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"I’ve got a very positive first impression"

Hertha BSC sporting director Michael Preetz gives his first summary of the pre-season training camp in Neuruppin.

Hertha BSC’s first training camp of the summer, and the first under new head coach Ante Čović, is drawing towards its conclusion. The Blue-Whites will complete their final training session in Neuruppin on Wednesday before travelling back to Berlin. The players have trained intensively over the course of the training camp and have got to know the new coaching team. On Tuesday, sporting director Michael Preetz spoke to the media about the new Croatian head coach: “He speaks to the players so incredibly often, steps in, surveys them in training and corrects a lot. That is important to him. That has a lot to do with how he would like carry things out.” Here is an overview of Preetz’s conclusions from the Neuruppin training camp.

Michael Preetz on:

…his initial impressions of training with Ante Čović: I’ve got a very positive first impression. I’m currently seeing a team who are excited and enthusiastic whilst training. The players are working and concentrating hard and this is normal when a new head coach takes over. I’m watching Ante be very demanding but also praise the players a lot. He is also communicating a lot with the players and he has given me a very good impression so far.

…the activities during training sessions in Neuruppin: The ball has been the focus of our work here in Neuruppin. Everyone who has played football once knows that it is better to work with the ball than without it. You initially then have the impression that these sort of exercises will be less tiring compared with others – however this is deceiving. Naturally, this week has also been about internalizing things as early as possible. On the one hand, a six week holiday is a long time, especially for the players, however on the other hand it is also a short period of time if you want to rehearse procedures for example. It is also a key learning phase between the new coaching team and the new players. Consequently, it helps that Ante allows the ball to do a lot of the work because when the season starts, you have to be able to work well with the ball.

…the changing style of play: We already will try to play a bit more attacking and active football. Ante is an attacking minded coach who works a lot with the ball and would like his side to enjoy possession in matches. However, in football it is ultimately all about scoring more goals than your opponents. Our style of play is therefore designed for us to create as many chances in attack as possible.

…potential changes in the squad: It is completely normal that our squad has become a little smaller. At the same time, our U23s are about to start the new season. We have players currently with us who will certainly be playing for the U23s next season. There other players we would like to loan out to enable them to make the next step in their development. Once the players missing after U21 international duty return in our second training camp, we will be almost back to full size. In Stegersbach, we will sit down together once again and see who will remain here for the new season. We are targeting a squad size of three goalkeepers and around 22-25 outfield players. Every player have the opportunity to show what they can do here. They want to make the most of it and the commitment is therefore very high here.

…potential new signings: We are watching the transfer market very closely. If we look back to last season, we made a good signing just before end of the transfer window in Marko Grujić. Therefore, we still have a relatively high amount of time. There is a lot of turbulence currently in the transfer market and it is therefore most important for the coaching team to get to know their new team correctly to find the correct targets to help the squad in the transfer market.

…new financial possibilities following the recent investment deal: We will continue to pursue young, interesting players. It is right for us to also look in other directions but it all about finding players who fit with our philosophy. This includes young players as well as experienced players as you saw with Dedryck Boyata. We will to continue to find young talent that we can develop. That remains our requirement. Even if we have new possibilities, we have to always look and make sure they fit in with our system.

…the fans’ desire to see a marquee signing who costs 30-40 million Euros: From my perspective, that wouldn’t make a lot of sense as those sort of transfers are always intertwined with risks. You can make mistakes with little money, you can make mistakes with a lot of money. Such players have to fit in with our system and philosophy. That sort of transfer cannot be completely ruled out and there will potentially be a transfer on this scale but I cannot say anything about such a transfer right now. I don’t really believe a team continues to develop significantly when a signing is made which the club is reliant upon. Our aim is to develop the team as a whole and that we have the potential to elevate individual players. We already know we need quality to achieve this and we are attempting to add the necessary pieces of the puzzle.

…the player’s potential for development: We have a lot of young players in the squad and I see potential for development in each of them. This also applies to the players who are still yet to return following U21 European Championship duty. Arne Maier is an example of a player who played an exceptional amount last season. We expect him to step up and add some more attacking qualities and we are convinced he will. We also have to ensure Jordan Torunarigha continues to improve and ensure he one day becomes an irreplaceable key player in the heart of defence. Maximilian Mittelstädt certainly has a lot of development ahead of him while Javairô Dilrosun showed a lot of quality in his debut season. We expect him to deliver moments such as that we saw during the Braunschweig friendly this weekend. In Dennis Jastrzembski we have a young player who we need to give the key to the attacking game to while I hope Niklas Stark is able to make the next step too.

…the role of veterans Salomon Kalou and Vedad Ibišević: I am seeing a more focused Vedad again who is incredibly ambitious and has been eager to perform throughout pre-season so far. Sala has a lot of quality as a player and we cannot let someone like that go, especially at this age. These are two players who have helped us achieve our positions in the Bundesliga table over the last few seasons. Both have written a big chapter in our history in recent here and I believe both have played a similar role in our success. Many of the younger players use the duo as their first point of contact and most players do not enjoy this luxury off the pitch.

…Union Berlin’s promotion as the second Berlin club in the Bundesliga: Things are changing, especially for Berlin as a sports city. That is positive to see. A higher concentration of football and Berlin sport can only be a good thing. Of course now there will be at least two derbys each here and from our persective, it is all about winning both of these matches. These are without our doubt our ambitions. However, both clubs will benefit from the competition on the pitch, the concentration of football and the rivalry.

…the season’s targets: When the full team is back and we have spoken with everyone, we will share our season aims. What I can certainly tell you now is that we want to fare better than last season ans continue to develop as a club.

Teams, 09.07.2019