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Philipp Ziereis took time out before training on Wednesday to field questions from the media. The central defender spoke not only about a welcome break without training this weekend but also about...

…the stresses and strains of the last few weeks: "We've all deserved a couple of days off for a breather after essentially playing through without a mid-season break. The short winter break and the busy schedule over the last two or three weeks have made themselves felt. It was also a mental thing because we've had a lot of games and January, in particular, was pretty hefty. But you take that when you're successful and things are going well. It's a bit easier to cope with the workload then."

…the reasons for the turnaround: "The key for me was that we stayed calm even in the bad spells. We kept working steadily and believed in ourselves. We knew the process we had started in summer would need time until everything slotted together. We'd obviously hoped we'd get our reward in the way we have recently, but no one could have expected so many wins. It feels good to see that our work and our approach were correct."

…integrating the new players: "It isn't difficult to come into this team. We're a homogeneous and open group, as has always been the case in recent years. The lads have settled in really well, it wasn't a major challenge for us. Somehow, we all have a similar mentality. We usually speak German, but a lot of English as well, and lads like James Lawrence and Sebastian Ohlsson, for example, do understand German very well."

…his role as captain: "It's made no difference on the pitch whether I wear the armband or not. I play in a position where you see much more from the back. You have to keep talking and are able to direct lots. It's my aim to lead by example and help the lads. After all the years I've been here, it's nice to be able to captain this club."

…the strong second half and the question of who are the best team at the moment: "If you look at the table for the second half of the season, no one's better than us at the moment (he grins). In this league we know it comes down to the form on the day every weekend and we can't afford to rest on our laurels from previous weeks. You saw how quickly things can change against Paderborn. If your opponents have a good day, you lose. We then deserved to win against Osnabrück because we were the better team. When we understand that we have to go to the limit every game, we have a great chance of winning. We've done that really well recently and we're a tough, tough side to beat then."

...parallels with the 2016/17 season and the targets for this one: "It's hard to compare the teams, in their own way they all have something special. We had a great squad then and were brilliant in the second half of the campaign. It was a lot of fun. I think we're playing the best football at the moment and it's the best team since I've been at St. Pauli. It's just so much fun at the moment. We have superb footballers in the team and a plan we're putting into practice. We want to keep doing our thing and get as many points as possible. I hope we'll end up with more than the 45 we got in 2016/17. Our prime target is to get the most out of the last eight games."


Photos: Witters