Ulreich: ‘That’s why it’s easier for me to deal with all the pain’
Sven Ulreich established himself in the hearts of the Bayern fans with his performances last season and accordingly was voted Player of the Season. After a well-deserved holiday, the 29-year-old has been back on the pitch more than two weeks and is working hard to repeat the performance levels of last term. But the goalkeeper is aware he will be second choice to Manuel Neuer in the coming campaign. Ulreich spoke to fcbayern.com about the situation, his goalkeeping coach and who has it harder in pre-season: outfield players or goalkeepers.
The interview with Sven Ulreich
The first two weeks of the pre-season are over. How are you feeling?
Sven Ulreich: "The two days break at the start of the week of helped us to recover. Up to then it was very strenuous and we all put in a shift. But that's what you have to do in pre-season."
During these sessions do you sometimes think about your holiday and wish you were still there?
Ulreich: "Holidays are always good if you have time for you and the family. Over the past few days I have thought about how nice it would be to be in a deck chair. But I've also really looked forward to getting going again. It's fun being back on the training ground. That's my passion. That's why it's easier for me to deal with the pain."
Thanks to your impressive performances you were elected Player of the Season last term with almost a third of the votes from Bayern fans. What does that mean to you?
Ulreich: "Of course, I'm happy about it. There are so many top players at FC Bayern. And it's a great honour to get that award from the fans. It makes me proud."
You've been in Munich for three years and have continuously improved over that time. Part of that is obviously down to Toni Tapalovic. What's it like working with him?
Ulreich: "Toni is a great bloke. I've got on brilliantly with him since day one. He's showed me loads of videos and invested a lot of time in me. It was worth it. I'm still working to improve myself and there are certain areas of fine tuning. He's a great goalkeeping coach and it's fun working with him. He brings the right mix of ease and focused work. He has definitely played a big part in my development."
What were the main areas covered in training?
Ulreich: "At the start he stayed behind with me after training because the normal session was not long enough to deal with everything we needed to do. We particularly worked on finishing. We recorded it on video. It's always better to see yourself to understand everything. It takes a lot of time."
You always said that you will be second-in-line behind Manuel Neuer as soon as he comes back in spite of your performances of last season. Is that really so easy?
Ulreich: "I know my role. I was really happy to play more often. It was great to play in the team this season. But I know that Manu is the world's best goalkeeper. You can see every day that he's a great keeper. That's why I'm ready to be the number two but I will still give my all. I always hope I can get to play one or two games to maintain rhythm."
What's changed for you under the new coach? The daily routine is definitely different.
Ulreich: "At the moment, we're training twice a day. We'll see what happens during the season. Not much changes for a goalkeeper compared with an outfield player. There are a couple of new tactical ideas but the goalkeeping coach is more important for the goalkeeper. And the head coach also has ideas of what he expects from the goalkeeper. That's why little has changed except for the training session times and intensity."
Recently one of your team-mates said onto the way into the dressing room: "I'll be a goalkeeper in my next life." If you see what your team-mates have to do at the moment then do you think: Fortunately I'm a keeper?
Ulreich: "I'm not much of a runner so I'm glad I don't have to do much running. But I think if they had to do two hours of goalkeeping training then they wouldn't be that happy either. You can feel it in your bones and muscles if you do 200 to 300 jumps. Then they would definitely fire shots at the keeper from three metres regardless of the cost. (he laughs)"
Those words demonstrate that the mood is good despite all the hard work?
Ulreich: "It's all part of it. Footballers always complain about it being tiring. But we know it's part of it so the atmosphere is still good - and little digs are normal."
You also know why you're going through the pain.
Ulreich: "Of course, you do it to be successful. Titles are the target and it all starts from the beginning each season. The foundations are laid in the pre-season. If we are fit and play our usual, solid game then it will difficult for the other teams."
The first pre-season friendly is at the weekend against a top opponent in Paris Saint-Germain. What are you expecting from the game?
Ulreich: "The first game is there to get back into the routines. It's a good test and we can try new things even if our legs get heavy. The same goes for PSG. We have some interesting friendlies in the coming weeks."
The next matches are in the USA against Juventus and Manchester City.
Ulreich: "I'm already looking forward to it. It's great to test yourself against teams like that."
What are you expecting in general from the Audi Summer Tour? You were there two years ago.
Ulreich: "The USA is always worth a visit. I'm looking forward to good games and good training sessions. We will gain lots of new impressions of this country. I love America, it's wide open spaces and the people. That's why I'm looking forward to the trip."