Ralf Fährmann, it is the last week of pre-season. How happy are you that the competitive matches are just around the corner?
Pre-season is always very demanding and stressful. We have been on the move a lot of late: to China, Mittersill and, most recently, to London. I am happy to be getting back into a normal rhythm and playing for something that matters. Pre-season is important for football and friendlies are good fun, but ultimately we all love competitive action.
In seven friendlies, the team didn’t lose once. How important is that?
Not very, obviously I hope we can stay unbeaten for longer. However, the season is much more decisive than the results in pre-season. If I look back on my career so far, I have seen it all. I have had pre-seasons where my team has won every game and then had a poor start to the season. In contrast, however, there have been times when we lost a few of the pre-season friendlies but then started the new season really well. At the end of the day, the time before the season starts is a good opportunity to try new things out. We have done that. We have progressed well as a team.
Pre-season is important for football and friendlies are good fun, but ultimately we all love competitive action.
You play mainly with a 3-4-3 formation now under Domenico Tedesco. What has changed for you personally in the new system?
Not as much as some people might think. Especially as the 3-4-3 formation is always dependent on the opponent. Sometimes someone slots into the defence and sometimes someone pushes up. That makes it much harder for the opposition because we become more unpredictable.
A new goalkeeper, Michael Langer has joined the squad in the last few days, has he had his initiation yet?
No, not yet. I am interested to see what he comes up with. Maybe he’ll show off a few Austrian specialties or something Scandinavian because Michael’s last club was Norrköping in Sweden.
How well do you get on with Michael?
Really well, he is a good lad. But I didn’t expect anything else. He is extremely friendly, just like all of the Austrians I’ve met in my career.
The first competitive fixture of the season is on Monday. How prepared are you for the match against BFC Dynamo?
As prepared as for any other match. Of course we know that we are the favourites to progress. But we also have to cope with those expectations. In the past the cup has always show that there can be upsets or stumbling blocks. We have to go into the match in Berlin therefore with the utmost concentration.
After that your first game in the Bundesliga is at home to RB Leipzig. How much have you missed the atmosphere in the VELTINS-Arena in the past few weeks?
It is about time. I think that that expresses exactly what I and my teammates feel. You just miss the electric atmosphere. As a result I am really happy to be starting with a home game unlike in previous years.