20.05.2019Bayer 04

‘The only way it could all work out so quickly’

The main target of qualifying for the Champions League has been achieved and Peter Bosz is suitably relaxed after the end of the season. The Werkself head coach shared his views ahead of going on holiday.

...on qualification for the Champions League:

The Champions League is the biggest thing you can achieve in club football. If you make it, you can develop at a really high level. The main feeling is of joy that we've made it. And, of course, it's also a good argument for one or two potential new signings.

...on the second half of the season:

When we started at Bayer 04 in January, me and my assistant Hendrie Krüzen looked at fourth place and said: It's still possible. But there's no point in talking about it as that would only be a distraction from the main aim. You only get there if you win games. And you only win games by being fully focused. Then we lost our first game against Gladbach at the start of the second half of the season although we played well. Then we were suddenly miles away with a twelve-point gap to Gladbach. But I didn't really think too much about it at the time. The focus was always on the next game. It was exactly the same after our following victories against Wolfsburg and Bayern.

...on the difficult phase with the three successive defeats against Bremen, Hoffenheim and Leipzig:

In the first training session after the defeat against Leipzig we asked the team on the training ground to say something about the current situation and where the players could identify problems and the areas needing improvement. I was very surprised that nine players spoke straightaway and they were very self-critical talking about the situation for themselves and the team. Normally very few people speak in situations like that. And mostly those who are used to speaking in front of the team. I think that was a very important moment for the successful run-in that we achieved in the end.

...on the problems when he first took over:

It's never good when you have to start as a coach in the middle of a season. In spite of that, I said yes to Bayer 04 because I saw the quality of the players and hoped we could get it right quickly. We talked about it a lot and much more than I'm usually used to. After every training session there was a meeting where I explained to the team what I expected if we're playing with the ball against the ball. I never had the feeling at any point that even one player had problems with our style of play. Everybody was convinced about our approach. That was new for me and I've never experienced that in my other jobs. There were always individual players, mostly either a goalkeeper or a defender, where we had to do some convincing. Here everybody was fully into our system straightaway and were motivated and completely focused on getting behind it. That was the only way it could all work out so quickly

...on the squad for next season:

That's the challenge we face now. I hope we can take the next steps – especially in terms of the team taking our playing style even more to heart in the way they have got used to the way we train. But in football it's always difficult when you achieve something to do the same thing once again. The attitude up to now is not enough and you have to work harder and invest more energy.

...on Kai Havertz:

He definitely has something special. Particularly as he is just 19 years old. It's very unusual to see performances like that at that age. He played incredibly well in the last few games. But even Kai obviously has something to learn although he's is very aware of where he can improve. The lad will definitely improve as he has this season in terms of posing a significantly bigger threat on goal than before. On that point, he's mostly scored the really important opening goals. But Kai will also have to overcome lows in his career. For example, he didn't really do very well at the beginning of the second half of the season. When we spoke about that he taught me a new German word. He said he'd been 'schlampig' (sloppy) in many situations.

...on the injuries to Karim Bellarabi and Leon Bailey during the run-in and playing in three competitions next season.

It's always important to find the right balance in the question of how many players you need. If I have too many pros in my squad who don't play much then a lot of them will be unhappy. That wouldn't be good. All the players I have have to feel they will get their chances to play. At the end of the second half of the season we were unlucky that both our wingers were injured at the same time so that we had to adjust and rearrange the way we play. But we were successful nevertheless. For me it's never a question of having quantity in the squad but rather quality. A team needs strength in depth but also it’s vital to me that every player who joins us will actually make us better.

...on his playing philosophy:

When I came to Leverkusen a lot of people said I was a coach who always played 4-3-3. That's not right. For me it's more about principles. I primarily want to play attacking football. It doesn't matter to me if that happens with a 4-3-3 line-up or, the way we played last weekend, with a 3-6-1 system as many said. We want to play attacking football high up the pitch and apply pressure. With 68 per cent, we were the team in the second half of the season with the most possession ahead of even Bayern on 64 per cent. Whether we achieve that with one, two or three strikers, with or without wingers, doesn't matter. Our clear principle of playing is based on building from the back, playing on the front foot, applying pressure high up the pitch, having lots of space at the back and winning the ball back straightaway when we've lost it.

...on the six-week summer break:

A lot of our players are about to play for their national teams again. For me, it's crucial that each player has three weeks holiday. The players need time to recover not just physically but also mentally. So there will be several who will probably start back later than 1 July when we begin the pre-season. All of the players have been given individual fitness regimes so that they don't have to start at the beginning again. After two weeks, we'll have our training camp (once again in SalzburgerLand in Zell am See–Kaprun, ed.) and everybody should be back by then.

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