The day before the J. League Second Sec.–Team Manager Finke  

Comment from Team Manager Volker Finke on the day before the 2009 season
J. League second sec. against FC Tokyo

This week, I came up with the training programs that focused on the elements that were necessary for the team to play in official matches so that the team could grow further. The team worked on such training programs this week. We certainly had to reflect on the points we lost during the last match. However, I think that the two points we lost had nothing to do with what style the team played the game or what formation the team had to play the game. Of course, I have already talked with players about that. I think what is important is to prepare ourselves well for the next match with a positive attitude.
For this reason, the team worked on the training this week towards next weekend’s match. I do not intend to comment much on FC Tokyo. I believe you have detailed information about the team as you have been observing matches played by FC Tokyo for many years. FC Tokyo did better than we did during the last season. As such, it is necessary for us to have high concentration and motivation to play against the team for the up coming match. I do not plan to say that we would like to win the match as it is obvious. I do not think it is necessary for me to make any comment in this regard.

(In today’s training, Nobuhisa Yamada was playing as right full back and Hosogai was playing as the left full back.)
Hosogai sometimes played as a side full back in training matches during our preparation period. Nobuhisa Yamada played as a right side back player in the past depending on the way the match took its course. For this reason, not everything was a completely new experience for each player. What I can say clearly is that I want to fill side back positions well by placing the right players from the team. I have not made the decision yet as to whether or not to have the type of formation we had today.

(How about Hosogai assuming the left side back position?)
I talked about that only with players (lol). Hosogai sometimes played as a side back player last year. When the Urawa Reds changed the system from three back to four back, he played as a side full back as well. Fundamentally speaking, Hosogai is a defense mid fielder player. However, he can play in many different defense positions. As one of the team’s strategies, when we want more defenses on one side, we can place players focusing on left or right. By doing so, we can strengthen the defense of the team. I talked with Hosogai about this and I also listened to his opinion. In the end, he understood my intention and participated in the training we had today.

(Hirakawa was in the yellow vest team that was not regarded as a main team.)
Please do not read into things too much. Hirakawa was in the same team as Tulio and Tsuboi yesterday when we had a closed training session.

(What is your impression about Saitama Stadium?)
I went to Saitama Stadium only once in the past when a match was actually held there. I had a good impression at that time as supporters were cheering the team really hard till the end of the match. I am delighted that we can have the second sec. match in Saitama Stadium for the first time with our passionate supporters. I am very much looking forward to it.

(What are you looking forward to in regards to the supporters’ cheer?)
I would like to concentrate on what I can do as team manager, which is the team’s performance on the pitch and how the players play. Obviously, I would like the players on the pitch to be highly motivated and to show their concentration on their performance. I am sure that the supporters in Saitama Stadium will be inspired by such performances of the players and will feel that they too will cheer the team with high motivation just like the team. When this happens I believe that we can show the rest of Japan that the team and the supporters are working as one to pursue a new soccer style.
It is of course very difficult to have a good result right away. It takes a long time to put the new soccer style into practice. That being said, players are working very hard for the new style of soccer. As they are making efforts every day, I hope that supporters can also work together with us to achieve this goal in the long run. It is certainly difficult to put everything into practice. However, we will try to do as much as we can to have many more winning points when we play home matches compared to away matches. As far as I remember, the data from last year showed the team scored more goals in away matches than home matches with twenty five points. However, home matches are the matches for the Urawa Reds. For this reason, we will try to score as many as we can in home matches so that we can share great joy with our supporters at the home stadium.

(How is Alex’s condition after returning to the team training?)
I think he is an excellent player with good personality. I highly regard his strategic mind as well as his left foot that can make high quality passes. However, he needs to endure a little more. He once joined the team training during the camp and then left the team training again. He left the team twice since I became the team manager. It still takes a long time for him. If he is in good physical condition and can play in matches in the way that is good for his strategy, then that would certainly benefit the team. However, he is not yet in such condition. I think it is necessary for us to give Alex as much support as we can as a team together with staff members so that he can play in as many official matches as possible.
We should not forget about not only Alex but also Tsutsumi who will be joining the team training mid way through during this season after recovering from a major injury. I have high expectations of him doing well as a side full back.

(Are you planning to make the training on the day before the match public?)
I am well aware of the request made by the club not to make training sessions closed. At this point, I only make Thursday’s training session closed. I think Thursday’s training will remain closed to public in the future. As for the training held on Fridays, I do not think it is good to change many things in haste.
I would like to make the decision by looking at how things are. I cannot say that things will remain to be the same. Looking at the situations with many different clubs in Europe, it is very rare for the final training before an official much to be open for the public to watch. The fact that even the final training before an official much is open for the public in Japan is, I believe, to benefit not only supporters but also the press as part of providing a good service to them. Everyone can listen to what I will say to my team on the pitch during the final training session before an official match. You can all listen to what players are discussing and what the team manager is saying to the players. I think this is very rare internationally.

(Players who are likely to be playing in the match did not have a vest on.)
I certainly did that intentionally. This is because we are the Urawa Reds. Urawa Reds players wear red uniforms. For this reason, I thought that the players who were likely to be playing in the match should ware red training wares rather than yellow vests. This is why I handed a yellow vest to those players who were not likely to play in the match. I will certainly try to consider many things from now as well. There will be many reasons for handing what color vest to whom.
Fundamentally speaking, we should not forget that there will be virtually no situations, which will be repeated when playing soccer. It is completely different from a dress rehearsal of an orchestra. We cannot train ourselves for every situation in advance. This is because what happens on the pitch is different every time. What happened last week does not necessarily happen again this week. Ambitious players who try to learn many things are admirable. However, they should not forget to keep thinking. Once players are on the pitch, they should have solutions for any possible situations. For this reason, they must be able to think by themselves. I think it is actually quite difficult for players to reproduce what they learnt during training on the pitch. Especially it seems to be that way in Japan. I think it is important to actually learn everything during training in advance so that players will have solutions at hand whenever they are required. However, what is more important is the ability to think.
I once talked with the team manager of the Bundesliga in Germany. One team manger trained his team focusing on set-plays for two months. However, even though the team had the two months training, they could not have good results. As such, the team manger stoped the set-play training for three months. However, after the team stopped the set-play training, the team scored goals in three matches in a row. These types of things happen when playing soccer. We cannot plan everything in advance. If we can have a dress rehearsal for everything that will happen on the pitch in advance, then soccer would not be such an interesting sport.

(How do you feel about Tulio playing in the offensive?)
I think it is important for a capable player to demonstrate his strength and unique ability as part of the team at the right time. Tulio has an excellent strategic mind and he can read the flow of a match. I think he has great techniques and he can shoot long distance passes. For this reason, whenever he is playing in offense, either Abe or Keita always comes back to fill his position and this is what we decided to do. I will continue to train the team to be able to do this at the right moment from now on as well.
There have been a number of articles in several sports newspaper that said that I, the team manager, am not keen on the idea of having Tulio in defense up until now including the time when Tulio was in the national team. To be honest with you, I have no idea as to where they got such an idea. This is because I believe in the idea of utilizing the strengths of players for the benefit of the team. In regards to Tulio, I have never limited what he should not do. What I have always said is it is important to demonstrate the strength of each individual as part of a team at the right moment.
Tulio had an operation during the winter break. I hope he can participate in the daily training sessions for the next two to three weeks without having another injury. If he can do that, I am sure he can improve his condition and therefore I can expect even better performance from him.