Koné: “We have to function as a team”
Manu Koné speaks about Gladbach’s inconsistent form, his personal development and the upcoming game against SC Freiburg.
Manu, in the past three weeks the team lost against Hertha, beat Bayern and then, most recently, suffered defeat in Mainz. How would you explain the fluctuating performances over this time period?
Koné: I don’t think you can really compare the Bayern game to the others. We were playing at home at a sold-out stadium and Bayern had a red card early on. That played into our hands and our approach of having possession. The two away defeats were completely different. Despite the great support of our fans, it was details and individual mistakes that cost us and caused the defeats.
After the game in Mainz, head coach Daniel Farke said that the team struggled to deal with setbacks during games…
Koné: When you go behind, it’s hard to get back into the game and back to the original plan. The team winning the game plays with more confidence and the team losing might start to doubt themselves that little bit more. But if you look at the Mainz game, we still created one or two chances to get back into it – I had one in the first half and Marcus Thuram in the second. Unfortunately, Mainz were more clinical than us on the day. That’s something we just have to admit.
There are twelve Bundesliga games left this season. What is still possible?
Koné: We have a clear objective for the rest of the season: we want to win as many of these twelve games as possible. We’re not looking at the league table. It’s more about taking things game by game, minute by minute, and always giving the maximum.
You have often played alongside Julian Weigl this season, who is currently out injured. Does that change anything for you in your role on the pitch?
Koné: It doesn’t change anything for me. I’ve already played in defensive midfield here alongside Denis Zakaria, Florian Neuhaus, Christoph Kramer, László Bénes and Jule Weigl. I don’t have any preference. We have to function as a team, and the coach chooses the players who are available to him and who are best suited to the game or the opponent.
You have only missed three Bundesliga matches since matchday 6 of last season, all of which were due to yellow card suspensions. After your joining from FC Toulouse around a year and a half ago, did you think you would become a regular at Borussia so quickly?
Koné: I have always been very ambitious. In Toulouse, too, I initially had more experienced players ahead of me, but in the end I managed to break though. It was like that here too at first, but I tried to show what I was capable of, game by game. It’s great on a personal level that I’m playing so much, but the first priority is always helping the team.
How satisfied are you with your personal development and in which areas do you think you can still improve?
Koné: I’ve had some very good performances, but I still make mistakes. For example, I would like to reduce the amount of times I lose possession and I want to pick up fewer yellow cards because that can be affect the team, but it’s not always my fault when I get one, that has to be said (laughs). I also want to be more accurate in my finishing, then I can improve my goal output.
How good are your German skills? Can you communicate well?
Koné: I understand quite a lot now. Especially when the coach talks about football, I understand what he means. I still have a hard time speaking German myself, even though I’m having lessons. I think German is a really hard language that’s complicated to learn.
Back to football. On Saturday afternoon, you’ll take on SC Freiburg. What makes them so strong this season?
Koné: I’ve played against SC Freiburg three times. They’re a side who are compact and are very strong when it comes to running and tackling. Those are really good qualities that we have to deal with if we want to win.
What kind of game do you expect and what will be important for you to win?
Koné: The three points are the most important thing. How much we’re made to suffer, or whether we play well or not so well, doesn’t matter in the end. We can’t think about anything else except wanting to win this game. In front of our own fans in our own stadium, we have to win at all costs.