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Interview, part 1

Jansen: Injury lay-off has taught me a lot

Marcell Jansen’s first six months at Bayern featured an impressive 14 appearances, all of them in the starting line-up. The 22-year-old, a high-profile summer signing from Borussia Mönchengladbach, could doubtless have looked back on an even better record had he not been halted in his tracks by an injury in mid-November, when Marcell was forced to undergo surgery on torn ankle ligaments sustained in a Germany training workout.

In the first part of an fcbayern.de exclusive interview, Jansen reports on his recovery from surgery, the unexpected upside to a spell out injured, and the critical differences between Gladbach and Bayern.

Interview with Marcell Jansen, part 1:

fcbayern.de: Marcell, you’ve been out injured since mid-November. How are you doing now?
Jansen: “It’s looking pretty good, especially considering it wasn’t just a minor injury. The operation must have gone really well, the ligaments seem really strong again. The recovery programme’s going well too, I’m gradually increasing the load all the time.“

fcbayern.de: How’s the rehab programme coming along?
Jansen: “I wore a cast for three weeks until early December. I’ve spent most of my time with the physio since then, getting the foot and the joint moving again. At the start it was a case of slowly learning how to walk again, although that happened fairly quickly. I restarted fitness training in mid-December, and did some work on the upper body. I’m back on the exercise bike now, which is good progress.“

fcbayern.de: When do you hope to return to the training ground?
Jansen: “I’m still wearing a special shoe to support the joint, but that comes off on 4 January. I’m hoping that’ll allow me to go jogging. I should be OK for the Marbella training camp, where I hope I’ll be able to do more running and some work with the ball. I want to use my time well at the training camp, so I can start working my way back towards the squad programme after that. That’s the outline plan anyway.“

fcbayern.de: Will you be fit to play by the time the season restarts?
Jansen: “It’s a realistic goal, although I can’t say whether I’ll be 100 percent physically fit by then.“

fcbayern.de: You’d claimed a regular starting berth at Bayern. How much of a setback was the injury?
Jansen: “Obviously I was devastated when it happened, but I was basically OK again just a couple of minutes later. I said to myself, they’ll stitch it all back together, and then on with the show. I look at other players who’re out injured for months or years, or who are even forced to give up the game. You just have to accept that injuries are part of this business.“

fcbayern.de: But then there’s always a tiresome recovery period. Doesn’t your morale hit rock bottom?
Jansen: “There’s a positive aspect to rehab training too. You need great strength of character to come through the recovery and fitness programme, and second, you learn a great deal when you’re out injured. You have time to let everything you’ve been through sink in properly and sort yourself mentally. Thirdly, you’re just overjoyed to get back on the field with the ball at your feet. You realise something: the ball is all that matters. All the other potential distractions, joy, pressure, tension, it’s all unimportant. You need to develop this mentality, because you end up playing without a care in the world. You can lose sight of that when you’re down in the footballing trench – but perhaps a little less quickly after a period with injury.“

fcbayern.de: What have you made of your first few months at Bayern?
Jansen: “Leaving Gladbach wasn’t easy for me, to be frank. Relegation with Gladbach was a real blow because I’m very attached to Gladbach, it was my first major club, and it’s my home town. There was a period of uncertainty before the transfer deal went through, and then suddenly it all happened overnight. I suddenly found myself at Bayern, with all their superstars. It’s not easy to deal with mentally. But I felt at home straight away and just got stuck in. I’ve never sensed any of this FC Hollywood stuff put about by the tabloids. Quite the opposite actually: the Säbener Strasse is a really down-to-earth place. We sit around in our little kitchen, the players are all very relaxed, everyone knows everyone else, and the fans are right up close to you at training. It’s absolutely not the way people think it is.“

fcbayern.de: How big is the difference between Gladbach and Bayern?
Jansen: “The biggest difference is the level of ambition. Bayern Munich is a top club, always competing for silverware. It’s a lot easier for a young player in a team like ours. Passes come cleanly straight to feet, it’s easier to get rave notices when you score every now and then. But I do believe it’s easier to develop as a player with a mid-table club, or if you’re battling against relegation. Fighting the drop with Gladbach in my early years as a pro was worth its weight in gold. We didn’t have any Zé Robertos or Franck Ribérys. I had to work hard for everything, running and battling for every touch of the ball and every point. And you’re under immense pressure, the very existence of the club is at stake. What I learnt in those two and a half years has been immensely beneficial. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.“

fcbayern.de: Is the pressure at Bayern different compared to Gladbach?
Jansen: “In my first full season as a pro, when Gladbach avoided the drop, I think the initial pressure was even worse than it is at Bayern. But over the longer term, the pressure here at Bayern is fundamentally greater, because we’re always up there at the top. Gladbach finished tenth that season, there was nothing at stake in the last few matches, we just went out and enjoyed ourselves. You can only allow yourself that kind of luxury at Bayern when you’re top of the league by eight clear points.“