europe, you finish and you finish. You win, you win,” he said.
“But here, you can win two – not one. Here is possible, two … but this is unsure, not done.”
© 2016 Fox Sports | This article first appeared on Fox Sports on 21 April 2016.