Svensson: “These are the questions I need to ask”
Over the international break, the Mainz head coach wants to look in the mirror and reflect critically on the tasks that lie ahead with his team. This is a challenge, however, that Svensson is relishing.
Directly after the Hertha game, Martin Schmidt highlighted the importance of Anthony Caci’s 94th minute equaliser. The sporting director believes that the goal was important for Mainz’s confidence, and he didn’t want to imagine what the mood in the camp would have been like at the start of the international break if the Berliners had run away with all three points. The Swiss also believes that the point that the Zerofivers picked up makes their work over the next few weeks a little easier. Schmidt used his post-match interview to explain how Bo Svensson will use the international break as an opportunity to reflect critically on the things that his side need to do better, in order to quell any possibility of negativity creeping into the camp. After the players return from international duty, FSV have five tough tests ahead of them, starting with a trip to Freiburg (1st October, 15:30 CEST), followed by games against Leipzig (8th October, 15:30 CEST), Werder (15th October, 15:30 CEST), Köln (21st October, 20:30 CEST) and FC Bayern (29th October, 15:30 CEST).
Bo Svensson, who always sets the highest standards both for himself and for his team, wasn’t happy with his side’s performance against Hertha and he believes his team left a lot to be desired across all departments. Perhaps he had the games after the international break in mind when he made his feelings known after the match: “We didn’t bring what we wanted to the pitch. We are obviously happy with the late goal but if we look at the bigger picture, we know that what we have delivered in the first part of the season hasn’t been good enough and that’s the bottom line. We have to be honest with ourselves about that. And we certainly are,” said the 43-year-old.
A mixture of different things
You can’t expect a team to be completely dominant over 90 minutes, but according to the manager, the Zerofivers haven’t really stamped their authority on any game yet. “It is a mixture of different things. We can’t say that we shined in every game last season but I am not happy with that fact that we haven’t brought that power and energy often enough this year. We need to recognise these things and I know that the players agree with me to a certain extent. These are the things we need to work on,” said the gaffer.
I am not happy with that fact that we haven’t brought that power and energy often enough this year
“We believe that first and foremost, we need to bring to the pitch the things that we do really well. Then the other things follow. Not automatically, but they are more likely to follow if we do things in this order. At the moment we are lacking that intensity. We wanted to be energetic and press high up the pitch but we weren’t brave enough. We need to get back to doing that quickly and we need to do it for long periods in games. Against Hertha it was there to some extent in the second half but it’s not good enough to just do it for 45 minutes.”
Within touching distance of FC Bayern
According to the manager, there isn’t one reason in particular why the players haven’t been delivering the things that are usually central to the success of the team. “They are fundamental things that we have been doing for a long time as a group. You can of course say that teams are becoming aware of the things that set us apart, but they also knew them last year.” The fact that some players are missing is not something that the manager is using as an excuse. “Every player in that dressing room must be absolutely clear about what is expected of them and what they need to bring to the pitch. If that isn’t the case then I obviously haven’t explained it well enough,” said the boss. “We will work really hard to change that. We need to look for explanations. Is it not working tactically? Or have we lost our courage? Were the opponents just that good today? Or did our players just not deliver tactically? These are the questions that I need to ask,” emphasised the Svensson.
We will work really hard to change that
Svensson is now mentally drawing a line in the sand, and the upcoming international break is offering a good opportunity to do just that. “Eleven points (after seven games) is a decent tally but we are fundamentally not satisfied with how we have played.” The boss, however, made it clear that it is a complex situation. The team have picked up three wins, are level on points with Eintracht Frankfurt and are within touching distance of Gladbach and Bayern. “We have won three games, sometimes deservedly,” highlighted the coach.
Pushing limits in order to avoid problems
Despite the three wins and the two draws, Svensson is still waiting for his side to push themselves to the absolute limit. “The final thing that we demand is that we always push ourselves to the limit. We look at our points tally but we also look ourselves in the mirror. Right now, we can say that we have had some good to decent periods in our matches but we have not yet played well over a full 90 minutes. The one thing we always have influence over is our performance. If we carry on like we are then we will run into problems.”
Five Zerofivers are going away on international duty (Karim Onisiwo, Silvan Widmer, Jae-Sung Lee, Leandro Barreiro and Ben Bobzien) but the gaffer still has a big group to work with during the break. Mainz have several public training sessions ahead of them, as well as a friendly against Karlsruhe SC (Thursday 22nd September, 13:00 CEST). Despite the overall unsatisfactory performance, there are still some positives that Mainz can take from the Hertha game into the international break. For example, Anthony Caci scored his first Bundesliga goal and Danny da Costa, who had been out with a long term injury, finally returned to the side. Both players will remain with the squad over the break and will continue to put in their hard work. Svensson wants to use this time in order to take some forward steps and the analysis with his staff has already begun. There will be lots of discussions and intensive training sessions over the coming days. “I believe that we all know what we can do better. Now it’s all about finding solutions in order to put in good performances. We all need come off the pitch with an understanding of what we need to do and what we need to take into games,” concluded Svensson.
According to Svensson, the biggest challenge that lies ahead is implementing the fundamentals. “Everyone thinks that the best thing is winning, but the best thing is ultimately mastering these tasks.”