In addition to intense training in Neurippin, media duties are also on the schedule for Hertha’s players. This time, herthabsc.de spoke to central defenders Karim Rekik, Niklas Stark and Jordan Torunarigha.
Karim Rekik on...
... the pre season: Pre season is always hard and exhausting. You push your body to the limit. In the first place is is always about getting fit and getting back into shape. Of course there are always a little bit of pain here and there, but you have to just keep going. This first part of preseason is really important when looking ahead towards the whole season. After four weeks of holiday I was really looking forward to returning to training and being back with the team.
... the relationship between the players and fitness coach Henrik Kuchno: I won’t lie – there is not one footballer that loves to train without the ball and just run. At the same time, we are all aware that we have to put ourselves through it in order to be as fit as possible going into the new season.
... Dedryck Boyata: I got to know him when I was 16 years old. When I joined Manchester City back then, Dedryck was already there. We always got on well and he helped me find my feet there. Now I am helping him to settle into Berlin. When you join a new club, it is always important to integrate into the team quickly – that is the only way you can feel at home.
... the change of head coach: That is a different experience for every player. There are guys that haven’t been in such a situation before. I played under five different coaches in just two years at Marseille – so it is nothing new for me. Also, everyone knows Ante because he has already worked at Hertha for a long time. Now we are getting to know him as a coach as well. So far everything is going well and everyone understands each other. We are working a lot with the ball and the focus is on taking in Ante’s philosophy of how to play and understanding which role each player has on the pitch, both offensively and defensively.
Niklas Stark on...
... the anticipation ahead of the new season: We have a new coach with a vision and a new style of play. He is already going into detail at this early stage of pre season. It is really enjoyable to do something different. Of course not everything has fallen into place just yet, but that it totally normal at this point in time. But speaking with the guys on the details is really enjoyable.
... Ante Čović‘s attacking style: So far we have spoken a lot about attack. Of course we also have to discuss the defensive elements. But the first week was very offensive orientated – what we all want. And that attack starts in defence. The build up play is for me a central role of attack and that starts with us in defence. We want to play nice and attacking football, be in possession over long periods and not just press in the midfield. We want to have our own phases of passing phases – that is what Ante wants too and therefore it is enjoyable to work with him.
... the euphoria around the new coach: I definitely feel a sense of euphoria. With the new system and new tactics a lot of things have become clear. He always goes into details and if he sees something, he will stop training. He is a perfectionist – which I find good. It is really enjoyable to work with him, especially on the minor details that matter in the Bundesliga.
... new arrival Dedryck Boyata and the increased competition: It is normal for new players to join. We saw in the previous seasons that we needed another centre back. Of course new players will increase competition in one position. It is completely normal that you need several centre backs over the course of the season in order to maintain the quality all year round. Therefore it is good that Dedryck is here. We have options to rotate in defence.
Jordan Torunarigha on…
…his fitness: I feel fit, I feel good. If you follow me on Instagram, you’d have seen that I didn’t spend much of my summer on holiday – I was training a lot instead.
…his own expectations for the upcoming season: It will be an important season for me. I will have to stay free of injuries for the whole season and be involved for the whole campaign. I want to play as many games as possible.
…Ante Čović, who is a head coach, that relies on his younger players: That can be an advantage. I have known Ante for a long time and he has done some great work in the academy over the years. He has always been honest with me and Ante would always support me and give me game time. I know what he wants from me. I have to keep a cool head and put in a good performance on the pitch.
…the derby against Union: It is a true rivalry, just like Schalke 04 against Borussia Dortmund. Two teams in a city – every team wants to be the best in their city. In both games against Union, we need to give it 110%, especially because it is so crucial for the fans that we win against them. You can feel that rivalry already, even though it is a few months before the game. I have been told so many times about this game. As they all say to me – you just have to win against Union.