The end is nearly in sight. Our team will be done with their quarantine on Thursday, and will return to training on Friday. Pál Dárdai’s side will have three days to prepare for Monday’s crucial away game against FSV Mainz 05 (18:00 CEST). The match marks the start of a key phase in the season run-in, with staying up the main goal on everyone’s mind. Sporting director Arne Friedrich will also finally be able to leave his home after 14 days in isolation, and has spent the time thinking about the remaining six Bundesliga games. “We’re very much looking forward to them. We want to prove in these games that we want to distance ourselves from the bottom,” he said during a virtual press conference. The 41-year-old also touched on the team’s training during quarantine. “As a club, we’ve done everything in our power to guide and support the team during this time, and to prepare them for the end of the season. Believe me when I say that we put in plenty of hard work over these last days,” Friedrich said. Hear from Friedrich on...
...training at home: First, I want to start by thanking our fitness coach Henrik Kuchno who came up with some creative and tough exercises, given the circumstances. Together with Hendrik Vieth, he worked day and night to make sure that the lads are as fit as possible. We’re also grateful to our organisational team, who equipped each player with a bike and treadmill at the start of quarantine. As a club, we’ve done everything in our power to guide and support the team and to prepare them for the end of the season. Believe me when I say that we put in plenty of hard work over these last days. Outside of training, the lads were also given other tasks to complete by Pál Dárdai and his team.
...the quarantine coming to an end: At the start, we made it clear to the lads that this would be a time to prepare for the remaining games this season. The team were very disciplined and did everything possible to work on their fitness and mental strength. It’s possible that these two weeks have helped us all to clear our minds a bit. We explored every possibility and even spoke to some other clubs in order to hear their experiences. We did everything possible to increase the likelihood of us hitting the ground running.
...returning to the pitch: We’re very much looking forward to returning to team training. The workload will definitely be different to what it was during quarantine, which is why Pál and his team are making sure to not overwork the lads and to spread out the drills. Mentally, it will also be good to be back outside training with the team. We have a plan and we’re ready. We want to prove in these games that we want to get away from the bottom.
[>]Health comes first. Seeing how they were affected, especially Rune, was a stark reminder of how serious the situation with Covid-19 is.[<]
…the health of those affected by the virus at the club: Health comes first. That’s why we’re happy that Rune Jarstein is doing better now, as he was hit particularly hard by the virus. He sounded a bit more lively when I last spoke to him. However, we’re not expecting him to feature again this season. Marvin Plattenhardt and Dodi Lukébakio’s symptoms were not as severe, fortunately, but both were unable to train over the last weeks. Both will undergo a final medical check after quarantine. Afterwards, we’ll come up with a plan for how the two can rejoin the team so that they will be able to help out for the remaining games. Pál is also doing well, although he’d lost some of his sense of taste recently. We spoke daily over FaceTime and he looked nice and fresh. Seeing how they were affected, especially Rune, was a stark reminder of how serious the situation with Covid-19 is.
...further preventative measures: The DFL’s medical task force, under the guidance of Prof. Tim Meyer, is doing a great job with their concepts. We’re continuing to adhere to them and will quarantine as a team after the Schalke game.
...changes to his day-to-day work: When the weather was nice, I moved my office out onto my balcony. That was really the only change, otherwise I still had the same amount of phone calls or video chats as before, in addition to the virtual training sessions.
...his plans for the future after this summer: I returned as performance manager in summer 2019 in order to help the team. A lot has happened since then. I’ve since taken on the role as sporting director, and am responsible for all the sporting matters and was even the coach for a day (grins). It’s an incredible journey, which was entirely unplanned. The work is a lot of fun, and I’m surrounded by incredible people every day. We will take the time soon to sit down together and discuss what the club wants and what my plans are. Right now, the focus is entirely on staying up.
[>]It’s down to us, it’s in our own hands. In the end, it will come down to who can deal with it best, and there will be no room for excuses. The most important message is this: we’re well equipped and need to believe in ourselves! If we win these games, then we’ll be out of danger![<]
...the tournament-style end to the season: We’re preparing as best as possible. That includes the travel to the games, the training sessions and making sure there’s enough time for recovery, all while adhering to the DFL’s hygiene concept. The lads will have to be strict with their nutrition and make sure to get plenty of sleep. The way the games have been scheduled will also help with that, as we will be able to return home the night of our away games.
...the situation ahead of the season run-in: We’re three points back of the relegation play-off spot having played three games less, and are four points off safety. We have a good grasp of the situation. It wasn’t to be expected that Köln would pick up six points from the double header week, or that Mainz would beat Bayern or that Bremen would be drawn back into a relegation fight. However, we shouldn’t focus too much on that. The fact of the matter is that we are within striking distance and want to influence what we can. It’s down to us, it’s in our own hands. In the end, it will come down to who can deal with it best, and there will be no room for excuses. The most important message is this: we’re well equipped and need to believe in ourselves! If we win these games, then we’ll be out of danger!