Sport Den za Dnem visited the head of the coaching academy of the DFB and once again is convinced of how Russian football is detached from reality.
Hennes Weisweiler Academy is hidden in a small forest on the very outskirts of Hennef — a small town near Cologne. This is the latest and steepest stage for each German coach, whose study years have not put him off running the Bundesliga club yet.
Even the great Hennes Weisweiler who died of a heart attack in 1983, just a month after he had won the championship for Grasshopper Club Zürich, was a wizard for football players: thanks to the symbiosis of science, theory and practice, he managed to get more than maximum out of certain players, allowing those to go to the level of potential world champions. Stielike, Heynckes, Vogts, Simonsen and a countless number of players were trained by Weisweiler, expressing not only their own gratitude. Until now, the memory of the coach is honored by the worst enemies - Köln fans and Mönchengladbach. The clubs that he dared to train one after another.
«Weisweiler was an absolute authority, even young players were afraid of him», recalled one of his Mönchengladbach trainees Wolfgang Kleff. «His one glance was enough to understand what the coach wants. Weisweiler helped many to find courage in the game one-on-one — an attack was considered his strength. Simonsen and Bonhof were at first, when they came to us, absolutely ''blind''. The coach armed himself with patience, worked intensively with them and made them international stars».
The Academy corresponds to loud, but good name. There is no luxury, but all is comfortable and functional. Several high-class training fields, heated outdoor pool, residential building of a good-hotel level, dining room serving only healthy food, and talks about the work that do not stop for a second.
It so happened that the door at the entrance to the office of Frank Wormuth, the Academy director, is held by Torsten Frings, vice-world champion 2002. This defies belief at once, if for no other reason than because his head is not nimbed, and each of us can put on such a training suit. Frings says hello as if waiting that someone from Russia is about to come to this woodside.
Frank Wormuth is an irreplaceable person for German football. He played with Joachim Löw for Freiburg, and trained Fenerbahçe with him. Since 2008, he heads the academy, which allows Bundesliga to do almost without foreign experts, and besides will bring team Germany to the World Cup U-20 next summer.
— Frank, frankly, everything looks so good and friendly in your place that it makes stay and work with you. Is German football the most prosperous in the world?
— I would not say so, because there are a lot of ways to get success. Yes, we won the World Cup! But however Germany still has its own challenges. You say you watched our recent qualification matches against Poland and Ireland (0:2 and 1:1 — Sports Daily). So, you see what we can face when the head coach has as few as 15 players of a really high level.
— But Germany is famous for an excellent youth training system, so you’ll surely cope with this.
— That’s just the point! The fact is that everybody knows that we have a system. It really exists, and this is really cool. Nevertheless, at the moment we have a challenge how to fill positions of the left and right backs in the national team, as well as find a forward like Miro Klose for it. Almost all strong players in the youth and junior football are gathered in the middle of the field. There’s nobody in flanks. Everyone wants to mess about with the ball, control the game. For example, such as my son. But one should change roles in order to discover potential. So the coach and me almost pushed him to the flank. Run, learn to fulfill potential, and the ball will come to you. Now Durm from Dortmund plays on the left in the national team, who started as a forward. He did not develop as a forward, so he was placed on the right side of the defense. Then on the left. And in the end it turned out that the 22-year-old man cannot fulfill his potential in any one role to a full degree. So we need to make an effort to deliver not just good football players, but top-level players.
— How exactly are you going to improve the training system?
— For example, now in youth football we see potential of guys who could play better "one-on-one", and this concerns both defenders and attackers. If in general, I do not really like the desire of a large number of teams, including Bundesliga, to throw the ball as quickly as possible to the front line. That’s not the way the national team plays! On the other hand, unexpected things happen. For example, Karim Bellarabi, who was called to play against Poland and Ireland. He played well. I know him for long, he was in my national team, then I watched him playing with Eintracht from Braunschweig. Karim’s technique is excellent, he is able to work with the ball at a high speed. But tactics should be explained to him in detail — where he should run to, how he should open, to which zone he should give the ball. And finally he joined in "his" team, Leverkusen, where he just receives a task: here’s a ball, here’s a goal net, strike and make a goal. He fulfilled his potential! You must not set challenging assignments for Karim.
