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Michael Zorc: Only changes can leave a club on a high level of focus and aspiration

Михаэль Цорк
Фото: Eurosport

Borussia Dortmund sporting director looks like he just yesterday finished a playing career. However, he occupies his post for almost 20 years. And despite the fact that Dortmund doesn’t show yet its best in this Bundesliga season, the name of Michael Zorc (54) is exclusively associated with BVB successes. He is one of the emblem of the worldwide known club. And trust symbol as well.

— According to the year financial report, Borussia Dortmund was able to earn even without taking transfer money into account. How do you manage to increase constantly these figures? Especially given that fact that BVB played Europe League last season.
— Generally spoken, it is our aim to increase revenues in all relevant aspects such as merchandising, ticketing, sponsoring and TV rights. Only by doing so, we can remain competitive amongst the best and most potent clubs in the world of football. This past summer, however, had been special. It had not been our aim to sell three of our most important players. We would have preferred to extend each of these contracts, but since that was not possible, we had to sell them for the highest possible price — and fortunately we’ve made the most out of it.

— Was it the right time to give Hummels go?
— It was not about the right time or not, it simply was the only way. Mats had informed us about his wish to return to Munich, his home town, and FC Bayern, where he had started his playing career. And since his contract would have expired the following year, we had to sell him now — by the way: for a worldwide record amount of money for a player of his contract status.

— Do you think Marc Bartra is equivalent substitution for Hummels?
— It is not our philosophy to try to replace players one-to-one. Whenever a player leaves, this leads to new dynamics and hierarchies within the remaining group; same goes for new players coming in. Only by doing so, you are able to constantly remain on a high level of focus and aspiration. Talking about Marc, he is a still young but already highly skilled player of whom we believe he has not yet reached his full potential.

— Have you been absolutely pleased with Mkhitaryan performances in Dortmund?
— He had a brilliant last year for us at Dortmund. When he informed us thereafter of his desire to sign with Manchester United, we again had to decide what to day — comply with the player’s desire and sell for the highest possible transfer fee or let the player walk for nothing. Ultimately, we even topped with Mkhitaryan what we previously had inherited for Hummels...

— Almost three players at one position — the dream of every coach. But whether it will be really good for BVB, because everyone wants to be on the pitch. To have all players satisfied you should have always good results and unity. Above all, how to keep all players fit?
— Most important is to offer each player a chance to play on a regular basis. A year ago our roster had been smaller, but we almost stayed free of significant injuries. This season — and especially these days — the situation is quite different. There have been matches even at Champions League level in which we had to start with two 18 year olds on the pitch. And the average of the team was barely 22. The first months have proven us right: a season with Champions League is very demanding, therefore it is mandatory to spread out the tasks as much as possible on a high level.

— I’ve heard that Jürgen Klopp was not fond of discussing transfers. He did not need to, because there are always Herr Watzke and Herr Zorc behind. Is it so?
— That is not up to the facts. Each and every signing of a player is discussed and agreed between management and the head coach. Of course, each head coach has more to do with the preparation of next matches and therefore likes to leave scouting and recruiting to management.

— How is going with Thomas Tuchel in this sense? What is a coach’s role in transfer work?
— His role is similar compared to the one of Jürgen before. We at Borussia Dortmund would never sign a player a coach doesn’t agree to. Then it simply wouldn’t work at all. By the many transfers that you do as a club over the years, you always happen to have transfers where input mainly comes from the coaching side and others with more input from management or scouting side. Important is to finally reach a mutual agreement to sign any given player.

— Why BVB is not chasing youth players so much as for example TSG and Leipzig do? You could afford it easily.
— Our recent championships at under-17 and under-19 level are proof of our goal to work extensively with youth players. When signing players at that age from outside of Dortmund, in most cases we have competition from the clubs you mentioned. However, we can offer them to play at Europe’s highest level, when playing in the UEFA Champions League subsequently also in the UEFA Youth League for under-19 teams. At the same time we are fully aware of the fact we can’t reach our goals at pro level only with teenage players.

— You’ve been in China for friendlies this summer again. Is it possible one day that BVB will invite Chinese player for commercial reason?
— Generally spoken, such a decision would be extremely shortsighted. And it would insult the football fans from a respective country.

— What about the Pulisic transfer? A big star and only 16, was that marketing motivated?
— His value as a football player from youngest age does not put into doubt the reason why we signed him to play for Borussia Dortmund.

— Have you really been interested in Oleg Shatov from Zenit St. Petersburg?
— We never comment on rumors like this.

— Whose idea was to bring Julian Weigl from Munchen?
— The idea of Borussia Dortmund (laughs). We had been following him closely even at times when he had not been playing regularly at their side.

— What is the main task for scouts in BVB? Is it right that club follows a player not less than 2 years before purchase him?
— The main task is to gather as much information as possible. In some cases over the course of two or more years, but this is not possible in some and not necessary in others.

— Is it still painful — that Europe League match in Liverpool? (BVB’ve lost in 2nd leg of quarterfinals 3:4 after taking the lead 3:1 —
— The way we lost and thus had to exit the competition had been painful. We had a good chance to advance. And the title in the Europa League is one missing in our club history. But we’ve learned from those matches, looking ahead now and trying to do better in the Champions League.

— Is it difficult to undergo by such a significant style change, from Jurgen Klopp to Thomas Tuchel?
— I wouldn’t say so much our style of play has changed significantly. I rather would point out an ever-growing amount of quality has allowed us to develop from a permanently attacking and pressing team under Jurgen Klopp — especially in his early years — into a ball possessing team under Thomas Tuchel. Even against Real Madrid we had a higher percentage of ball possession. We feel obliged to the tradition of BVB, the working-class city of Dortmund and the Ruhr area to always play an attacking and thus highly attractive kind of football that is based on diligence and hard work.

— Is it hard job sometimes for the board to calm down the coach when things doesn't turn out in good?
— It is highly important to remain calm as management internally and towards the public especially in tougher times.

— How to beat Bayern Munchen? What would be a key to reach top of Bundesliga again?
— The incredible strength of Bayern Munich in recent time has been to perform in every single match again and again. However, we have proven our ability to beat them in a single match at multiple times. To beat them over the course of a full season, first of all they would have to not reach their full potential over an extended period of time.

— You work for BVB for a long time. Can you imagine yourself in another big club?
— A single word is enough for an answer here: No!

The interview organized and supported by the press service of Borussia Dortmund.

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