Cologne - Former Borussia Dortmund, SV Werder Bremen and DSC Arminia Bielefeld defensive specialist Patrick Owomoyela has linked up with the DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga to bring Bundesliga fans even closer to their heroes.
In our brand new feature, two-time Bundesliga champion, double winner and former Germany international will be interviewing some of the biggest names in German football on a monthly basis.
Before kicking things off with VfL Wolfsburg star Max Kruse next week, bundesliga.com caught up with the 35-year-old to find out more about his new adventure and what he makes of the season so far…
bundesliga.com: Patrick Owomoyela, you are now interviewing a star a month for the DFL, starting with Max Kruse. How do you like your new role?
Patrick Owomoyela: I'm really looking forward to it and I think it's great to be able to do these interviews on a different level. I know most of the players personally anyway and that makes it a relaxed atmosphere. As a former player, I also know what it's like to have to answer the same bland questions over and over so I'm now trying to give interviews which we can all enjoy. So far, it's been going really well. I'm really enjoying it and we're running a little competition with the players too. It's going to be very interesting for the fans..
bundesliga.com: Do you think that you have an advantage, being a former player and former team-mate?
Owomoyela: It definitely makes things more relaxing, but I don't think I am better than any other journalist (smiles) – I'm just different. The players respond to me differently because I am or was one of them, and the interview benefits from that.
bundesliga.com: Let's talk about Borussia Dortmund and their new coach Thomas Tuchel. What has changed about BVB's style of play?
Owomoyela: I'm always a bit cautious when it comes to making such an analysis. Of course things are different now – there are different players for a start. It's nice to see that the things Tuchel likes are also working, but everything's got to be given time to develop and settle first. You can start to see the new coach's signature for sure, but the style has not altered drastically. Dortmund still play an aggressive brand of football and press high up the field. I'm looking forward to seeing when they come up against really top teams and how they behave then, whether they can still dominate the game. Only then can we really tell what the DNA of this new Dortmund side is. It's been good to see so far how fresh and lively they have been. The lads are enjoying themselves and that's something you didn't see a lot of last year.
bundesliga.com: Does the coach have any influence on this new fun factor?
Owomoyela: Of course he does. When a new coach arrives, it always has an impact. The players have to prove themselves to him and those who maybe weren't so happy before regard it as a new chance. Those who were playing before know they still have to prove they deserve to keep playing. There's also a new approach and the team have new motivation, maybe things are different in training too. At the moment, it certainly looks like things have taken a turn for the better.
bundesliga.com: Do you think Dortmund are already capable of matching FC Bayern München for the duration of the season?
Owomoyela: We'll have to wait and see what happens when they play the really top teams like Bayer 04 Leverkusen, the derby against FC Schalke 04, or against FC Bayern München. Then they can show us how strong they really are. Their Europa League wins were to be expected, as were their victories in the DFB Cup and the Bundesliga – they were all opponents you'd expect them to beat on a normal day. But I'm confident they can keep it going, and that they're serious challengers to Bayern for the title.
bundesliga.com: Bayern are very strong again, as are VfL Wolfsburg, who have made their best start to a season ever. Who do you see staying up there?
Owomoyela: It's like a lottery every year. Of course there are the same old clubs who do have that bit more quality in their teams, but there's always one who sneaks in there as a surprise. Last year it was Gladbach, even if it has to be said they'd been playing good football for years already. Augsburg had a great season and nobody really expected that. But I'd have to say it's teams like Bayern, Wolfsburg and Dortmund, and certainly also Schalke and Leverkusen, who are going to be up there.
bundesliga.com: What about 1. FC Köln, 1. FSV Mainz 05 or FC Ingolstadt 04 – can they spring a surprise?
Owomoyela: Absolutely! Köln have made a really good start to the season, but only three games have gone and you can't take that as a yardstick. Only after ten games or so can you really see where things are heading There are teams at the bottom who've had three defeats and you wouldn't have expected that at all, and then those who are high up there and you ask yourselves why – it will all even out.
Owomoyela: They've certainly been hits. Costa in particular has been heavily involved in the opening games while Vidal's also made an impression. Bayern can pat themselves on the back – they've got a lot right with those two, and now they've signed Kingsley Coman from Juventus. They were already strong, and now they're even stronger and they're bound to be right up there again at the end.
bundesliga.de: And what do you make of Mainz's new signing Yoshinori Muto (r.), who scored two last weekend?
Owomoyela: I like him, and it looks like not many people knew all that much about him, which means he can practically do whatever he wants. He's clinical and also defensively strong. Asian players really do well with the style of play in the Bundesliga. Muto's just the latest example – he's a joy to watch!
Interview by Helge Winter