The day before the J. League Twelfth Sec.-Team Manager Finke  

Comment from Team Manager Volker Finke on the day before the 2009 season J. League Twelfth Sec. against Gamba Osaka
We have been able to prepare ourselves better for playing the match this week compared to last week as we had two more days of training. Since we are playing different football from this season, we need to have as much training time as possible. In this regard, it was good to have two extra days of training this week.
I think that players participate in our team training every day with high motivation and strong will. I really appreciate them highly in this regard.
However, we do not have three players currently namely Tsukasa Umesaki, Ponte and Tatsuya Tanaka. It is very unfortunate that we do not have our main players like them and it is taking a toll on us. But, we cannot just cry about that here. I hope that our other players will make every effort to play well. We will be playing against one of the highest level teams in Japan currently over the weekend. I think you can expect to see a very high level match this weekend.

(When do you think Tastuya Tanaka will be able to come back?)
I cannot comment on that question in details as I am not the one who is injured (lol). I would like to give him enough time to prepare. If he gets injured again as a result of coming back to the team in haste, it will not do any justice for him or the club, not to mention the national team. I would like to give him enough time so that he can play without any injuries for a few month after he recovers from his injury. This will be good for the club as well as the national team. I do not think it is a good idea for him to take a risk by coming back to the team too early. He is not in the position of joining the team training at the moment under the current situation and I assume it will take a while for him to recover. As such, I have no intention of rushing him or to make him come back to the team earlier than planned.

(Did you communicate with the Japan Football Association in this regard?)
I believe I maintain good communication with the association. However, the press people may have more information about the association.

(You said once before that it would require players the same amount of time they spent off for their preparation to recover. If this is the case, will it take Tatsuya Tanaka more than one month of preparation even when he can come back to the team during this season as he has currently had nearly a one month off?)
I cannot make a solid comment publicly as to how many weeks it would take for him to come back. I do not see a real point in setting a time frame as such either. I collected all data relating to him before he joined the team such as the number of matches he played in as well as the period he played and was away due to injuries and so on. I am sure that you are all aware of what had happened to him over the past few years.
This time, he really wishes to get back to a condition in which he will be free from injury for at least several months rather than getting a series of minor injuries a few weeks after his recovery like he did in the past. I think it is important to respect his physical condition. If he gets injured again by us forcing him to come back, it will not be good for all parties concerned.
As you know, currently he is not in the position of joining the team training. He cannot run with a speed even during his individual training programs. He is not working on his instantaneous force either. He is just working on building up his stamina. As this is his current situation, he is not in the position of joining our team training or game style training without going through training on instantaneous force.
When he comes back to the team, he may be able to play in an official match before spending six weeks on preparation. However, we must think of how effectively he can get back onto his recovery track. He is still working on his stamina building. I think he will be able to join our team training after he works on his instantaneous force and increases his capacity for burden.
Considering our current situation, I, as a team manager, would like him to recover straight away. Since we do not have enough attackers as Ponte and Umesaki are also away due to their injuries, we certainly need Tatsuya right away if he can come back to the team immediately. However, I have no intention of putting pressure on him.
This is because treating his injury is important. Of course, there are some situations surrounding the team, however, we should not force him to come back despite his situation.
Currently, our young players are playing for the team. Certainly they need to gain more experience. They are not being able to show high level performance constantly. This is because they are still young. For this reason, we perhaps need Tatsuya Tanaka the most right at this moment during this season. However, I do not plan to force his recovery. Please check his record over the past few years by yourself as well. It shows that he was not able to participate in all the preparation training he had for a solid six weeks because of his injuries over the past few years.

(What are the implications for your team playing against Gamba Osaka this season as Gamba also aims to play similar football that involves many passes like Reds does?)
I must note the importance of us having 23 points already. For this reason, our match against them will not be played under the high pressure of earning three points not matter what. I think our team has been able to earn some time by having 23 points. We have changed our training schedule, preparation style as well as our play style on the pitch significantly from this season. For this reason, it will take some time for all the players to get used to the new method and being able to perform naturally on the pitch with the new style. Of course, we would like to score as many goals as we can during the match against Gamba Osaka this time. However, we are not in the pressing situation of having to score three points against them no matter what. To be honest with you, it would be better if we could play against the strongest team of the J. League at the end of the season. However, it is not me who works out the match schedule (lol).
I watched the match Reds played at the end of the previous season. If I had to bet on the idea of “Reds being able to score 23 points by the eleventh sec without having any new players”, I would not have bet at all (lol). I think the team had a low chance of that then.

(Reds will play against Kashima Antlers in the final sec. Do you regard Gamba Osaka as a more formidable rival than Kashima Antlers?)
I would like to make a diplomatic comment here. When we played against Kashima Antlers for our opening match, we lost the match as we did. However, considering the actual content of the game, it was not like we necessarily lost the game. For this reason, I am very much looking forward to playing against Kashima Antlers again in our home stadium. It will also be interesting to see how much the team develops until then.
I heard just then that Reds played against Gamba Osaka four times last year. We had one draw but lost the rest of the matches. For this reason, we would like to have a better result against them this year.

