Q and A with Taipei Red Lions manager Félix Ramírez

Photo: Taipei City Red Lions

Last weekend the Taiwanese Premier League new season kicked off and we have managed to catch up with Taipei Lions manager Félix Ramírez.

Taipei Lions are the third expat team to play in the league along after Taipei City (the first one) and Royal Blues who were relegated (kicked out of the league for finishing bottom two) last time around.

Will this be your first season in charge of the team, or did you take over when Jacinto left the club to move to China?

It's my first season at Lions, I arrived in December and I started working hard to start rebuilding the club's future.

What are your predictions for the season ahead? Where do you think you can finish in the league?

I am just a football coach, I can not predict in which position we will end the tournament, but I do know that if we continue working as we do now we will have a lot to talk about.

How can the club build on a positive first season in the Taiwan Premier League?

The club has bet strongly to work in a professional manner, and for that I am here. Now we use all our resources to work just following that path.
We saw recently every club that wants to participate in the Taiwan Premier League needs to have an AFC license after this up-and-coming season, how will this affect Taipei Lions?

The Club's Sports Department is working hard to get this license, it's not something we do not think about every day.

How will you compete with Datong and Taipower who are the only two sides anything close to being professional sides? What will Taipei City Lions do to bridge the gap between pro and amateur?

The name "amateur" does not end up liking me, but we use it frequently to 
differentiate players who do not receive a salary for playing soccer, 
I prefer to call the professional who works in that way, 
and my players use every second of their time in train and prepare for each 
game despite not being your main job.

Do Taipei Lions have plans to attempt to turn full professional at some point in the future, as the Taiwan Premier League often mentions their intentions of becoming professional. If yes, are there any long term plans for the club in achieving this?

We already have many projects and our working methods for the future, but now what really matters is to work hard so that the basis of this project is very strong, first the short-term objectives that will sustain the club must be met.

Last season, Royal Blues finished in the bottom two of the Taiwan Premier League, which meant they had to enter qualifiers for the new season. They failed in their attempts to rejoin the league, which means they aren’t involved this time around. Do you have any back up plans for Taipei Lions if similar happened and they failed to rejoin the league again in the future?

It is too early to think about playing the classifieds, this group has a lot of room for improvement and we are working hard not to see each other at that moment.

As it is hard to keep the required level of the squad with foreigners coming and going from Taiwan often which we have seen already happen with Royal Blues demotion, what plans do Taipei Lions have to negate the reliance on foreign players?

50% of our squad are young Taiwanese, often players of that style keep knocking on our door because they see in us something that other clubs do not have, a work methodology and a different way of seeing and living football. Our way of working is very different from the other teams you tell me. We trust in all those who deserve our trust, whether they are foreigners or Taiwanese.

Who are Taipei Lions new signings this season?

I would say that 60% of the players are new, I did not know anyone when I started my job and I did not notice if they were new or belonged to the lions, finally those in the template are those who deserve it.

If Taipei Lions finish in a position to qualify for the AFC Cup how would you be able to compete, as the AFC rules stipulate only 3 foreign players are allowed onto the field together?

As I said before, these are future plans, as the season progresses and we see what our achievements are, that will be a concern or not.

What about the other teams competing in the league this season? How do you expect them to be? Do you expect the level has gone up or down?

For the matches that I have seen from my rivals and the analyse I did last year I can say that the level has risen considerably, the teams with economic potential have strengthened quite well, but we will see how they do.

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