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Pre-season always kicks off with a press conference, and this year is no exception. One difference on Monday afternoon, however, was that the head coach facing the media was Olaf Janssen and not Ewald Lienen. The 50-year-old spoke about his new role, his goals and what sort of person he was.

New boss Olaf Janssen strode into the press conference to mark his accession and the start of the club's pre-season preparations with a big smile on his face and bristling with motivation on Monday afternoon. "I'm absolutely delighted to get going at last and looking forward to tackling the job in hand along with the team," he began. "Driving to the training ground as head coach today was a different feeling, of course. I'm hugely motivated to continue along the upward path we're on."

Explaining why he found it so easy to settle in at the Millerntor and accept the job as head coach, Janssen recalled the first few weeks in Hamburg, a time when the Boys in Brown lost several games in a row: "The support of the fans never let up. That impressed me immensely." Despite a superb second half of the season, now was not the time for euphoria, he continued. "We'll continue on our way and take each game as it comes. For us it will be about approaching the next game as if it were the final day."

Asked about possible changes on the training ground, Janssen said little would change in substance. "I will slip into the role of observer a bit, of course, as I want to have a feel for the whole. I carry the responsibility now and will no doubt have a greater presence, and that includes the media."

Janssen is not the only one with responsibility, however. "It's a fresh start for every player," he said. "They all have a chance to stake a claim for a place in the team when pre-season comes to an end and it's down to them to make sure they do." Janssen is sure his players will accept this responsibility, however. "They're a superb squad, all with flawless characters," he said in praise of his players, whom he has now known for eight months already.

The new boss also had a fitting answer when it was claimed he was not one to hog the spotlight, unlike predecessor Ewald Lienen. "I'm an animal when it matters," he said with a grin before adding: "Joking aside, people will get to know me. I won't do a lap of the pitch before the game, but I will find my own way to express my thanks for this fantastic support."


Photo: Witters