BELL: "THE EXTREME TIMES ARE BEHIND US".
On Saturday lunchtime, Stefan Bell spoke in detail about his personal comeback, as well as that of the Zerofivers, analysed the current squad and at the same time warned against taking the second half of the season as a yardstick.
Stefan Bell was one of the big surprises at Mainz during the second half of last season. After a long injury break, he found his old strength again under Bo Svensson, received the confidence of his former teammate in the centre of defence and was instrumental in staying up. During the summer training in Bad Häring on Saturday afternoon, he spoke at length about the past, the present and the future and warned against excessive expectations.
...the squad composition
"The extreme times are behind us. You can see that we have a better mix, as the second half of the season showed. We felt - now from the gut - that we were two years older on the pitch. I think that also helps us to remain more stable, especially for the individual young players. It's simply the good mix that makes the difference, that's one conclusion from the last one or two years. Just putting top talents next to each other doesn't help. It's about experience, about consistency. There were many good decisions with the contract extensions in the summer, which are good signs. At the beginning of the summer break, there was a certain uncertainty. Seeing the development then, with the many contract extensions, has been good. We now have double players in every position and 23 seasoned professionals. It shouldn't be too many players either, because we have talented players at the back."
... his extension last summer
"The one-year contract was the only thing that made sense at the time. Neither I nor the club knew how I would be physically after the injury, plus the financial uncertainty for the club in Corona times. We simply wanted to see how things would look in a year's time. The agreement came relatively quickly after we had already secured our place in the league."
...the second half of the season from a personal perspective
"I was surprised that it worked so well physically straight away. After my comeback, there was an English week. It was surprising that I coped well with that, also because we had almost no friendly matches. It worked well, the style of play, the team and the momentum certainly helped me. I was back at the right time."
...the situation at the beginning of the second half of the season
"Of course, there was uncertainty because we scored so few points in the first half of the season. Because we had so many changes in the winter and an average of five new people on the pitch, in a different system, we were able to approach the matter freshly and halfway unselfconsciously. That was the only way it felt like a fresh start. To continue as we did in the first half of the season would have been difficult. The change was right and important."
...the second half of the season from the team's point of view
"We were totally stable tactically, everyone did their job reliably, played in the perfect position for them. There were fewer fluctuations in performance. In addition, we were stable in terms of mentality; setbacks never threw us off course. That's where the greater experience on the pitch also paid off."
...the starting situation this summer
"We've picked up a lot of points, but we've also won every game with a one-goal difference. We were also lucky against the competition from below, like against Bremen and Cologne. A lot came together there, we had nothing to lose. Now it's a different story, nobody will underestimate us and maybe we'll be judged on performances. I think everyone is aware of that, I have that feeling. Everyone knows how hard we have to keep working. Nevertheless, we have to keep sharpening our senses. There must be no "it will work out". In the same way, after 32 points in the second half of the season, you can't now expect 60 in the first half."
...the Liverpool game
"Liverpool had a few more chances in the first half, after the break we were better. A draw would have been fair over 90 minutes. We didn't take our chances but had youngsters up front who did well. They weren't in awe."
...the fan return
"The game yesterday was a preview. You just get the immediate feedback, the support. There are more emotions, that makes a difference. It would have been interesting to experience the second half of the season with fans, for example the game against Dortmund in front of a full house after we had managed to stay in the league. But we handled the situation very well."
...the possible interest in Moussa Niakhaté and Jeremiah St. Juste.
"You follow the situation. You don't always have players with this overall package in your squad. It wouldn't be unusual for a top team to show interest. Of course, it would be a loss if one were to leave. Both are predestined for our game. But top players have always left us in recent years, and we've always been able to compensate."
...The captaincy question
"I think it's a luxury situation for the coach because he has many good candidates. Wearing the armband makes you proud. If someone else wears it, I'm at peace with myself. I'm relaxed about it and don't need it as an extra kick."