Berlin – Per Skjelbred has had a chance to relax with his wife and children on holiday in the Caribbean. He enjoyed a few weeks of sun and relaxation without thinking too much about football. At the end of June, however, Skjelbred returned back to Berlin to train with Hertha. He performed just as well in training as the Hertha fans are used to seeing him play. Hard working, motivated and good-humoured are just a few words often used to describe the Norwegian midfielder. After two weeks of training, the 31-year old spoke to herthabsc.de about the pain of conditioning workouts, Hertha’s new arrivals and the World Cup in Russia.
Herthabsc.de: Per, you’ve completed two weeks of training now. How tired are those legs?
Skjelbred: Well, they’re still working (laughs). They are a bit sore, but that happens to all players. It’s normal when we are moving about so much on the training pitches. It is not my first pre-season training so I know what to expect. The most important thing is that we all find a balance between working hard and relaxing so we don’t risk picking up any injuries.
Herthabsc.de: Things will be different next week when you have completed your conditioning training in Neuruppin. Are you looking forward to working hard with your fitness coach Henrik Kuchno?
Skjelbred: Every day in Neuruppin is going to hurt. Us players have to be positive going into these training sessions so we can gain the most from them. We know we have to lay the important groundwork ahead of the upcoming season. Even though this phase is not very fun, it is essential for a successful season. Some of the new arrivals don’t realise how hard the training is going to be and we’re teasing them a little for it, but at the end we’ll all be suffering together.
Herthabsc.de: Hertha have recently signed three new players: Pascal Köpke, Javairo Dilrosun and Lukas Klünter. A few of the youth players will also be joining the squad. What impression do you have of the new arrivals?Skjelbred: We have made some brilliant additions to the squad! They have integrated well into the team and performed well in training. They are all also great guys to spend time with – both on and off the pitch.
Herthabsc.de: This is your fifth summer pre-season with Hertha. How much has changed since you joined the club?
Skjelbred: Henrik Kuchno is the difference. He has made the club more professional. We run more and we train more intensely now. We trust what he tells us to do in training. We have realised in the past few years that training hard leads to better results.
Herthabsc.de: Let’s put Hertha to one side for a minute. Fantastic international teams who like to keep possession like Spain and Germany have fallen short of expectations at the World Cup. Does that mean the end for Tiki-Taka football?
Skjelbred: Spain were known for this style of football for a long time and were the best team in the world. They started the World Cup well, but Russia worked out their game plan and got the luck they needed themselves to go through. France have quick players which make them very dangerous going forward, but they are also solid defensively. I don’t have a lot to say about Marvin Plattenhardt and Germany. After an intense year, I hope that he is able to enjoy his holiday and come back refreshed.