Finishing the Ibusuki training camp-Team Manager Finke  

Team Manager Volker Finke-After finishing the Ibusuki training camp

What I can say at this point in time is that I have been able to work well in collaboration with the new team and the new team of trainers. I believe that we will be able to stand on the pitch in such a good mood at the opening match of the J-League and we can have good results as long as we maintain the way we are. I am sure there is a long way ahead of us. At the moment, we are in the middle of the road. I can say right now that though we are moving forward, the road is not necessary paved in a way that we can walk easily. Sometimes, there may be a huge rock ahead of us and we need to overcome such challenges. However, I get the feeling at the moment that the entire team has the strong will to move forward to attain a big goal and I am content with that.
I was also informed by the medical team that Nobuhisa Yamada and Tsukasa Umesaki are very much likely to join the team training from next week. Naoki Yamada joined the team today and so did Shunki Takahashi. Escudero still requires more treatment and therefore is not able to work on some of the team training programs together with the team. But, I am certain that he will be an indispensable member of the team once he makes a full physical recovery. There are thirty one players in our team right now. Out of them, there were about five or six players who could not participate in team training programs. Based on my past experiences, this number is quite small out of thirty one players. I am happy with the fact that only a few players have been injured.
It was the final day of the Ibusuki training camp today and I feel grateful to the staff members of each team such as the medical, PR and material teams. They have done an excellent job. I have been able to feel their strong will that they want to work in collaboration and support creating a new team in the process of building up the team. Everyone is well aware of the fact that Reds did not perform their best during the last season and I can feel that everyone is trying to work as one.

(Mobile phones and walkie-talkies are allowed during official J-League matches at the bench from this season onwards. Are you planning to utilize them?)
I do not want to comment on it publicly yet. I can say now that when I was in Germany about seven or eight years ago, I introduced the idea of showing the recorded image of players’ performance during the first half of games at half time while giving instructions to players as to how they can improve their performance. It was probably the first time for a team that belongs to the German Soccer Association to do such a thing. However, I did not inform media about this at that time. The reason why I can tell you about this now is that it has been such a long time since that happened. Therefore, I may tell you in the future that we did use wireless devices in the past.
Basically, I believe that one of the coaching staff members should watch matches from a different perspective. Usually, it will be from the stadium stand. This is because it is easier for us to observe what happens on the pitch especially in regards to tactical moves.

(Could you be more specific about showing recorded images of players’ performances to them?)
One of the coaching staff always recorded matches. When I thought that I would like to explain particular points, I had some staff on the bench to jot down the time and asked them to set up the recorded footage I specified so that players can see the images during halftime. I had always done that since about seven or eight years ago.
However, if players were given too much information during the half time, they may find it too stressful. As such, I only showed what was really important. Usually, I only showed one image or two at most. By using recorded images, it became easier for players to know what they had to address and it made it easier for me to explain what they had to do during the second half. However, players have to prepare themselves for the second half such as change their uniforms and drink some water. For this reason, rather than spending too much time on showing them some recorded images, I let my team do whatever they usually had to do during half time first. Then, I showed my players some footage and explained some points in a short period of time. This was what I had been doing over the years.
However, this was not welcomed by referees. For example, when they made a debatable decision, we can check whether or not the referee’s judgment was right. Referees felt that the chief referee might be put under various pressures during the second half. Having said that referees could not stop what we were doing.
(How much do you think the team has ascertained the tactics so far?)
It will be difficult and will take some time for the team to learn our new methods and actually put them into practice completely. This is because if they try to play combination soccer, the chance of them losing the ball will increase in numbers. This is only natural. Therefore, I won’t accuse my players every time on this ground.
When the team puts more focus on a strong defense and tries to score goals without having too many passes by making a quick shift from defense to offence, the number of occasions when the team loses the ball will probably decrease in numbers. When this is the case, as they have good defense, the team may feel somewhat secure even when they lose the ball. However, we are now trying to play combination soccer intentionally. When we have more passes by playing combination soccer, the ball will likely to remain within the team more. When the ball remains within the team for around sixty or seventy percent of the time, the number of them making mistakes during passes will also increase and therefore the chance of them losing the ball increases. The question is should we criticize every time the team lose the ball or rather should we praise the team for attempting to intentionally create some chances of winning the ball. It depends on how you see it. For this reason, when the team makes lots of mistakes during passes, it does not mean that the team is not achieving what we are trying to achieve. What is important here is that we continue to work hard on our training every day to put our philosophy into real practice.
What I will say from now may sound rather strange but I would like to tell you honestly in advance that I am quite concerned about the fact that the team never lost the training matches we played during our long preparation period so far. I believe that our team should lose at least once during the preparation period. This is because such teams have made a better result during soccer seasons in the past based on my experience. This may be too much to ask but we have not even finished a game with a draw. If possible, we will be able to lose the match at last at the next weekend match. We will work hard to lose the game that time (lol).

(How much have you taught the team the type of combination play you hope for the team to achieve so far?)
First of all, soccer is the type of sport during which you cannot necessary calculate the next move. Having lots of training practice does not equate to winning games. As such, you cannot judge how the team will be just by the amount of practice they have had. Certainly, we have the path that we want to follow and the goal we have set. However, when we achieve the goal, there will always be another goal to aim for. As this is the case, it is very difficult to put in tangible figures how much the team ascertained what I have taught them. When players recover from their injuries, they often say that they have recovered about seventy percent or their body is about eighty percent ready.
However, in reality, it is quite difficult to describe in figures how much the team perfected itself as a whole or how much players understood the tactics they learnt. I do not think it is impossible to bring a team to its 100 percent perfection level. If anyone knows how to do this, chances are a soccer team of an autocratic nation under a strong dictator will probably win the World Cup. Some elements that cannot be described in figures will always come into soccer. We cannot read opponent teams’ moves and we cannot tell how our condition will be on the day of a match. For this reason, it is very difficult to answer your question.

(After the training, the team lined up in circle and discussed something. Could you comment on what the team was discussing if possible?)
I thanked everyone for working well together as a team in a professional manner. At the same time, I told the team that they should feel grateful to the staff working hard behind the scene to make this camp successful. I told them that they should appreciate this very fact. After that, I showed my appreciation to the two green keepers who look after the soccer field. They did an excellent job. This was evident by the fact that the pitch condition was always really good even though we had lots of training sessions on the field during a short period of time.