After finishing today’s training-Team Manager Finke  

Comment from Team Manager Volker Finke after finishing today’s training

First of all, it was not good weather for playing football, was it? (lol)

(Four front line players were frequently changing their positions during the match against FC Ryukyu yesterday. Was it something you had planned?)
We are training many things and I would like to improve the positioning of the team, which provides the foundation through repeated training and training matches. All the players of the team must understand how we play football. For this reason, we had four training matches in total during this camp and I made it possible for all players to play in those matches as much as they could.
As you all actually saw, yesterday’s match was played by the team members similar to so called “satellite team” in Japan. Main players who played in the match were very young with a few older experienced players. Both young and older players were shuffled to be on the pitch yesterday and today.
When we play against the Korean team (Ulsan Hyundai) the day after tomorrow, I would like to have many top players on the pitch just like when we had the first match during this Ibusuki camp. I am planning to put powerful players who have proven records in their positions on the pitch.
During the past few days, I had the opportunities to examine two field players who play for the Japan National Team. I think that Tulio and Tatsuya have proven that they are extremely important members of our team. I believe that having those two in our team further improved the quality of the team. I am sure that they will continue to perform outstandingly as indispensable members of our team in the future as well.

(Comparing the matches played yesterday and today, it seems as though the team had a better numerical advantage around the football ball during the match played today.)
I do not want to make a strategic and detailed comment at this moment. This is because those players who played in the match today also played in yesterday’s match for either 45 or 90 minutes. As such, I am certain that they were worn out when they were put on the pitch today. For this reason, I have no intention of making any strategic comments such as players played better today than yesterday or there were strategic improvements. Young players played in two matches in a row. This was because they would recover better and I assumed that they were able to play in matches two days in a row.
For this reason, I do not see much point in pondering over the team’s strategies or which match was better at this point in time.

(How much do you think the team achieved the football you envisage?)
It is difficult for me to answer the question clearly here at this point in time. What is important is for every player on the pitch to follow the same path and ascertain what type of football we are aiming to play. I think they are making progress little by little. Their performance fluctuates depending on the day. However, I believe that they are working on the idea of the new football quite positively.

(Genki Haraguchi is the only one who has been in the starting lineup for three matches in a row during the Ibusuki camp.)
There are no special intentions. However, as he is the youngest player of our team, I believe that he can recover quite well. Having said that, I do not think he can play for 90 minutes every day. But, I am sure he can cope with 45 minutes everyday. For this reason, I made him play in the matches hoping he would play at least for 45 minutes. For a player like him, it is important to have as many match experience on the pitch as possible. However, I also believe that giving the chance to have a good rest at the right time is vital. To be frank with you, Sergio was going to play as a starting lineup member for today’s match. But, due to the adductor muscle issue he has which was discovered through the medical check conducted beforehand, we decided it best to provide him a different program. For this reason, Genki was selected to be a starting lineup member. As such, there is no deeper meaning.

(Ponte also had a different program over the past two days.)
As it was raining quite hard today, we decided that there was no need for players to play outside in the rain. For this reason, he had training inside with 9 other players who did not play in the match. They worked on muscle building, football ball feeling, stability training etc. with Coach Tanko and Coach Neitzel. In regards to Ponte, he has been worn out. I also assume that he understands how much he should push himself as he is an experienced player. It is not like he has not had any training at all. We prepared him an appropriate program just like we did yesterday and he had been training according to the program. I think he will be able to participate in normal training again by the day after tomorrow at the latest.
Fundamentally speaking, from what I have observed so far, I feel that the forceful participation of injured players in a match or training has been glorified in Japan. Even in my country, Germany, when a player, for example, who got injured and broke his leg made an effort to play in a match was glorified for a long time in the past. However, I have a different opinion as this may exacerbate his injury and in a worst case, he may not be able to go back to the pitch for several months. For this reason, I request my players to know the needs of their own bodies and ask them to have good treatment without pushing themselves too far. I think they must be able to make a good decision of taking different training programs when they are injured. I repeatedly tell this to my team members and I would like to make it certain that my players don’t get injured unnecessarily in the future.