— Your U-20 national team includes representatives of all three major leagues in Germany. Why does it happen that Bundesliga guys are together with Bundesliga 3 players on the list?
— The age of my players is 19 at the moment. You can imagine that it is difficult for those young guys to play permanently in the highest league. Therefore I have to look in the second, third and in the fourth league because it is important that young players play from week to week. It helps the U20 national team to get success. So if they are not included in the first teams of their clubs, they should be rented by those which will give them practice. Another thing is, unfortunately, the level of players is developing far more slowly in the lower leagues. This is why it is not always easy for the national youth and junior teams to stick to the same style of play as Bundesliga.
— How do you share the players with the national team U-21?
— It is clear that U-21 is a more promoted team. This is, in fact, the last step in front of the door to the national team. Therefore, all the best ones are selected for this team. Our situation is full of experiments. My colleagues ask me whether these or those guys suit, and what my team has for solving larger tasks at next year's World Cup in New Zealand. I answer: "How do I know at the moment?!" One player can express himself, but another can fail to. And the challenge is to compose the 18+3 for U-20 World Cup.
— Davie Selke from Werder Bremen was the best goal scorer of the European Championship U-19, which was won by Germany. He could help you...
— Davie Selke is not very eager to play with us at the moment. He wants to stay in Werder, focus on it, fight for a place in the first eleven. In general coaches are not very willing to let players go, which also makes sense for coaches of club teams but not for a national coach (Laughs) (At the time of the interview, Werder’s coach was Robin Dutt — Sports Daily).
— In order to work as licensing center head and coach of the national youth team simultaneously, a day should be planned in a special way, shouldn’t it?
—(Laughs) Timetable is tight. As to the center, work there begins on Monday morning and ends on Wednesday night. Course planning takes the rest of the time, because next to the head of the academy I have enough to do as the main instructor. Besides, about 5 times a football season I work with the national team U-20, which plays about nine matches. It is anything but simple to bring players together — you need to understand clearly who you need, so I usually go to the matches on the weekends. And I have to analyze matches, prepare trainings, moreover, keep in touch with players and candidates for the team besides the training camps. Remember that we are constantly involved in some presentations, both in Germany and abroad. In general, there is no word "free time" in my vocabulary, because I could turn my hobby into a career.
— Who is harder to train — young players or young coaches?
— Players. Because they are the personalities not mature enough to perceive some things immediately. Coaches already have life experience, the only thing left is for them to confirm some of their knowledge through theory and give necessary impetus for a new round of development. As for young people, they just play football for now. Their worldview sounds exceptionally like: "I play football."
— Russia lacks young players who can strengthen the national team. Some say a limit for foreign players should be established. Others say it’s not necessary. Does Germany need the limit?
— Our Bundesliga club must have 12 players with a German passport in the application.
— And why do you need them? The determining factor is free competition...
— What for? Bundesliga clubs, both the first and second one, are required to have their own academies. And if they invest a lot of money in terms and salary for skilled professionals who are able to develop a player to the level of the necessary requirements, it is quite logical that the board sets the aim: give us one or two talented guys once a year. And once the task is set, it means that German players appear in clubs. Those that have a chance to play in the first eleven, since they are sufficiently prepared.
— Does Germany have any salary cap for young players? Maybe a non-public one.
— No. We live under capitalism. One club wants player X, the second one wants player X, there appears an agent who negotiates with both. Indeed, there are situations where a young football player gets a too expensive contract, although his playing is not very good. But this means that he merely has a strong agent! In the end, the club says that it needs this player and pays him money.
— Does that mean that high salaries of young players are not a problem for German football?
— Yes, it does.
— I don’t understand you.
— Well, let me explain. In Russia, if a player representing the youth team of the Premier League club immediately receives a good salary covering all his needs, he usually loses motivation.
