… the conditions in the US:
I was already in Orlando a few days before the start of the training camp, so I was able to get an idea of the conditions here. The people here are all very sincere, warm and helpful. All in all, the conditions are good, which means we can prepare well for the second half of the season and concentrate on the essentials – namely the work on the training pitch. Of course we also have some non-sporting items on our agenda, and as we are in Florida that means representing the FC Schalke 04 brand and the Bundesliga as a whole. So it that respect, it is obvious that we want to show our best side.
… the team’s fitness:
At the start of the training camp we did a lactate test, and I’m very happy with the results. The boys have stuck to their training plans very well during their time off. Of course it was important to switch off and recuperate after the first half of the season. But preparing for the preparation is part of that too. To my relief, there were no players who arrived even slightly overweight or with poor results. That is good because we don’t want to waste time unnecessarily by having to work on the basics up until the restart of the season, but we want to get straight into the real training.
… the training goals in Orlando:
We want to be better when facing the ball in matches. We were excellent at that early in the campaign, but then we let that fade away. In the future, we would like to pass the ball forward with greater courage. Recently we had problems in the final third of the pitch as we went searching for goals. Moreover, we also want to improve the quality of our crosses so that the boys in the middle get better chances and then they can take advantage of these.
… Marco Höger and Matija Nastasic:
Both of them have travelled with us to Orlando, even though they will not be able to take part in team training after their injuries. They will be doing rehabilitation training, but I find it important that they are back in the team environment. It will do Marco and Matija good to be close to the team again after so many sessions on their own. That definitely gives them a splash of extra confidence and it also good for their mind.
… Atsuto Uchida:
We hope that he will be able to participate in some parts of team training out here in Orlando. But it would be best not to overexert Atsuto. We cannot rush him. It would be incredibly counterproductive for him after such a long injury layoff.
… Dennis Aogo:
The Achilles tendon aggravation that he suffered at the end of the first half of the season seems alright. Dennis took part in the lactate test as normal, and a few days earlier in Orlando he had an MRI scan which showed no issues. Of course we have to wait and see over the coming days how the tendon reacts.
… the mentality of possible new signings:
We need players who are convinced that they want to play for Schalke. If a player is only concerned with what we can earn and where, then he is not the right person for me or for the club. Players have to have passion for Schalke and be hungry for success! That is all that counts. I would like to have players in the team who understand the club and also embody it.
… Younes Belhanda:
We want to increase competition for places in the team. Younes Belhanda can play in an attacking role both centrally and out wide. The player wants to prove himself with us and show what he’s capable of. He is quick, dynamic, has a good goal-scoring and assist ratio and so is another good option for us in attack.