“A process that takes time”
Sporting director Roland Virkus speaks in interview about the Foals’ current sporting situation, Borussia’s transfer policy and planning for the future.
Roland, how do you assess the 0-0 draw with FC Schalke looking back now?
Roland Virkus: We can’t beat around the bush; in terms of the result in the Schalke game, but especially in terms of the performance on the pitch, we had imagined something completely different. It’s like Daniel Farke said after the game: With our away win in Hoffenheim behind us, we have to play better from the start – more dominantly, more goal-focussed. And then after the team really dragged the game in the right direction in the first half, there was an incomprehensible break in our play in the second half. At the end of the day, we had to be happy to have even got a point.
Also thanks to Jonas Omlin?
Virkus: Yes, of course. He made some saves to make sure that we would at least keep a clean sheet and get a point. Jonas has needed almost no settling in time since joining – he has only been here for two and a half weeks! Bearing this in mind, his performances in goal and his confidence and presence are really noteworthy.
The change in goal was the largest change to Borussia’s squad in the previous transfer window. Also, Rocco Reitz was loaned to VV St. Truiden and Torben Müsel moved to Rot-Weiss Essen. Why were there no further transfers at Borussia?
Virkus: I’ve said it before that for me there are really three reasons for transfers in the winter break: First, when there is danger that the team is going to miss their goals for the season. Second, if there are too many injuries in key positions. And thirdly, if there is a possibility to pre-empt a transfer for the following summer. Because none of these criteria were met we decided against buying or loaning any further players.
Let’s talk about these three points: Goals for the season…
Virkus: Before the season started, we hoped that we could have a season where we would be able to stabilise again following two fairly unsettled years. In which calm could return to the club again. All of this, but also obviously with the ambition to achieve the best results possible. Obviously, we are not pleased if we lose 1-0 in Augsburg or play out a 0-0 draw against Schalke. Between these two there was a really convincing away win in Hoffenheim. But these are the kind of results you get in a season like this where it is hard to predict the league. We are working to bring consistency to our performances on the pitch. Unfortunately, a process like this doesn’t happen at the press of a button, it needs time. We will be helped in this by players returning from injury, who should bit by bit being getting back to where we were.
…which brings us onto the second point.
Virkus: Exactly. Ko Itakura is the best example of this. We really missed him in the first half of the season. He is fit again now and is putting in constantly strong performances in defence. Hannes Wolf has also been able to show after his time out that he can be an energising force in the way we play. And I am also convinced that Florian Neuhaus‘ time will soon come again after his bad injury.
Were there any other offers, then, to sell or buy players?
Virkus: If we look at the contracts of Ramy Bensebaini and Marcus Thuram which are running out in the summer, we didn’t have any offers on the table for either player. As a result, we are pleased that both of them will be with us for the second half of the season and hopefully will be able to help us to achieve our aims with their footballing class. And in terms of possible new signings, it is our job to constantly monitor at the market, but there is no point just doing things for the sake of it. A new player has to make us significantly better. A transfer now in the winter would also mean that in summer, when very probably changes will also take place, that we would have less financial means available. We have a lot of trust in our squad, which – as I have already mentioned – is also broader than in the first half of the season with players returning from bad injuries.
Planning for the future keeps on going though, what’s new to say there?
Virkus: There is not only the question of looking for possible new players, but also maintaining the structure of the squad through contract extensions. This is also a process that takes time. After we were able to extend with Jonas Hofmann and Alassane Plea in the first half of the season and sign Simon Walde to his first professional contract at the beginning of the year, we are now really pleased about Jan Olschowsky also extending. We showed him a way in which he can further develop with us, and we are pleased that he can identify with that. That we are also currently in talks with Lars Stindl is absolutely no secret. Lars has the time currently to think about his sporting future; after that, we will hopefully be able to find an agreement.