(Is Takahara the attacking key player? What do you think of him now compared to when he was in Germany?)
Speaking of him without any bias, I believe that he has had a good preparation period. I think he was able to prepare himself quite well during the off period. Fortunately, he managed to finish all the programs so far without any injuries. He did not perform well at every training match he had played in. However, he participated in normal training well and he has made a great improvement in regards to his condition as well as his play performance. In this sense, I have such a positive view about him. Having said that, there is no guarantee that he assumes the number one forward position in the team. I cannot rank the forward positions as number one, two or three. All I can say is that there are different types of forward players with different characteristics. As an instructor, it is interesting and pleasurable for us to work out how we can best utilize these different characteristics as well as form the team. What we should not forget at the same time is that how we can nurture the players’ individual characteristics as well as improve their levels. It is part of our important task to work out what we should do in regards to these issues.

(How are players in rehabilitation such as Naoki Yamada? How is Shunki Takahashi who was injured during the match?)
In regards to Naoki Yamada, I believe he can make a recovery very soon. We were informed that he injured his adductor muscle towards the end of the training match held the other day. However, judging by the today’s training, he has been making a good recovery. He is also doing well for the test with or without balls. I was informed that he would be able to fully participate in the team training in a few days.
As for the Shunki Takahashi, I heard that an opponent team member stepped on his foot very hard during the training held today. There is a high likelihood that he has a bruise and our medical staff members have been dealing with his case. Many related members have been working on him hoping for the recovery of Shunki such as putting some ice on his injury and raising his foot etc. For this reason, when the situation permits, he may even be able to return back to the team training. I hope his injury is a minor injury, which happened daily during playing football. I wish that the rehabilitation group remains to be small and the members who have training programs with the rehabilitation group are able to come back to the team training as soon as possible. Basically, there are currently 31 players and there were about 3 to 5 players who were not able to participate in the team training and had to have separate training programs.
I think this is the normal course of action to be taken when players are injured. I am very glad that the rehabilitation group did not grow bigger in size.

(Is tomorrow’s training match going to be the last match played against external teams before the opening of the J-League?)
Due to the club policy put in place, when and where we will have our training matches will be announced by the club at this moment. I think we will play in a training match next weekend however the details of the training match will be announced by the club. All I know is that there will be at least one match to be held next week end. According to my training schedule, we will be back at Saitama City on Thursday and we will have Friday off. Certainly, the rehabilitation group will be having separate personal training. We will have training on Saturday morning and a training match in the afternoon. I do not intend to make any changes to that schedule now.

(Are you going to decide on the members during the camp or you will make your decision by taking in the situation when the team returns to Urawa into consideration as well?)
When I first took the instruction position, I had a different approach. But, now, I make the decision by looking at the situation of the last few days before the opening. This is because players may get injured during training matches when you decide too early. We cannot predict what would happen. For this reason, I make the decision based on the last training match as well as the last few days situation.
I believe that there will not be huge differences between Japan (J-League) and Germany. There will be about 22 to 25 players who are involved in matches during the season. Out of those players, 15 to 17 will be playing for more than 20 matches. 5 to 8 players will play in almost all matches based on the notion that they are not injured. To be honest with you, I will decide the starting lineup members after the final training match as there will be a report made by the doctor.

(What was the reason for using the player, Kato as a field player during today match?)
The reason was very simple. There was another goal keeper who was able to play in the match as a field player and his name was Otani. I was thinking that if one more player got injured, I was planning to put Otani in as a field player. In my opinion, every goal keeper should be able to play in a match as a field player. For this reason, there was nothing strange about a goal keeper playing in a match as a field player especially when this was not an official match. Due to the well-known change in the back pass rule, they can no longer deal with the passes from the team players by hand. As such, they are required to play more in depth and goal keepers are requested to have the ability of a field player. There are no goal keepers at the International level who lack in the ability of a field player. When the opponent team makes an excellent and aggressive pressing, it is vital to have a goal keeper who has good foot skills. Otherwise, kicking long balls becomes necessary. When a goal keeper has the skill of a field player, it is possible to utilize him as the 11th field player and we can pass the ball to him as well. This allows the team to have more strategies. For this reason, goal keepers are now required to have such skills. I answered this question quite in detail. I believe that there will be several occasions that goal keepers are utilized as I have explained during training in the future.