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NEHRIG: "YOU NEED TIME TO TAKE IT ALL ON BOARD"

Just before Christmas is a wonderful time to reflect on the previous 18 games and venture a look forward to the second part of the season. We spoke to captain Bernd Nehrig...

Monday night's 2-1 home win over VfL Bochum drew a positive line under a first half of the season that tailed off towards the end. Bernd Nehrig could only look on from the stands after tearing the deltoid ligament in his ankle, but was absolutely delighted with the performance of his teammates. "We were desperate to follow up a decent showing against Duisburg with a home win as a way of thanking the fans and signing off into the winter break," he said. "It'll do us good to go away feeling like this and switch off a bit, which is easier to do after a win."

The football year 2017 closed with match one of the second half of the season against Bochum, the reverse fixture having kicked off the league campaign back in late July. That trip to the Ruhr proved a successful day out, as the Boys in Brown came away with a 1-0 win. Commenting on the positive start to the season, Nehrig said: "We understand how the season has gone. We began very well. I think we were able to take the momentum from the successful ending to last season and carry it on into the new campaign."

Nine games in, the Boys in Brown sat sixth in the table on 16 points, having just claimed a 2-0 victory at Eintracht Braunschweig. The gap to the promotion/relegation play-off spot was just one point. Yet when the first half of the campaign came to an end eight winless games and one change of coach later, they had dropped to 15th place on just 21 points. The captain was in no doubt about what these figures meant, saying. "As the past shows, they don't matter. There are 34 games in a season, after all. The fact is we already have around twice as many points as we did at this stage last year, which is positive. The negative side, however, is that things could have gone much better.“

The team performed well in the first few weeks of the season but eventually suffered one setback after another. "After the win at Braunschweig we had a phase in which we lacked the last few percent you need to take all three points even though we weren't playing badly," said Nehrig. "We ended up drawing games or losing narrowly."

"At training camp we'll have a lot of time to practise exactly the things the boss wants to see."
Bernd Nehrig

The defensive midfielder struggled to name any absolute highlights in the first part of the season. "There are absolute highs and absolute lows in every game," he said. "That carries on throughout the season. You can say the Fürth and Bielefeld games were absolute lows and obvious setbacks, of course, and there were games where we couldn't be totally satisfied with our performance even though we won."

After stinging defeats at Greuther Fürth (4-0) and Arminia Bielefeld (5-0), Markus Kauczinski replaced Olaf Janßen at the helm. Despite having little time to settle in, the Gelsenkirchen-born coach immediately developed a rapport with the players, a process that is still some way from completion, however. " Before the game against Duisburg it was obviously hard to put his philosophy into practice straightaway after just two days in which to prepare," the skipper said. "You need time to take it all on board and for things to become routine."

Kauczinski will have this time when he jets off to the Malaga training camp with his players and coaching staff on 3 January. "He'll be able to get to know the team and each individual player better there," said Nehrig. "The same goes the other way round, of course. At training camp we'll have a lot of time to practise exactly the things the boss wants to see. That's why we have winter breaks and training camps. We want to see it through now and then go on the attack in the second half of the season. That's how important this time is."

Nehrig will be back in action by the time the preparations for the rest of the season begin. Though he will need further treatment on his injured ankle over Christmas, that will be done back home in agreement with the medical staff. "During the festive period I'll be down south spending time with my friends and family, time you don't often get during the season because it's simply too far to drive down on a regular basis," he said.

Asked one last question about his personal summary of the season so far, the Heidenheim-born player offered the kind of straight-laced reply you might expect of a captain: "My personal summary is irrelevant. It's a team sport. Talking is easy, you just have to understand that you need to give one hundred per cent. That's how you should conduct yourself."

 

Photos: Witters

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