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HIMMELMANN UPBEAT FOR NEXT SEASON

The arrival of Jos Luhukay at the Millerntor did not simply mean a new face on the touchline. Very quickly, things had changed on the pitch, too. Robin Himmelmann's outfield teammates had been instilled with a new idea of attacking football by their new coach. Though the change of approach was not immediately reflected in an improved points haul, it did whet the appetite for next season, as the St. Pauli goalkeeper explains in this interview.

Asked how he was feeling after the final day, Robin Himmelmann said: "It's not the usual end-of-season feeling. When a long season ends, you're normally OK with it and you look forward to going on holiday and spending some time without football. It's not that different now, but many of us are already looking ahead to pre-season and the new campaign. The first few weeks under Jos Luhukay were very enjoyable."

So how did the new playing style look from his perspective? "It gave me a good feeling," Himmelmann continued. "The team tried to take control and be pro-active even when they didn't have the ball. They looked to press the opposition early and stamp their authority on the game. We played with an attacking defence at times. You could sense the team wanted to seize the initiative. At the same time, it means the onus is everyone to do more. We have to anticipate things better and be more alert mentally, but it's also about improving our physical fitness, as we're pressing the opposition more and sitting back less."

The outfield players are not the only ones affected by Luhukay's new approach, however, as Himmelmann has also had to adjust his positioning on the pitch. "When we pack the defence and the opposition are moving the ball around on the halfway line, I take up a deeper position," he said, describing his approach in the first three-quarters of the season. "Towards the end of the season, we operated higher up the pitch, which obviously means I have to be higher up the pitch as well because I have to cut out any through balls or long balls."

Looking ahead to the start of pre-season on Sunday, 23 June, Himmelmann appears eager to get going. "The last few weeks have been a kind of test phase. The coach has had a chance to get used to the conditions, the squad and the club. We shouldn't forget that we've had a lot of injured players recently who haven't played under him yet. The first day back in training will be a new situation for the returning players. It will be interesting to see how quickly the team can put Luhukay's ideas into practice."

Whatever happens, Himmelmann is looking forward to the new challenge. "It's going to be intense because a lot of new mechanisms will have to mesh," he said. "it will take a few days, weeks and maybe even months until it's really good, but then it can get really good."

 

Photos: Witters

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