(You said that Gamba Osaka is “the highest level team in Japan”. What makes you think that?)
There are several important elements to this such as they can build a good game from behind, they have good defense when they lose the ball, all their players make efforts as well they have a strong will to play well around the goal area and so on.
I saw their matches several times including two J. League matches and an ACL match. I thought that they were trying to play a high level football for every time they played. They struggled at times during the J. League. Nonetheless, what they play is one of the best types of football in the J. League. I found how they build up their game from behind once they have the ball especially interesting. I also think they have a good defense organization.
What I value highly is how they try to create scoring opportunities when they come to their opponents’ penalty area rather than forcing to strike a goal shot. They seldom try to strike a shot when they are not in the position or when they do not have a chance of scoring a goal. I value them trying to create scoring opportunities through good combination plays around their opponent’s penalty area.

(Are there any similarities in Reds’ and Gamba’s approaches of tackling the game around the penalty area? What differences does Reds have compared to Gamba Osaka?)
As it is before playing a match against them, I cannot make a detailed comment about strategies. There are certainly some similarities in the way we play games. I am sure we have something in common as well. However, as far as I can see, there are some differences between us as well. Having said this, we should not forget what kind of players we have in our team and who can play on the pitch.
The football we will play changes depending on the number of players who are away because of their injuries as well as the physical condition of the players who will play on the pitch.
In the case of Gamba Osaka, for example, I think Lucas often plays in the mid field position a few steps behind forward players. I think he does his job in his position well. In our case, we change the way we play our game a little depending on whether Ponte can play on the pitch or not. At the risk of repeating myself, I would like to say that a football match is different from a concert in which players play what I request them to play. When playing football, we must take our current situation into consideration.
As it also happens often when playing football, what players practiced over and over again does not work on the day of an official match. This is due to the physical conditions of players or certain members being away from the team due to their injuries and so on. But, it is possible to get 1 or even 3 points at times even under such situations when players have high motivation or energetic play. Either way, it is impossible to fully conduct what we practiced during our training when playing football.

(In recent years, Reds vs Gamba matches are regarded as “national derbys” and there are many other reasons for this heated excitement. Do you prepare for such matches in a special way?)
I personally did not know that this match combination has such significance. I watched the Reds away match against Gamba last year. However, as I was paying my full attention to the performance of players, I was not aware of the heated excitement off the pitch. As we still have to work on and improve so many more points during this season, my discussion with the players focused on working out such points. For this reason, I would like to remain concentrated on what the team has to do rather than paying too much attention to how our game against Gamba is perceived externally such as being referred to as a “national derby”.

(In the play against Kawasai Frontale, the team seemed to have struggled physically due to the hot weather. What needs to be improved?)
What you pointed out is partly correct. As we were leading the game with the score of 2 to 1, if we had put a little more thought into how we conducted the game and if we had been able to pass the ball around more effectively, it would have been possible for us to gain 3 points. However, we lost three points like the way we did. In regards to the second and third points we lost, we might have got away with it had it not been for the fatigue players suffered.
Ultimately, we lost the game. Nonetheless, I did not think we played badly. As for the second half of the game, if we had been able to put a little more thought into how we conducted the game, we would have been able to win three points.

(Reds has been loosing some goals over the past few matches including the match played against Kawasaki Frontale.)
I think what I said earlier in response to the previous question has partly provided the answer to the question. It is certainly true that we made mistakes in terms of our defense. Had it not been for the fatigue players suffered, we might have made no mistakes. We also made some mistakes with our judgment. Our players were also one step behind due to their fatigue.
Due to a number of reasons, we unfortunately lost several goals. However, we must consider the situation of each player. Those players who played in every game might have made mistakes because of their exhaustion. However, we would like to work on that point as much as possible from now. If each player can minimize the number of mistakes he makes, we will be able to keep our loss of goals to a minimum. Nonetheless, the previous match we played against Kawasaki Frontale must have been a fascinating match for you to watch. Players from both teams scored five points in total during the game and Kawasaki Frontale won the game coming from the behind. I think the game both teams played was good publicity for the J. League as a whole. It was good for the J. League that players who were quite exhausted from playing a series of matches were still able to play a good game like they did.
Even though we lost the match, judging the match neutrally, it was such a good game we played. Kawasaki Frontale certainly has a few excellent players. Four attackers they have are of unique quality with excellent capabilities. Renatinho (uniform number 34) who was introduced during the second half stimulated the team in such a good way even just for 20 minutes. The fact that the team was able to introduce someone like him during the second half highlights the offensive capability they have and this goes to show how capable they are when it comes to attacks. I would like to show my respect to them by saying the following; Kawasaki Frontale must have a clear team direction and must have made conscious decisions of inviting such excellent players over the past few years based on their clear vision. The attackers they have played excellent offence and this proves the fact that the club has a clear idea when they get new players. For this reason, it was not a coincidence that they won second place in the J. League last year.