AGONA Interview: Carit Falch, the promising coach in Paralimni
Enosis Neon Paralimni manager, Carit Falch, spoke with AGONAsport’s Marios Antoniou to talk about the challenges he faces in his role as head coach.
Being a coach in Cyprus isn’t an easy job. Every club’s coaching chair is an electric one, with no manager secure in his job. The pressure for immediate results as well as the lack of patience are a standard that is unrivaled by any other league or culture, so when talking to Danish coach Carit Falch who came to Cyprus to manage Enosis Neon Paralimniou, it was guaranteed to be an interesting conversation. 42-year-old Falch is still early in his young career, but we can definitely say that he is a promising coach with energy, a strong will to work and tactical intelligence.
After initially coaching in the second and third tiers of Danish football, Falch managed Lithuania U21 between March 2017 and November 2018. Falch also served as head analyzer of Danish champions FCN and was a special coach with the Danish FA. In late November 2018, he joined Paralimni just before matchday 11, a team which was struggling badly. The target was clear - relegation must be avoided at all costs. Three months down the line, Paralimni are still far from guaranteeing their top flight status, but he’s improved the overall performance level while eliminating Anorthosis in the Cypriot Cup to make the quarter-finals.
We talked to Carit Falch to see how he sees his time with Paralimni so far, what he thinks about Cyprus, and his personal goals for the team and his future.
AGONAsport: What are some of the challenges when you take over a club in the middle of the season?
Carit Falch: It was a very tough, fast start. I arrived four days before the game against AEK Larnaca, so I had to immediately understand my new players and the atmosphere at the club. That was the most important thing, and I wanted to implement some new ideas while respecting the ones which were already there. Of course, I wanted to insert my concept, however I knew that I couldn’t do too much straight away. My experience with the Lithuanian U21 side was very helpful as I only had a few days to prepare the team before international games. The biggest challenge was to gain understanding of the situation. Before I travelled to Cyprus, I watched seven games of the team to learn as much as possible about my players and the club’s playing style.
AGONAsport: Your first win came against AEK Larnaca, who had just come off a win over FC Zurich in European play. Can you describe how that felt and how important it was for the team?
Carit Falch: I felt like I had fallen from a helicopter. I had barely slept for three nights, it was a really important time for me. The players implemented everything that we wanted and we managed to achieve a big win against one of the best Cypriot teams. This was definitely a big moment which I will always remember in my career. I was proud and impressed by how much the players understood my ideas on the pitch. I respect hard working players with good personality, and my players rose up to the task. We changed a lot in such a short time and I was told it’s something that they will remember in the club for years to come. They can see that the team has changed. I also gave an opportunity to a young player called Antonis Koumis. He came in as a substitute in the 70th minute, and he was the one who sealed the win with our second goal of the night.
AGONAsport: Enosis have been allowing a lot fewer goals since you’ve taken over. What’s been the biggest reason for that success?
Carit Falch: One of the first things which I saw was that we could change our defending both with and without the ball. I like the line that says you win games with your attack, but that defence wins championships. We conceded about half the goals that we had before. We try to build our gameplay from the back and the target is even if we lose the ball, we will not be vulnerable on the counter attack. I am looking to build a structured, attacking gameplay with hard working players which can hold the ball and attack. I am a fan of structured creativity, I want all my players to use their individual skills as a part of the whole team plan.
AGONAsport: As we understand, this is your first job in Cyprus. How have you found the level of play so far, and what are your impressions of Cyprus as a country?
Carit Falch: Cyprus is a very beautiful country and I definitely love the weather here, it’s not as cold as Denmark and Lithuania where I worked before. People here are very helpful and welcoming. The level of play is really good, there is a high level of competition and that means that any team can beat another. The top teams have high european level, they did well in Europe this year (AEK Larnakas and Apollon participated in the Europa League Group stage). Moreover it is important that we see high quality players to make the choice and come to play here, that means a lot.
AGONAsport: Before you took over, Enosis had not won a single match outside of Paralimni this season. Now your side have registered two away wins and two draws. How do you prepare differently for away matches compared to when playing at home?
Carit Falch: Honestly, we prepare the same way both for home and away games. I have confidence and belief in what we do and it doesn't really matter if we play at home or on the road. We always study our opponents, analysing their players, their coach and his tactics. We do individual analysis for important players, as well as how they play as a team and we find the weak spots which we can take advantage of. We always try to stay true to our concept, no matter the opponent. Nevertheless, we understand and we adapt to the individual needs of each game.
