Werder Bremen's Max Kruse has been named March's Bundesliga Player of the Month after registering six goals and three assists in just four matches. The Bremen captain speaks exclusively to bundesliga.com about the award, his season so far and Bremen.
Max Kruse: “I don’t think you get to be Player of the Month too often, so it’s an achievement for me and for the team who have supported me and given me the chance to become Player of the Month."
bundesliga.com: It was a very special month for you, wasn't it?
Kruse: “March was very good compared to other months, yeah. I wouldn’t say the other months were catastrophic though. But you can say March was outstanding from a statistical perspective. I did it a couple of years ago as well I think, I was very good in the second half of the season and I also had a lot of goals and assists in March. I don’t know, maybe it’s because it’s my birthday in March and I push myself a bit more. No idea! But obviously it’s nice it all worked out.”
bundesliga.com: Six goals and three assists in one month. That has to be one of the most impressive returns of your career?
Kruse: “Yeah, definitely one of the best months. I’ve had a lot of good months in my career as a footballer, but when everything goes so well all of a sudden across five or six games, it’s a great record and you have to be happy with that.”
bundesliga.com: What was the best goal you scored in March?
Kruse: “I think the goal in Leverkusen to make it 3-1 wasn’t bad, with the obligatory chip which I always like to do. But I think the first goal against Mainz wasn’t bad either. Sure, there weren’t any Messi-esque goals in there, but there were some nice ones in my style.”
bundesliga.com: How would you describe ‘Max Kruse style’?
Kruse: “Not particularly pretty, but efficient!”
bundesliga.com: Are you in the best form of your career?
Kruse: “I don’t know. Others have to decide that. I do think I’m playing at a very good level, but I think I’ve been at this level for a while. I don’t think age plays such a big role for me, I’m exactly as I was six or seven years ago, I don’t have any problems at the moment, and I’m on the massage table every day! You see with Claudio [Pizarro] that you can play in the Bundesliga at 40, so I’m just working day by day to make sure I can stay on the pitch for as long as possible. It’s nice to see that the performances I’ve been putting in are being recognised, and also that I’m in a position to be able to put good performances in at my age.”
Watch: Kruse's stunning performance against Bayer Leverkusen
bundesliga.com: Where did this amazing form come from?
Kruse: “There are times when everything just works, with the whole team and then for yourself personally too. That was definitely the case in March, or even it still is. We haven’t lost since the winter break, I think we’re the only side to do so, we’ve scored in every game, so we’re in a good position where we can create chances and score goals in every game. It’s just down to the hard work of the team and the coaching staff that we’re on this track. I’m obviously part of it, I’m also captain and a leader in some way, so let the good performances continue.”
bundesliga.com: Werder Bremen have scored in every Bundesliga game they've played this season. How is the team feeling about the record ahead of facing Bayern Munich on Matchday 30?
Kruse: “We don’t want to shout too much about it in case we suddenly don’t score at the weekend! It’ll definitely be one of the toughest games to score in. But it’s just that confidence we have, we’re set up so well offensively that we always have the chance to react, and at the moment, since the winter break we’ve shown how we’re capable of coming back and turning matches, playing our game and not getting nervous under pressure. It’s obviously mostly down to the work of Florian Kohfeldt and his coaching staff – they always set us up well against each opponent – but you also have to recognise the quality we have in the team.”
bundesliga.com: What has it been like as the captain of Bremen this season for the first time?
Kruse: “Yeah, it was a task I knew of when I took it on. At the start of the season Flo and I talked about it a lot, and he asked me if I wanted to be captain. For me it’s about developing yourself, and the next step for me was to take an official position to put myself in focus more and put myself in a position where I could lead the team. That was what I aspired to. I have to say, it didn’t work out immediately – I’d never been a captain before, I think you need to get used to it a bit if you haven’t been captain before. These things take time, you have to learn the procedures and what kind of responsibility you actually have. But I think I’ve gotten the hang of it very well as the time passed, and since then it’s been going very well.”
bundesliga.com: With the end of the season looming and you and your team in such good form, have you been thinking about qualifying for Europe even more in recent weeks?
Kruse: “No, I think we believe as much as we did before the season began. We knew the quality we have, we’ve not been able to show that in all of our 29 games so far, but across the whole season is what counts. If you have a couple of games when you don’t play perfectly, that’s ok, but consistency is what matters. So we knew the quality we have in the squad but we also knew that everyone had to give 100 per cent every week. Only then can we work as a team, and when we do that you can see we have the quality to beat anyone. So I think we’ve earned our right to want to qualify for Europe in the last five games. Whether we make it or not, we’ll see.”
bundesliga.com: What would it mean to you to play in Europe with Bremen?
