It’s something that happens after every training camp, the judgment. After intense work over several days, everyone involved is drawing their own conclusions. It’s no different at Hertha. On Thursday, the day that the team departed the USA, Michael Preetz spoke to the journalists, who had travelled with the club to Florida. But instead of the goings-on over the past week, Preetz was pressed into conversations on the squad, ambitions and a new stadium. We have collated all of the most important points.
Michael Preetz on…
… Head coach Jürgen Klinsmann: There were reasons why I have repeatedly dealt with Jürgen Klinsmann and his representatives in recent years. I think that Berlin and the club need a personality like him in order to develop further. It makes a lot of sense, and now we have it all set up, we can work together to take the next step. We consciously sought after somebody, with whom we could take this step.
… The size of the squad and plans: In training, certain things can only be done if the group is of a certain size. For this reason, we see that there may still be room to make the squad smaller. When a new head coach and all his staff arrive, it’s normal for there to be adjustments that are made. This process is ongoing; changes before the end of January are not out of the question. But contracts at Hertha BSC are strictly adhered to, and every player should get the chance to prove himself, which is why we came to Florida with this group. The boys have all worked hard and are ready for the Rückrunde. However, one or two may still depart.
… Higher expectations due to Tennor’s investments: We want to grow and improve our football, and we want to sustain this. If financial capabilities are higher, then expectations are higher too. But it’s not about trying to match the top clubs, but using our new capital to gain an advantage over our direct league rivals. We need to continually improve our revenue to be able to mix it with the bigger clubs. When talking about targets, I want to clarify once again; when Lars Windhorst speaks, he speaks for TENNOR and their investment, we speak on behalf of Hertha BSC, as we’ve always done. We have a two-man management, which is responsible for the club. However, we remain in constant contact and are pulling in the same direction. There is absolutely no disagreement. Lars Windhorst wants to get things moving, and has caught the football bug in a very short time, just like the rest of us. We all want European football to come to Berlin and that is a key goal of ours, but it’s important to be realistic. But the guidelines are there. The Bundesliga is extremely demanding and we need to prove ourselves week after week.
… Ondrej Duda: He wasn’t in the squad against Frankfurt because we are close to a resolution. Ondrej is flying back with us and will then travel on. If it all goes well, it’s possible that we loan him out until summer, without an option to buy. His situation is similar to Eduard Löwen’s: he was looking at getting very little gametime, but he must play, he wants be playing and should be playing. With a loan, we still have a handle on it.
… New signing Santiago Ascacibar: We identified and areas that needed improvement and spoke about players that we felt could be of use to us. Santiago is one of those players, he fits the profile that we were searching for; an alternative to Per Skjelbred. Lots of our central midfielders are number eights, who like to get forward. The Hinrunde showed we needed another defensive midfielder. Santiago is a real fighter and has a great mentality. In addition, he’s been in Germany for two-and-a-half years and will hardly need any time to settle. He’s ready, is making a good impression and, in my view, is a player that can help us right away. Even without new signings, we can go into the Rückrunde knowing that we are well stocked in midfield.
… Possible transfers: We still have a few possibilities this winter and we have the resources to explore them. We're not swimming in money, despite what's being reported. I can assure everyone that we take financial and economic factors into account when considering any transfer. We always have one eye on the market and we'll always try to do something where possible, but any possible transfer has to adhere to our needs, our ambitions and our financial capabilities. We also have to consider our academy prospects and give them a chance to show what they can do in the first team setup. But one thing is very clear: the future is bright here.
... Arne Maier's injury against Frankfurt: I was in a really good position to see the incident and it didn't look to have affected him much at first. It reminded me of a few of the injuries I picked up as a player. It was clear that he was in shock at first, but luckily he seemed a lot better in the dressing room and we're hopeful that it's not that bad. We'll wait for a proper diagnosis when we get back to Berlin though.
... Niklas Stark's situation: Niklas hasn't started in recent weeks but the team has been keeping clean sheets and defending well, so he'll just have to be patient for now. However, we know what we have in a player of his calibre and we know that starting lineups change a lot throughout a season. Yes it's true that a certain starting XI solidified their positions before the winter break but the lads who were left out are very close to getting in too. That goes for Niklas, as well as Jordan Torunarigha. We need their quality so that our squad has some strength in depth!
... Working with Arne Friedrich: We have different skills, which combine really well when you put them together. Arne is already showing his importance in a variety of areas, which he has already explained - but we are still in the early stages. We are cooperating more and more, on a daily basis. Making measurable performance and improvements, discussing them with players and setting goals - this is a key aspect of Arne's work and highly meaningful in competitive sports. In addition, as a player, he gained an incredible amount of experience, which he also incorporates into the work with the team.
... Aims for the Rückrunde: We have a difficult task to kick it all off, one where we'll have to abandon all expectations. Our aim for the Rückrunde is to do better than we did in the Hinrunde. 19 points is not an especially pleasing total so it's now about bringing the season to a close with something we can build on going into next season.
... Stadium discussions: We expect that something will change this year in regards to this discussion. Things are starting to get moving and hopefully this year we can make a breakthrough. It's going to be an exciting year for us - not just in terms of the stadium!