AGONAsport: We’ve noticed that there’s been more energy for your team’s home matches at the Tasos Markou Municipal Stadium than there’s been in years. How much of a lift does that give the whole team?
Carit Falch: It is an immense pleasure to see the fans getting so close to their team. It’s an extra motivation and I am really happy that the fans are there for the team in the good and the bad moments. Even after defeats, we receive applause from them, and that means a lot to us. I can say that we have one of the best fan groups in Cyprus and they are there when the players need them. I strongly believe that their support is strong because they see the team playing with their heart and with love for the emblem that they have on their shirts. That is what the fans want, to see the real game and that I believe is what brings them so close to us.
AGONAsport: How’s life in Paralimni, and what’s the relationship between yourself and the fans? How does a multinational squad of about 14 different nationalities feel representing the community of Paralimni?
Carit Falch: Living in Paralimni is nice, the people here are friendly. They are really open to us and they show their support wherever we go. The players and the staff also live close to each other, in turn creating a family feeling which is really important for the team. We all work together despite coming from different backgrounds. My assistant coach, Fabio Mazzone, is Italian, a very competent assistant coach who does a lot of analysis. I met him at a seminar and we immediately clicked. Another fact that helps in this case is that Paralimni is a touristic area and the locals are familiar with many different nationalities due to the volume of tourists that visit. When we were in negotiations with the club, I felt an open-minded mentality which characterizes me. What matters is not where you are from, but how hard you work for the team.
AGONAsport: Qualifying for the Cypriot Cup quarter-finals was a big success for the team, especially as it was achieved with a victory over a big club like Anorthosis. How did you feel about it and what are your expectations for the upcoming clashes against Pafos FC?
Carit Falch: Pride. That was the biggest thing which I felt. We scored three away goals in the first game (3:2 win for Paralimni). We had some great individual performances and a good plan that was executed greatly by the players. In the second leg at home, it was a very different game, but we managed to control it. Anorthosis definitely did not underestimate us, but our players gave their best and managed to edge a stronger opponent. In regards to Pafos FC, they have a team which should be higher up in the standings (Pafos had a six point penalty deduction) and they boast a larger budget than the other relegation fighters. They are a physically strong team, and they proved that by achieving good results against almost all the big teams. We need to play a clever, fast game in order to surprise them, like we did with Anorthosis. It’s important for our players to showcase their individual qualities and help the team move forward.
AGONAsport: How closely do you watch the club’s academies, which produced great players such as Michalis Konstantinou and most recently Grigoris Kastanos who is currently playing with Juventus? Do you have any plans for the future of the academies?
Carit Falch: The academy has great traditions, that’s for sure. I watch the younger teams whenever the chance arises. We have some great coaches in our youth teams and we work closely with them trying to implement our ideas at all the levels of the club. For the future, I look forward to optimize the academies system by producing players who will play in the first team. We are the team that used the most Cypriot players in the league and that’s important. Just today, (the day of the interview), we used eight Cypriot players from the academies in our 4:0 friendly win against Armenian side Ararat. We want to develop the first team, while also developing the levels of the club to have the same values and concept.
AGONAsport: Finally, what are your targets with Paralimni, and what is your vision for the future of the team and also for your career?
Carit Falch: My main goal is clear. I want Paralimni to perform really well in the remaining games of the regular season and then in the relegation playoff group. We must avoid relegation by achieving the required results. In the Cypriot Cup, we want to go all the way and win it. I truly believe that we can do it (By the time the article was published Paralimni eliminated Pafos FC and moved to the semifinals of the competition). During the January transfer period, we added some depth to the squad such as Minas Antoniou (on loan from APOEL), Sokratis Fytanidis, Dominic Glavina and Shoval Gozlan. I took over the team in mid season, so we had to work on our concept. Now, I am shaping the team with my style and players. Hopefully everything goes well and during the summer we will keep the core of the team and build around it. We hope to get the chance to build a new team that can surprise the other clubs next year, that will form our target after we secure our First Division status. You must create the right mentality with the right players to do so, it takes time, but that is the key for success. My own personal ambition is to be the coach of a winning team which will play in Europe, I really want to do that with Paralimni and I believe that we have a good plan which can be achieved with hard work.
Special thanks to Andreas Mantzas, Sarantos Kaperonis and Shaun Nicolaides for the help preparing and editing the interview. Of course I must thank coach Carit Felch for the wonderful conversation that we had, he showed me that he really understands where he is and that he respects Cyprus and the local game. I would like to wish him all the best with Paralimni, he is for sure a coach with great potential and hopefully we will meet up there in the summer for a follow up of this interview.