Kruse: “Yeah, I’ve said that I’d love to play in Europe, for sure. My main goal is to achieve that with this team. With the whole environment, with the team, the coaches, the fans, what we wanted before the start of the season was to achieve this goal. As long as it’s possible, we’ll give everything we can to make it.”
Kruse: “Yeah, I hope that it goes down to the final day, because that would mean we’ve got the points we need in the next couple of games. I don’t think the teams around us fighting for Europe are going to drop many points either, so we know it’s a very tough test, but like I said, if we’re as consistent as we’ve been in the last few weeks and we show the quality that stands us apart, we can beat anyone. And hopefully we’ll see that some more in the next few weeks.”
Watch: How Bremen have scored in every league game this season
bundesliga.com: First up, Bayern at the Allianz Arena. How are you feeling about the game?
Kruse: “We go into this game with the same hopes and ambitions of every Bundesliga game. We want to win in Munich. We know that it’ll be very tough, and that it’s one of the hardest away trips of the season, but we have a game plan and if we follow it I think we have a very good chance of getting something in Munich. Yeah, it’s that easy!”
bundesliga.com: Do you have a different plan to normal when you play away against Bayern?
Kruse: “Yeah, I guess you can say every side has a plan when they go to Munich, and it’s clear that not every plan works. We know what we’re up against, we know you can get beaten heavily in Munich. But I don’t think we should think about it because it can happen to anyone, like against Dortmund. But you can’t go into the game like that. You have to bring our run into it – I think we deserve to still be unbeaten since the winter break – so we’re going into the game full of confidence. But obviously we have respect for them and we know what we’re up against, and we know everything has to work in the right way for us to beat them.”
bundesliga.com: What do you need to beat Bayern at the Allianz Arena?
Kruse: “Bravery, definitely. Mind-set, definitely. But it comes down a bit more than just those two. So like I said, everything has to go right. I think Bayern need every point they can get, and they know that because Dortmund are up there too and the title is in the balance. So we know they want to sweep everyone before them away. But we have the Bundesliga game and then the DFB Cup game – two matches we’d love to win because we have our objectives too. But we’ll see how it goes. We can’t predict what’ll happen but we’ll give our all to win.”
bundesliga.com: You just mentioned the DFB Cup semi-final against Bayern next week. How are you feeling about that game?
Kruse: “I think the games have to be considered separately. Bundesliga and cup are different beasts – obviously it’s nice to have a home game, especially in the cup semi-final. There’ll be a lot of people there next week, the fans will totally support us and push us on. But Bayern are just as strong on the road as they are at home, so I don’t think there’s a huge difference. I’m really not thinking about it yet, to be honest. First we have the Bundesliga match and we want to stay unbeaten, then we have the dream of [reaching the cup final in] Berlin and we’ll start thinking about that from Sunday or Monday.”
bundesliga.com: If you make it, it will be your first DFB Cup final. What would it mean to play in that game, and even win it?
Kruse: “Of course, you always dream of winning trophies, and winning in Berlin has been a goal for a long time. I experienced it from the stands back in 2009 when I was still at Bremen before I went to St. Pauli, and that was an amazing atmosphere. It’s the only cup final I’ve seen live, but I would have loved to have played. I couldn’t, but now I have the chance to do all I can to make sure we make it this year.”
bundesliga.com: What makes up the DNA of a club like Werder Bremen?
Kruse: “I think the DNA of Werder Bremen is easy: we’re a kind of family. Fans together with team, with coaches, with club employees. I think it’s hard to compare with any other team. I haven’t played at every Bundesliga team, but you can see the difference compared to those where I’ve been – there’s a special relationship between city, club and fans. There are lots of people who get involved with the club and everyone stands for the club. That’s the main positive of Werder.”
bundesliga.com: How has it been living in the city of Bremen?
Kruse: “Bremen isn’t a big city. It’s very cosy, very familiar like I said. It only takes 10 or 15 minutes to get to everything you’d want in the centre: restaurants, bars, whatever. It’s got that comfortable feeling – you can sit in a bar in the centre, eat breakfast outside, it’s very special.”
bundesliga.com: And what is it like to play in a stadium like the Weser-Stadion?
Kruse: “Unique is the right word. It’s what I’d have used for the atmosphere in the stadium. What makes it so special? I don’t know. I think it’s the fans that always stand behind the team no matter what. It depends on how we approach our games too: the fans know that we want to go forward and want to be brave. Coming back to the question about DNA, that’s the DNA we want to have in the team and in the city, that bravery to go forward no matter what happens and no matter who you’re playing. I think we’ve lacked that a bit in the last few years, but since Flo has been head coach he’s brought us back to that way – I think that’s what the fans want see. It’s what made us stand out 10 or 15 years ago with Thomas Schaaf during the glory days, and that’s what we want to go back to. That was always Werder Bremen and it should always be Werder Bremen. The fans go forward and we do too.”