New Hoffenheim head coach Sebastian Hoeneß says he is aiming to instill the same brand of football that brought former club Bayern Munich the treble last season, as he gears up for his first campaign as a Bundesliga head coach.
The 38-year-old, who hails from one of Germany's foremost footballing families, steered the Bayern reserves to the third division title in 2019/20, before being headhunted by Hoffenheim over the summer.
bundesliga.com caught up with him for his thoughts on settling in, preferred playing style, tactics and much more besides...
bundesliga.com: You have been the new head coach at Hoffenheim since 1 July. How have you settled in?
Hoeneß: “I have settled in very well. It helped that I spent one year here as a player 15 years ago and that I was also met with a very open and positive environment. This helped me to get settled in immediately, which is important because things are happening very quickly.”
bundesliga.com: How is the process of getting to know the team and the club going?
Hoeneß: “I think we are coming to the end of the process. There are not many players left with whom I haven’t yet had a first meeting, but I also have not had too much time to speak to the lads on the pitch yet. Before things really get going, I think it is important to have had a longer individual conversation with each player. This is not just about the players as footballers, but also as people and their backgrounds. This will help me to know how to deal with the individual players and to understand them as people. This is important both on and off the pitch and there are only a few players left with whom I need to have this conversation.”
bundesliga.com: What style of communication do you have with the team?
Hoeneß: “I think it is important to have a relationship with the players and to be able to understand them. I hope the players will also get to know me as a person because this will help us to understand each other. I think success on the pitch can be fostered if you get to know each other on a human level and communication is therefore very important for me.”
bundesliga.com: What new challenges do you expect to face in your first post as a head coach in the Bundesliga?
Hoeneß: “I think it is a question of adapting and I am currently in the middle of this process. There are a lot of new things, but I feel comfortable and I am ready for the challenge. It was not too difficult to adjust, but the process is ongoing and it will not happen overnight. I just have to be ready for things to be more intense than they previously were. There are more media appointments and I am a bit more in the public eye. These are all things about being on the Bundesliga level that I have discovered along the way.”
Watch: Uli Hoeneß, the man who made Bayern a giant of the game
bundesliga.com: Your father, Dieter, was a Bundesliga goalscorer at Bayern, a national team player, and manager of several Bundesliga clubs. Your uncle is Uli Hoeneß. What impact have these influential figures in German football had on you?
Hoeneß: “Just like the various clubs I have been at, my father in particular has also shaped me over the years. I have been connected to football in some way or another for as long as I can remember. As a boy, I used to sit next to my father when he was on the phone and I just listened in. I only heard his side of the conversation, but I still learned a lot. I can’t deny that my father has had a big impact on me over the years.
"There still came a time when I had gained my own experiences and went my own way, but my father still followed my progress closely. This was very important to me because his experience is invaluable in certain situations. There is a strong family influence and am very happy about this. He is a confidant and he has already gone through these experiences himself, so he is able to give me good advice here and there.”
bundesliga.com: What kind of football do you stand for and what style of play do you want to see? TSG Hoffenheim is known for attacking play and excitement.
Hoeneß: “I stand for attractive, brave, and attacking football in all aspects of the game. We want to seize the initiative and not wait for the opposition. We want to dictate the pace of the game and we need to be brave and have confidence in our own ability in order to achieve this. This is what we want to try to do in the first game. The excitement comes from playing attacking football, being brave, and creating opportunities in front of goal."
bundesliga.com: Do you have a preferred style or basic formation?
Hoeneß: “It is vital to be flexible because many factors will determine what type of team we are or what players we have on the pitch. We need to see what the opposition are doing and how we will react to this. There is no single system because it is dependent on other factors and it is important to have flexibility. This is the system I have played so far and this is how I will continue.”
bundesliga.com: How much potential does your team have and how important is it for you to promote talent?
Hoeneß: “I don’t think I would be doing the lads any favours if I singled any of them out. I have seen with my own eyes that we have a lot of potential, but the young players need to show this on the pitch every day. They need to combine their footballing ability with a bit of personality and show a desire to win and a professionalism every day. If everything comes together and they can maximise their potential, then this usually leads to a good development.
"I always have an eye on the young players because this provides us with several opportunities. It gives the club a certain identity and the fans like to see young players who have developed here playing in the first team. The players just need to put in good performances because being young is not a quality in itself, but we definitely have a few very exciting young players here.”
bundesliga.com: What does it mean to you to have your first job in the Bundesliga?
Hoeneß: “It doesn’t mean too much yet, but that doesn’t mean that I’m completely laid back about the situation. I simply have not had the time to think about it or to comprehend the significance of the situation. I currently have so much to do on a daily basis that I have not had any time to reflect. I am sure it will sink in at some point, but things are already getting started and the first games have already been played, so maybe I will have a chance to look back in two or three years. I am extremely happy to be here because it is a very special position to be in, but for now I am focused on us having a successful start to the season.”