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Qatar interview

Sammer: We have to hit the ground running

Doha lies in the middle of a desert, but it really did rain on Monday. The weather had no effect on Bayern’s training efforts at the Volkswagen Camp Qatar, which were intense and highly energetic. Matthias Sammer watched approvingly from the dugout, before meeting for a first interview of 2014. Sammer recalled his own experiences as a player, explained what he expects to be achieved at the training camp, and commented on the team’s progress.

Interview: Matthias Sammer Matthias Sammer, how was your vacation?
Matthias Sammer:
I really enjoyed the time with my family. We went to Austria as we always do. I managed to switch off, although certain work-related things always crop up. You work through them and resolve them by telephone. It’s part of my job, but I absolutely restrict the time I spend on it. In any case I love my job and it’s never a burden, so I was still able to relax totally.

Your holidays came to an end once and for all with the Lewandowski transfer…
It’s a major transfer for Bayern. We’re delighted it’s come off, but our opinion is that enough has been said. Robert Lewandowski is a Borussia Dortmund player, and he should now concentrate totally on his club. So I’m not going to say much more about it. We’ll talk about Robert Lewandowski at Bayern as of next summer.

Here we are at the training camp in Qatar, but did you enjoy training camps as a player?
Not as much as I do now. I don’t have to work as hard these days (grins). Mid-season training was much more punishing back then, because we had longer breaks between matches, and we used different tools for performance management and sports science. I can remember winter training camps with Dynamo Dresden at this time of the year. We had four training sessions a day, and we kept it up for two weeks! I can say with certainty training camps are pleasant nowadays.

What are your expectations of the players in the weeks until the restart?
First up I hope we avoid new injuries and that Bastian Schweinsteiger can resume the team programme in the course of the training camp. Basti has a little less further to go than Arjen Robben. But let’s wait and see. As for the rest, I hope to see intensity, concentration, focus and discipline, but also enjoyment and passion. The message is relatively easy: six of our first eight games are away from home! We need to hit the ground running, both physically and mentally.

In December Pep Guardiola said he was satisfied with the results and the way the team has come on. Are you equally satisfied?
After the huge success of last season we couldn’t necessarily expect such outstanding results in the first half of this season. It’s a truly great performance by the team and the coach. It was a new situation for everyone involved last summer. On the one hand we wanted to revel in our success, but on the other we knew we had to switch back to attacking mode at the start of the new season, and stay open to new developments after the arrival of a new coach. You have to change and develop if you want to repeat a success. Standing still might give you stability, but you go backwards.

Prior to the holidays the coach also warned the team there was a lot of hard work ahead. How much progress has he made in his first six months at the club in terms of realising his vision?
The process is still going on. We’ve all become acquainted with a vision of the game that can’t just be implemented overnight. Results are the important thing in the first place. Based on this foundation, we can work on the details, and understand the mechanics better and better. That’s what this training camp is about.

Three young reserves have made the trip to Qatar. What’s your advice to Julian Green, Alessandro Schöpf and Ylli Sallahi?
First of all it’s a signal from the coach and the club that we continue to believe in two pillars, established pros on the one hand and talented youngsters on the other. These three have put themselves forward and they’re coming along very well. We have faith in all three, but now it’s up to them. They have to go for it.