The first pre-match press conference of the 2021/22 season saw another step on the return to normaily: thanks to a reduced capacity, distancing and face masks, media representatives were able to attend the press conference in person and address Pál Dárdai und Arne Friedrich directly. Ahead of Hertha’s first competitive game of the new season, the DFB-Pokal first-round trip to SV Meppen, the head coach and sporting director had a number of topics to discuss. The pair spoke about…
… the task in Meppen:
Pál Dárdai: The team should enjoy the first game of the season; we’ve worked well and completed our pre-season programme. Now we’re going into the game positively. There’s always a chance of being knocked out in every cup game, that’s not a reason for pressure for me, and I don’t want to hear that word again. Pressure is something that ill people have to deal with, people who have to go hungry. We have a beautiful blue and white family and we simply want to be focused in our work and play a good game for our fans. We’re fully prepared for Sunday and have also practiced penalties. We want to demonstrate enjoyment in our football, and if it gets tight, then we will have to fight as a team.
Arne Friedrich: What’s said in the build up to the game doesn’t matter – the decisive thing is that we deliver on the pitch. We have a good team and we’re ready for the job at hand. It won’t be easy; Meppen have some strong players and are a side that we respect, a side that will demand a lot from us. However, we want to win this game.
… new signings Prince Boateng, Stevan Jovetić and Suat Serdar:
Pál Dárdai: It looks good with Stevan; he’s a great footballer, who also works well in tight areas. Prince also had a good pre-season. He could play 60 minutes, he helps us a lot as a leader. I’m very grateful for Fredi Bobic and Arne’s squad building, and the possibilities that I have as a result. I’d also like to mention Suat, who gives us new options in a footballing sense. Now we have to do something on the wing, and then I’ll be confident going into the season.
Arne Friedrich: We’re very pleased with our three new arrivals. Prince has lifted the DFB-Pokal before and is a real leader and an all-round mature person. ‘Jove’ is another very mature player who brings class and experience into the team. Suat Serdar fills a hole in our squad by adding the ability to attack from midfield. He can also act independently on the pitch. These things make me confident that we’ll see a good performance from the team against Meppen.
Pál Dárdai: Dedryck Boyata will remain our captain. He has the right presence in the team and the boys listen to him. At the weekend, however, he won’t start; the game comes too soon for him. Niklas Stark is a fantastic defender and will remain our vice captain.
… the departure of Luca Netz:
Pál Dárdai: Luca decided to leave the club. We have to respect that. He would have got game time here, like he already had been. We like working with our young talents and do a good job, that everyone involved and our fans can be proud of. When situations like this arise, they have to be dealt with. I’d have loved Luca to have chosen Hertha BSC in his decision, but that didn’t happen. In the future, we want to do better and continue doing everything together for the Hertha badge.
Arne Friedrich: We did everything you could think of to keep Luca. We wanted to build with him and use him, but unfortunately we didn’t do so. That’s a part of football. Of course, we wish Luca all the best and a successful career.
… the return of fans:
Arne Friedrich: We’re incredibly pleased to have fans back in the stadium. In the friendlies, we’ve already experienced the difference that it makes – especially against Liverpool. We hope that things will continue to improve, but we have to allow for all possibilities. The decisions are made by politicians, but of course we want to do our part to have fans in the ground. A lot is being done; the football has earned fans to be back. One thing is clear: the health of the people always comes first.