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"OUR IDENTITY WILL ALWAYS BE THE NEED TO KEEP A CLEAN SHEET"

Still unbeaten, the Boys in Brown signed off into the winter break lying second in the table after the 1-1 draw against Wehen Wiesbaden. On Monday afternoon, director of sport Andreas Bornemann and head coach Fabian Hürzeler took time out to speak to the media.

Bornemann and Hürzeler on…

…the season so far:

Fabian Hürzeler: "We said in summer that we didn't want to let the development that set in during the second half of last season simply peter out, but rather take the positives with us. We did that, especially in summer, through hard work in training. We've strengthened the existing foundations and developed in terms of our football, and we put the fundamental prerequisites for a high-intensity style of play in place at training camp. Our football has come on significantly during the course of this season. We found better solutions for a host of challenges and tasks from game to game. The consistency in our performances only comes about when everyone pulls their weight. Huge compliments to the players, and that really does go for all of them. They've worked extremely hard in training and pushed each other hard. They're all motivated to become better players. I sensed that every day. We can draw a positive conclusion because we're unbeaten in a very strong and evenly balanced league. The key thing for us in our analysis and mid-season preparations will be that we've made too many simple mistakes that ultimately cost us a clean sheet. Defensive stability and keeping a clean sheet are always our foundation. It's made us strong and hopefully will make us strong again in the second half of the season. We have to work on the details there and cut out the small stuff. I'm looking forward to analysing and going over everything with my coaching team and staff. Huge compliments to the whole team for the fantastic support and expertise and the meticulous way they work on things down to the last detail. It really has been remarkable. The sense of togetherness is what makes us and the club so strong. We're looking forward to the new year, which will bring new challenges. No one can predict how the season will end. We'll try to get the maximum return and, if possible, draw fewer games."

Andreas Bornemann: "In summer we said we wanted to carry on where we left off after the good second half of last season. Fabian and the team have done that extraordinarily well. The development in just one year, and from summer until now, has been amazing as far as the consistency, stability and clarity of our football are concerned. We've also managed to bring the cohesion you need in this league to the pitch every week. After the strong second half last season, we realised that the expectations had changed. We, and by extension Fabian and the team, have to deal with that. When we swept to the top of the table with some high-intensity and very attractive football, we knew it was still early in the season and would do well to keep taking each game as it comes or in batches of five games up to the next international break. We're halfway through the season now and are disgruntled about only taking a point from some games. We should have won almost all the games we drew, especially the last one. We're exasperated that the players and the coaching team didn't get the reward for their extraordinary work more often in terms of three points."

…the planned focus on defensive stability:

Fabian Hürzeler: "For me, preventing goals begins in possession and thinking about how we're going to score goals begins off the ball. I know the stats as far as the xG value and opposition attempts on goal are concerned, but it's simply the case that football is about the small stuff and working on details. And these are precisely the things we need to fine-tune. The 90 minutes are about consistency in your defending and positional play. We've lacked that in some games. If we'd kept a clean sheet in three or four of the games we drew, we'd have won them. Our identity will always be the need to keep a clean sheet. We'll work on that. It's hard work and it will come down to the details."

Head coach Fabian Hürzeler emphasised the importance of keeping a clean sheet.

Head coach Fabian Hürzeler emphasised the importance of keeping a clean sheet.

…the likely absence of some international players at the start of the year:

Andreas Bornemann: "We're obliged to release players and it would be a big surprise if Jackson and Connor weren't involved at the Asian Cup. Elias is a contender for the Tunisia squad. He made a good decision recently to focus on the club. A lot happened last year for someone who came from the fourth tier. He would do well to use the short break now to come down emotionally and prepare well for the second half of the season instead of packing the next big thing on top of everything else. There are two sides to the coin when it comes to releasing players. We want players to develop, and you can't tell Fabian to make the players better but not so good that they become a candidate for their national team. We have to deal with it and adapt as well as possible."

…potential winter transfers:

Andreas Bornemann: "We're obviously having a look, but it has to be worth it. They have to strengthen the squad beyond the few months left in the second half of the campaign. It has to make sense and shouldn't be about artificially increasing the size of the group. So we're considering it, of course, but we've also made clear it makes no sense to have a bloated squad. We're going through all the scenarios, as we do before every transfer period, but it has to fit. Fabian gives the players a clear plan of how he understands football and want to play. It's important for anyone who comes here to know what to expect and what he can learn on top of what he already knows."

Director of sport Andreas Bornemann in conversation with captain Jackson Irvine.

Director of sport Andreas Bornemann in conversation with captain Jackson Irvine.

…Fabian Hürzeler's contract situation:

Andreas Bornemann: "Fabian is a godsend for St. Pauli, but so are St. Pauli for Fabian. There are obviously lots of factors in play. We have an extremely good and trustful working relationship. The coach is the most important staffing matter. Another aspect is that clarity does everyone good, the team, the club, Fabian and me. Having clarity is in our interest, and working together to continue the development for the club is the clear objective."

Fabian Hürzeler: "We talk to each other and try to find the best possible solution for both sides. It makes no difference to me in my approach and the work I'm doing at the moment how long my contract has left to run because I enjoy working with the team and my staff so much. I've never experienced a sense of unity like this one in my playing or coaching career so far. That includes the officials as well. I have a great rapport with Oke Göttlich and the office management as well and feel very much at home here."


Photos: Witters

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