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Janssen: "The lads pushed themselves to the limit"

As the Maria Alm training camp was drawing to a close, head coach Olaf Janssen looked back over the past ten days in Austria and spoke at length about...

...the training camp just ended

In footballing terms it's been positive all round. At training camp we dipped into the most important part of pre-season. That means lots of sessions and lots of conversations with the players. We focused on football almost 24 hours a day; the lads pushed themselves to the limit. In the two warm-up games they tried to put the things we discussed into practice. Apart from freshness, which was understandably lacking, I was very pleased with the performances. Taking our chances is another thing we need to work on, but that's always related to physical condition and freshness, so from that point of view it was nothing out of the ordinary. Everything else is on track and the lads are pulling their weight. They've all shown a desire to be in the first team, regardless of whether they were playing for the Under-23s or the first team last season. The whole squad showed very good energy. Essentially we've come through without any muscle injuries, which is evidence of good training control. Everyone who was ailing at training camp will be fit as a fiddle on Thursday when we resume training.

...the new signings

I'm very happy with the way Sami is getting involved with his experience. He's enriched our attacking game and makes us less predictable. It's as if he's always been with us. Luca has met all my hopes and expectations. His potential is clear for all to see. He needs to show the confidence and assurance his quality merits and apply it ruthlessly on the pitch but I've no worries there. He'll give us a lot of enjoyment in future. And Schoppe's a machine. No one likes playing against him, even in training, and he has to make sure it stays that way. He still needs to do better on the ball but he's been brave so far and will get it under control.

...the team spirit

The interaction in the squad is extraordinary and for me it's the main reason we did so well in the second half of last season. The older players are pulling the others along. No one takes himself too importantly, everyone has the entire squad in focus. That's got to be an asset. We've carried that into pre-season and it's been further intensified by the three new guys. Sami, Luca and Schoppe fit in like pieces in a jigsaw. The lads are enjoying their work. You only see how strong a construct is when something goes wrong. We want to avoid that, of course, but we will come across obstacles over the course of the season that we'll need to move out of the way.

Olaf Jannsen and his coaching staff had plenty of fun in Maria Alm.

Olaf Jannsen and his coaching staff had plenty of fun in Maria Alm.

...new director of sport Uwe Stöver

For me it's important to have someone who'll fight alongside me. I'd spoken to Uwe before and was involved from the start. We had a lively exchange and I have a very good feeling. Uwe knows the business. His calmness and loyalty to his colleagues are what make him stand out. He's always tried to give his coaches maximum support. I look forward to him starting. We'll go on the attack then.

...new captain Bernd Nehrig

The captaincy was an easy question to resolve in this squad simply because the structure is right. Bernd and his vice-captain Lasse personify what we stand for in outstanding fashion. Both have been at the club a long time. I chose Bernd for various reasons. He operates in a very central position on the pitch, which is important if a captain is going to reach the lads on the field. The responsibility of being captain could tease a few more percent out of Bernd precisely because he's a very emotional player. That doesn't mean going overboard, of course. Lasse rests more in himself. He's not an obvious big talker but his manner gives him an important status in the squad."

...potential starting lineup

We'll start by analysing the things from training camp on Wednesday and Thursday. The longer pre-season goes on, the closer you get to your fist eleven, but some players who have injured or carrying knocks haven't had a chance to show themselves properly, so although the first team has become more concrete it's not final yet. I haven't yet decided whether the team that starts at Bochum will also start against Bremen. Though the Werder game is the final rehearsal before the start of the season, it remains a warm-up game, so I'll leave the door open as to whether I'll still try one or two things.

...the goalkeeper question

The goalkeeper question is open because Robin has had spells out of action and hasn't had a proper chance to show what he can do. Philipp has played three games over 90 minutes, Robin just one. Robin will therefore get another 90 minutes against Bremen and then we'll make a decision.

...a potential pre-season target

I can only say what I told the players. We're proud that we've been able to keep the team more or less together, but we know this team were still bottom of the table a few months ago. This team also picked up 34 points in the second half of the season. I think a degree of humility is appropriate. It makes no sense to start dreaming. We should concentrate on what we can influence and that's the next game. We'll prepare to the maximum and then give our all on the pitch. That's our aim. We'll do that 18 times up to Christmas and then we'll see what we've achieved. You have to keep refocusing and be ready to give it everything you've got all the time. If you don't, you're in for a nasty surprise.

Photos: Witters