Eighth day at Miyazaki training camp-Team Manager Finke   

Comment from Team Manager Finke after finishing the eighth day of the Miyazaki training camp
For our spectators, today’s match was probably not a fun game to watch. It was not a fun or easy game for our team players either. It was because they had to play when they were extremely worn out. They had to go through hard training program sessions for the past eight days. When I calculated, it turned out that for those players who took part in every training session, they ran more than 140km. As such, it was obvious that they were extremely tired. When they have to play in a practice match under such conditions, you must expect to see such a performance as you saw today.
As a team manager, I must contemplate on the benefit of having practice matches under such circumstances. I basically agree with the idea of having practice matches even in this kind of situation. When I was in Germany, I actively sought to have training matches under similar conditions. But, you have to keep in mind that teams we played against there were amateur teams in a lower league and of a lower level than the team we played against today. When we play against such teams, we don’t lose the games even when we are extremely tired. It also provides amateur players and general supporters the opportunity to play with professional players. It also helps me to find out which team players possess a strong will when they have to play under such physically straining conditions. It is interesting for me to see how players play and how they try to play lightly when they are worn out or under pressure.
For this reason, for any training matches my team played in the past around this time, I never charged any admission fee. Sometimes armature teams have to pay in order to play against professional teams. However, I never asked for any fee under this type of situation. This was because my players were not able to play under their best conditions. It is not fair for our spectators if they had to pay to watch my players in such circumstances.
As I said earlier, it is tough for players to play when they are physically strained. However, I can assess their mental strength seeing how they play with such a burden.
My team players were all playing relatively well during today’s match. Even though Haraguchi had a slight bruise, no one else had any injuries. No players have had major injuries in this camp so far and I am confident that we can continue to practice as we originally planned for the rest of the camp. I am planning to have one more cross country session in the woods and at least one more game style practice.
Urawa Reds was the first team to start practice among J-League teams. One of the reasons for this is that I want to give my team players a solid three days off after this camp. Team players will be able to recover physically and mentally and they can adjust their physical condition well during these three days so that they will be fully ready for the next phase of their practice. We will complete our physical training during this camp and we will start our strategic practice from February.

(Please comment on Tulio’s participation in the practice match.)
Tulio is an eminent player with firm positioning and a strategic mind who can also play good passes. As he made a comeback, he will now participate in game style practice as well. As in today’s match, our players played against the opponent like they did, it must have been less stressful for a center back player like him compare to the type of game style practice I am planning.
Tulio had better condition than the other players today. However, this does not mean that his physical condition has necessarily improved. It rather means that Tulio has had fewer burdens from his own rehabilitation practice sessions whereas the other team members have had more burdens from their practice sessions. As such, it might have seemed as though Tulio had performed better on the pitch than the rest of the team players today. But, this was because the other team players were totally exhausted. Tulio is a very important team member for Urawa Reds as well as for the National Team. What our team players are doing at the moment as a team is to prepare for the J-League starting from 7 March so that we play well for this season this year. I mentioned earlier that players ran 140km but running 140km this week does not mean much if they are doing it just for the match held on 11 February. Given that, if Tulio wants to play in the match against Australia, he needs to have a different type of practice schedule.

(You seem to have the idea of attacking the opponent teams by having short passes. What do you think of Tulio’s long passes?)
Tackling our opponents by having short passes is certainly one of the strategies that I have. But, obviously, short pass is not the only way to tackle the opponent teams. In Germany, we say that after three short passes, the forth pass should be a long pass. It is effective and meaningful to have a long pass if it is passed in the right direction when the time is right. Of course, short passes must be the way to go but it does not mean players cannot make long passes. We sometimes keep playing short passes so that we can make an effective long pass in the end.
In our mind, there is no intention for a center back player who received a pass from the goal keeper to make a long pass. Players must keep using short passes and use long passes effectively when the timing is right. There is no contradiction in what I am trying to say. There are no short passes without long passes and vice versa. The important thing is to maintain a balance between the two.
Tulio is a capable player and he is important to our team. But, at the same time, I understand that he has his mind on the match against Australia. I will be very happy if Tulio and Tatsuya can play in the match against Australia and lead the National Team so that they can play in the World Cup. This is important for the National Team not to mention for the future of Japanese soccer. It also means a lot for our players to be able to play in the World Cup.
Once the match against Australia is over, they will return to our team and they will be able to join our team’s play. I assume that Tulio as well as Abe won’t be able to play in the National Team’s match this time due to their injuries. Instead, they will train themselves in our team to establish a good foundation for this season.
I talked with the Team Manager of the National Team, Okada over the phone the other day. Though I can not comment on what we discussed at that time, we had such a positive conversation. I am certain that Urawa Reds players will be chosen to be in the National Team in the future as well. As such, there will be close contact between us and I would like to personally wish the best for the National Team. I also believe that it is very important for the National Team players to have their team managers exchange information with their home team managers.
(Are you planning to have a special training program for Tulio and are you going to let him play in the match against Australia?)
If he can improve his condition like he has so far, he will be joining the National Team’s training camp relatively early. He will prepare himself for the match with the National Team. However, if he starts to experience some pain again or if he does not recover well, it will be a different story.

(You set the consolidation and the unity of the team as one of the goals for this camp. Has this goal been achieved so far?)
As far as I can see, the team is going in the right direction. All players have high and positive motivation and the team started to move forward as one.
I also think that not only the players but also all the concerned parties such as coaching staff, equipment staff and medical staff members are moving in one direction together. For this reason, I regard this camp as a great success.
However, I may be wrong thinking this way as I do not fully understand Japanese mentality (lol). If what I have seen during this camp is something natural among Japanese people such as their attitude and the high motivation of the players and the staff members towards their tasks, it is a pleasant discovery for me. At the same time, I pay my great respect to them as Japanese people’s attitude towards their work is something very admirable.

(The team’s camp in Australia is now cancelled.)
I made the decision after collecting detailed information. I had pictures showing the ground condition of the Australian camp site in detail sent to me. It turned out that the ground condition was not the best. I also contemplated on the travel time between our accommodation and the ground and learnt that the site was not as ideal as I originally thought. We decided to choose a different training camp site. We were originally considering the option of having the camp in Europe. However, we thought that having the issues of time difference and travel time etc. would take time away from the team’s practice. For that reason, we decided to consider Australia as our camp destination with much less time difference and travel time. But, after the research, we canceled the option due to the reasons I have just mentioned.