“We have to get the team to match sharpness”

HSV manager Dieter Hecking spoke to the media as part of a virtual press conference on Thursday afternoon about the return to team training and the return of Bundesliga action.

Dieter Hecking and his charges were clearly thrilled to be back together again. After a month of restriction-filled training in smaller groups, being able to train as a whole squad, with 11-a-side games, and throwing yourself into challenges again put a smile on their faces. “Those are the things that footballers need. You could see the joy the players had from training properly again,” Hecking confirmed at a virtual press conference after Thursday’s training session. Yet the fact that the journalists had to ask their questions from their own homes via a Zoom meeting made it clear that whilst football is back, we are a long way away from returning to normal.  “We are aware that we are under the microscope. It’s now in our hands to implement the DFL’s concept and to stand up to the responsibility that has been given to us,” Hecking explained, referring to the approval handed to the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga by the federal government on Wednesday afternoon. Part of the DFL’s concept, so that it was approved by the health authorities, includes multiple tests, a quarantine training camp and games behind closed doors. Hecking now has the task of preparing his charges for the different conditions that await them for the remaining eight games of the season. 

Hecking spoke about…

the return to team training: The lads are obviously happy to be together as a group again and see their teammates that they haven’t seen for the last five weeks. You could see the joy that they had in training. A bigger group, different exercises, throwing themselves into challenges – those are the things that footballers need. The atmosphere was and is good because of that but in no way slack. We’re also aware that we’re under the microscope at the moment in terms of keeping to the hygiene standards.

the unusual situation: We are trying to make the most of the unusual situation. We’re a long way away from normality, I communicated that quite clearly to the team yesterday. It’s not the same as it was before. Our processes will be completely different. There will be articles that aren’t up-to-date anymore only five hours later or so, because the situation is changing all the time. That will be the challenge for us. We have a good team, and we have to be flexible. We’ve always been in the position to play good football this season, we have to focus on that again. We have to do what we do best: Play football!

games without spectators: I can’t say what the atmosphere will be like. We can’t influence anything that comes from outside. What we can influence is how the team prepares for the game. Of course, we would like to play every home game in front of 57,000 spectators but that’s not possible at the moment. We have to adapt to that. It’s clear that we will miss the fans and the atmosphere but we still have to produce our best performance with the conditions given to us. After the first games behind closed doors, we’ll probably have to make changes but we’re not thinking about that at this moment in time. 

the challenging training conditions: It would have been nice to have had a longer time to prepare. However, all teams have been training for the past five weeks. The players aren’t starting again from scratch but had an amount of work to do during their individual and group training since the beginning of March. You’ll definitely be able to see in the first two games that the players aren’t at 100% match fitness. But it’s the same for all clubs. It’s up to every player individually, how they adapt to it and deal with the workload. We definitely won’t be training twice a day, most likely once but for a longer period. We have to get away from the rondos and positional games and into longer runs and 11-a-side games, which were certainly unfamiliar for the players today. You could see that they were huffing and puffing but that’s the same for everyone. We have to make the best out of the situation and get the team to match sharpness.”