… the training camp:
The training camps have changed a lot over the years. In the past, we would have done three training sessions a day, but that’s not the case anymore. We’ve adapted the training camp sessions to fit the rhythm of our game during the season, and you can see the results for yourselves. Players don’t need quite as much recovery time; they’re fresher and fitter in the sessions and don’t get injured as often. That’s reflected in the performances they put in in training.
When I was a younger coach, I didn’t trust myself to let the team train any less often than three times a day. If we lost games, it meant they weren’t doing enough in training – that was the way things were back then. Thanks to the influence of the fitness coaches and the medical department, that’s changed now.
Within our team, a lot of the players work on themselves individually for another hour and a half after the session ends. The more experienced and successful players set that example, and the younger lads take notice of it. There’s a lot of self-responsibility and professionalism in that.
… the club’s current situation:
We have a bit of calm and a lot of trust. In some lineups we’ve put out, the team isn’t completely green anymore; they have experience. The players have constantly improved themselves, which is something they know and take note of. We also have the ambition to show that on the pitch, of course, and put in good performances – but why would I need to talk to the players about our place in the league table? That doesn’t add anything; everybody knows how many points we have.
We and everyone around the club have been spoiled for success and happy experiences over the last two and a half years. We need to make sure that we don’t see that as anything other than normal, and we need to deal with our disappointments. Staying sensible is the most important thing – we can’t allow ourselves to start looking back, but that isn’t easy.
… the fight for places:
We’re going to have to take a look at how Lukas Kübler’s doing health-wise, but Kiliann Sildillia was able to train consistently for the entire duration of the camp, so there’s nothing we can say conclusively about the right-back position. In midfield, Yannik Keitel got injured in the very last drill of the final training session before we broke up for Christmas. He’s got a little way to go, of course, but it’s good that he’s back on the grass. Up top, Wooyeong Jeong is doing really well, and Lucas Höler is regaining the form he was in before his injury. He brought his power to the game against Basel and scored a beautiful goal. I’m also very happy with Kofi [Kyereh]. He has great footballing intelligence and makes life so difficult for central defenders. The most impressive thing is that the lads are exceptionally ambitious and are all desperate to make the team, but they also get on fantastically and push each other forward.
… the perception of the club from the outside:
I think some teams will choose to go all-out against us, because they don’t want to let us play our game, but others might be more cautious. There are also other opponents who don’t care about how we play; they just do their own thing. It was like that in the first part of the season. I don’t think teams will set up differently to how they normally would against us just because they think they have the key to success – we need to stay flexible and adaptable.
… the coming games:
Wolfsburg have taken points from the majority of their games and are a very decent team. We don’t have to introduce Frankfurt. We’re going into this first three-game week with no worries, but at the same time, we need to put in good performances. Even if we don’t, we’ll still have 30 points from 18 games – that doesn’t mean that motivation isn’t high, though. We’re in the Bundesliga, the Pokal and the Europa League, meaning there are lots of memories still to be made. If we keep ourselves stable and avoid injuries, we’ll want to keep ourselves at this level for a longer time.