The day before the J-League opening match-Team Manager Finke  

Comment from Team Manager Volker Finke on the day before the 2009 season
J-League opening match

It is easy to explain the situation for the match tomorrow. We started to prepare ourselves from a very early stage and we have spent a long time to prepare for the season well. We are going to tackle this season in a different way with a new play style with a different formation which will be the base for our team. It surely takes a long time to change the way we play. Everything will not necessarily go well from the first match we play. The Kashima Antlers is a wonderful team. The team has a good track record and they won the victory last year. I think it is very good for us to be given the opportunity to play with such a team and to try out the new play style on an away ground for our first match. The Kashima Antlers certainly has a long good track record and we will be an outsider for tomorrow’s match. However, as this is the case, we would like to play even better to have a good result.
(Do you feel anything special as it will be the first match for you to lead the new team?)
I experienced a total of 600 matches in Germany with 400 matches in the premier league and 200 matches in the second league. After having had such experiences, this is the first time for me to start a new season in a foreign country. As such, I am having a sense of nervousness in a good way. I also feel a good energy for starting a fresh journey in a new country. I think this means that I am emotionally well prepared to start the new season.
(What would you like to challenge during the match tomorrow?)
It is certainly quite difficult to predict the result in advance. As it is often the case with soccer, I can not tell what the result will be for tomorrow’s match. However, we can have our influence over one thing and that is our own performance. As we had good training, I think players will be able to have a good opening. I hope that we will be able to show our good performance during the away match against the Kashima Antlers and to have as good result as possible. However, since it will be difficult to predict the result in advance, all we can do is to put our good preparation we had into practice to have a good performance.
Yesterday, I read an article about the team. It said that veteran players organized some drinking get-togethers for the team and this helped to unite the unique individual players together. This seems to be the reality of the team. As such, I bought a barrel of Japanese sake this morning. I would like to drink the sake with all the team members together to have a good result. I will do anything for the team’s success (lol). It seems as though the team did not drink much alcohol last year as they did not have a successful result.
(What do you think about the Kashima Antlers, with which your team will play against?)
It seems that each member of the team knows each other quite well and the team is well united as one. All the members of the team who are on the pitch seem to understand who would be free in what way and who would run in which direction etc. and as a result the team is well-organized and unified. For example, the two forward players seem to know each other’s characteristics and they know how the other player responds when one runs into a space. The Antlers has a good system as their base and functions really well as a team. Therefore, I do not think it was a mere coincidence that the team won during the seasons till last year. They must have gone through a certain process to be able to make good results. I certainly respect them. Though no matter how much I respect the opponent, there is no way that we will give them some wining points. As they are worthy of the respect, we must brace our nerves to play against them.
(What points are to be raised to win the game?)
If those points are revealed in advance in the newspaper, it will bring us a really bad defeat.)
(What is your idea of deploying young players in a big match?)
I do not think about factors such as the opening match, a match against a prestigious team and young players when I decide the starting line-up members. To me, what is important is how players have performed over the last four weeks. I decide the starting line-up members based on this. There are many other players and some of them have not yet reached their full potential in terms of their conditions. As I will decide the starting line-up members based on my players’ current condition, I do not take the fact whether or not it is the opening match or that players are young into consideration.
(How is Tulio’s condition?)
I am not too worried about his condition at this moment. As a matter of fact, he was able to participate in the team training on Thursday and he also went through his own training program on Wednesday when the team had the day off. He has had as much training as his muscle condition allowed himself. By observing the training we had today, I do not think he has a major discomfort. For this reason, I do not think there will be any issue in selecting him for the weekend. However, fundamentally speaking, the problem he has at the moment is not the muscle discomfort he ascertained over the past few days. I think it is more substantial than that. At the end of the last season, he had an operation. He joined the team’s preparation period after going through the rehabilitation. Certainly, he had to join the Japanese national team, to which we give our utmost support, at an early stage to play in matches and the match against Australia. For this reason, he could not participate in the training our club had to establish our physical foundation during the preparation period. The training he has had was different from that of other members of the club in many regards. As this is the case, it cannot be helped that his condition is a little bit different. However, this does not mean that he had a serious injury and cannot play in matches. I think there will be no worries over selecting him to play in the match this weekend.
(Please extend some message to supporters.)
When we start our long journey, we need to prepare ourselves well. Not everything goes smoothly. However, I want everyone in my team to be well prepared so that we have some solutions when we face some difficulties during the journey. I hope we can start our journey, the new season with solutions in our hands. What is important is we can transfer, when we have to transfer.