It’s been a controversial season in blue and white that has promoted lots of discussion. As, Managing Director for Sport, Michael Preetz has bore the brunt of it, as a turbulent year for Hertha comes to a close. “We feel we’re in a great position now and we haven’t left anything out there on the pitch this season. Under Bruno Labbadia we’ve had a lot of success so far and we hope there’s more of that to come in the future,” summed up Preetz. He doesn’t want to look back too much, for him now, it’s all about looking ahead to the next season and preparing as well as possible. “We’ve done a lot of good work in the last few weeks, not just on the pitch but off it, and now we want to make good decision in the summer break,” said Preetz. In an interview with us, the 52-year-old spoke to us about the effects that the Coronavirus pandemic has had on the transfer market, his personal view of the season, and gives us an overview of the plan moving forward here in Berlin.
herthabsc.de: Michael, a crazy and intense season for everyone in Blue and White came to an end in Gladbach. How do you asses this season on the whole?
Preetz: It was certainly a year that no one could have predicted. It’s ended up being an extraordinary season for us because of the Corona pandemic, but it’s been a satisfying end given that we managed to bring in Bruno Labbadia and we got some good results under him to finish off the campaign. I’d like to take this opportunity to once again thank all the staff at the club, not just the players, for a wonderful season.
herthabsc.de: What have been your personal experiences of these strange phases of the season?
Preetz: You always try to make the best decision given the information you have during the current situation. And just like everything else in life, you can’t get everything right, but it’s up to you to see what went right and correct the things that went wrong for you - because situations are constantly changing. We feel that this season, we made some good decisions, corrected things we got wrong, but some decision were a little out of our hands (laughs). The important thing is though, that we put our club in a position to be great in the future.
herthabsc.de: You mean under the guidance of Bruno Labbadia.
Preetz: In the summer we put our trust in Ante Covic, who earned his shot at the job through his great work at the club, and I’m still convinced that he’ll be a great coach. With Bruno and his team now, we have a structure which benefits both sides massively, and we could see that right from his first few weeks with the squad. It’s not just on the pitch during games, it’s out on the training pitch and off the pitch altogether , it’s a great relationship.
herthabsc.de: Can you elaborate on that relationship a little more?
Preetz: Bruno and his team work constantly with our players, and he brings with him many years of Bundesliga experience, during which he’s had to deal with varying situations. He knows how to deal with so many different things and that helps a lot. He’s brought a different idea of how to set up so that we can play a much more attacking style of football, and our target for the coming season is to continue playing that way. He and his team have created an open, positive atmosphere in the dressing room and we’re hoping that will continue into the coming season.
herthabsc.de: You’ve spent many summers here with the club now. It’s been a strange few weeks now though with the Corona pandemic. Do you think that will affect how transfers are done in the summer?
Preetz: For sure. There’ll be a little break so everyone can get sorted first, but no one is really focused on the market at all at the moment because we’ve just ended our season, but so many leagues are still yet to finish theirs. That will make it a massive challenge to get things done.
herthabsc.de: 8 players are out of contract at the end of this season too, which will mean there’ll be plenty of changes to the squad come next season. What are your plans?
Preetz: Per Skjelbred, Salomon Kalou, Marko Grujic, Marius Wolf, Thomas Kraft and Alexander Esswein will leave the club. Peter Pekarik has extended his contract, but the situation with Ibisevic is still up in the air. Nils Körber and Daishawn Redan will return to us. Other than that, we’re working on ways to improve our squad, but it’s the same as in any other transfer market: there’ll be plenty of movement between clubs, and we’re prepared for that.
herthabsc.de: Does that mean that holidays will have to wait another year for you?
Preetz: Yes, that’s right. But I knew that this was coming and it means I can plan for the future now. We’ve been doing plenty of good work off the field in these past few weeks and now we just want to make some good decisions.