— Ah, that’s what you are talking about! No, our young people do not have problems with the mentality, no matter how much they earn. Look, Mario Götze - he perfectly plays football, scored a goal in the World Cup final and has plenty of money. He could already go to, say, the Dominican Republic and lie with a cocktail. But he continues to play at the highest level. Given that no one has cancelled the idea that when you have money, live is wonderful. The guys like to play for full stands, in beautiful stadiums, pit strength against serious rivals. They love football, therefore their mentality is all right. Our youth has another psychological problem: many in the early age get used to win tournaments, score goals, become the best. But the transition from the red carpet to adult football where they are nobody just yet is hard for them, not everyone can get ahead in the end. It takes nearly three years to find feet really in the period between the youth teams and main ones. Only if you're a great player, you manage to go through this stage quickly and painlessly.
— May be, you won’t understand the next question as well, it’s again about Russia...
— (Laughs) Come on, I like your questions!
— Your colleague Nikolai Pisarev has produced an idea discussed so much: to include the picked team in the country championship, with the help of which it would be possible to prepare players for the World Cup 2018. What do you think?
— A good idea. I would even say, an excellent one. From the point of view of creating a special team spirit, building relationships in such a team, even playing links. For example, players from all over Germany come to join in our national teams. Someone once played with someone in one team, but still the guys know each other little. Everyone has his own idea of football. It takes much time to make them equal. But if you have a team that constantly plays in one of the divisions, there won’t be such problems. However, it is impossible to create such a team in Germany, of course. We have a lot of rules and laws (Laughs).
— Some time ago Russia was fond of football training system taken from Holland, Netherland specialists are still in demand in many Asian countries. Can you explain why?
— The Dutch philosophy is to develop the qualities of a particular player to the highest extent. We in Germany primarily talk about training the teams as a whole. Individuality and team — inseparable things. They admit in Holland that a team is very important, but add that it is composed of 11 players. A coach there will say, "I'm working today on the position of the 11th number. Let us learn to be a Robben for an hour." And the player is really getting better and better. That is why Dutch players reach high peaks and play for great clubs. But on the other hand, that’s why it’s hard for the national team of this country to win prizes. They achieve a lot for a small country. But something is always lacking.
— A small country, not very rich, and therefore clubs always have sell football players. Actually, that is why they train them. Germans do not go abroad with the same easiness...
— We have enough money in our clubs, that’s why players do not want to leave. And as I already said, every match in Germany is served as a small event. So why should we lose this? You can certainly go to, say, Italy. But now Serie A is not very interesting for our players, except for Miro Klose and Mario Gomez. Ozil, Khedira, Podolski play for Arsenal, but that's because Arsène Wenger likes German players — after all, he's from Alsace, he was born in Strasbourg. It is quite close to Germany. But in general it’s not easy to go abroad and at the same time earn a lot of money and have the same emotions as our football gives. In terms of the atmosphere, we are on top now. And in some countries people do not want to have German players. France for example and normally England, and Spain and …. I don´t know why (Laughs).
— How often do you meet as a whole coaching staff? I mean, coaches of German youth and junior teams, as well as Bundestrainer Joachim Löw.
— About once a month. We meet in the evening, go somewhere together just to chat. The next day, we discuss all the pressing problems during 6-7 hours in the normal course of business. Everyone tells something about his team, then we all together analyze it, formulate challenges.
— Do you always share the same opinion with your colleagues?
— Never! We are Germans, we don’t have a common point of view (Laughs). We can argue ourselves hoarse. But when it comes to public statements, we all speak in the same way and are common in our opinions.
— Do you really argue yourself hoarse even with Joachim Löw?
— Yes, we do, of course. Simply he reserves the right to decide (Laughs). At least because the main source of the Federation income is the national team. If it doesn’t bring results, all the other teams will face problems.
— And will your team go to the World Cup — New Zealand on shipboard?
— (Laughs) Yeah, on shipboard! But in business-class cabins!
Pictures: Natalia Zhidkova