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“A new structure needs a stable base”

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“A new structure needs a stable base”

Sporting director Roland Virkus speaks in interview about the most recent home win against VfL Wolfsburg, the upcoming game against Eintracht Frankfurt and squad news for the Foals.

After five games without a win, the team was able to celebrate three points again with the 2-0 win against VfL Wolfsburg. What are your thoughts on the victory?

Roland Virkus: First of all, it was a very important win for us in this situation against a good opponent. This time, the luck fell our way where it hasn’t done previously. You could sense at the beginning that the team were a little shaky and we were fortunate that Wolfsburg’s opening goal was offside. We were trying to be too clever without being precise and tidy enough. We needed a positive moment in order to gradually get back on track and to build self-confidence piece by piece.

You are talking about Nathan Ngoumou’s opening goal…

Virkus: Exactly. That came in a period where it didn’t necessarily look likely to happen. The team counterpressed really well and the ball then came to Nathan and, without considering it too much, he smashed it into the far corner with his supposed weaker foot. After that goal, the performance wasn’t exactly perfect, but it was better and more stable. Jonas Omlin made a good reaction save just before half time, and we used the momentum to drag the game in our favour little by little. Collectively as a team, we improved and fought back. Every single player bought into that and improved. After the goal to make it 2-0, you noticed that a load was taken off of the boys and that they were enjoying their football again.

What do you now expect from the upcoming away game in Frankfurt?

Virkus: That the team pick up exactly where they left off against Wolfsburg. It will definitely be a difficult game. Eintracht have fallen out of the European places and will try everything to correct that quickly. They will try to put us under pressure. We will have to work together again to take any points away with us from Frankfurt. They are still seven attractive games to play; away in Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Leverkusen and Dortmund, as well as three home games at a sold-out BORUSSIA-PARK – that is motivation enough. We are looking forward to every single match!

Behind the scenes, you have been working on the squad for the new season for a long time. In the past few days, the first few decisions have been made. Let’s start with Marcus Thuram and Ramy Bensebaini…

Virkus: We were in open discussions with both players and knew the situation. It is a shame that they won’t be extending their current contracts, which expire in the summer, because both of them have given us a lot from a sporting perspective over the past four years. We also understand that our fans are disappointed that both of them aren’t staying. In the past years, it has always been part of our approach to pick up talented players, develop them further, and at a certain point in time also allow them to leave, because we can’t keep them forever. In an ideal world, we would have picked up an attractive transfer fee. It is obviously not good that it isn’t the case this time. However, both of them are players that can make the difference in games. Both have helped us immensely on the pitch in the past few years and are still doing that now, so despite all our justified disappointment, they have still earned a worthy send-off.

Yesterday, Lars Stindl announced to the squad that he will not be extending his contract and will leave Borussia after eight years.

Virkus: We were also in an open and fair discussion with Lars. He explained his personal decision in terms of the responsibility he has to his family. Ultimately, that says a great deal about Lars Stindl as a person. He has helped shaped the club over eight years, was the face of Borussia, a goal-threat, a hard-worker for the team and a brilliant captain. He is now 34 years old though, and your priorities change. He is going back home and you have to respect that.

On the other hand, two other long-serving Borussia players, Tony Jantschke and Tobias Sippel, have extended their contracts in recent days.

Virkus: They are two players that, although they don’t normally make headlines, are very important in this period of rebuilding. We are bringing a new structure to the team, which needs a stable base. Tony and Tobi are good characters who are well-respected in the dressing room. They know exactly what their roles in the squad are, and they are there when they are needed. We went into the season with the burden of twelve contracts expiring at the end of the campaign and have now dealt with a range of previously unanswered questions. Slowly but surely, the Borussia team for the 2023/24 season will start to take shape, whether through contract extensions, departures, signings or loans. The open contract situation with Tobias Sippel and Tony Jantschke were two of the building blocks in this process.

Marvin Friedrich made his unhappiness about his status as a back-up option known in an interview during the week. How will the club deal with that?

Virkus: Things like this should really have been addressed internally. That’s what we are going to do as a club, and we will clarify the issue with the player internally.

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