Thomas Tuchel has told bundesliga.com where Bayern Munich need to improve ahead of their Bundesliga title defence.
After taking over from Julian Nagelsmann in April, Tuchel steered Bayern to an 11th straight Bundesliga title, the record champions overtaking Borussia Dortmund on goal difference on a dramatic final day.
With his first pre-season behind him, the 49-year-old knows exactly what his team need to do to avoid another nail-biting fight to the finish...
bundesliga.com: Looking back on last season, it was a tense run-in. How did it feel to win your first Bundesliga title?
Thomas Tuchel: "It was a big relief, I have to say. It felt like we lost it before the last matchday in the home loss to Leipzig, where everything was in our hands, and we got it back with a lot of luck and the help of Mainz. It felt extremely good in that moment because it was so tense and unexpected. Of course, that brings out more emotions than if you're leading and everything is clear before the last days of the season. However, in general, it was not what we expect from ourselves. It was not consistent enough, it was not with enough energy. We couldn't transport energy from the pitch to the spectators and this is what we want and we need to improve to hit our standards and to make ourselves happy."
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bundesliga.com: How did you address the team when you gathered again for pre-season? What culture or structure do you want to instill in the team?
Tuchel: "For me, the structure always follows the talent and the characteristics of the players and the mixture of the squad. It was a bit of a strange moment to step into a season in April. Very strange. Even more so, given the fact that the team was playing for more or less all titles. The timing was a bit strange. Now we have the advantage of knowing a lot about the players. So, we knew what we wanted to do. So, very quickly after the training start we established our principles of the game in almost every training session. We follow our clear ideas for developing automatisms, the style of play and the principles of playing. This is what we follow right now because we believe that this is what the team needs at the moment; what gives us stability, what we should and shouldn't do, and where to be better. So, this is where we are at the moment and we started with it very quickly after training began."
bundesliga.com: What do you want to see from your team when it goes out on the pitch? What style of football do you want to see, do you stand for?
Tuchel: "In general, I want us to play faster, our general fluidity of the game to be higher, attack with more fluidity, hopefully take the game to the opponent and dominate in their half to keep the opponent far away from our goal. We want to implement an active style, a style where we take risks in the final third, but where we also play safe and dominant in the middle and in the defence. In layman's terms, we want to attack, we want to create chances as much as possible and we want to defend together. We don't want to allow chances. Possession is nothing if you just have possession, and it is not about just one part of the game. For me, what we were also lacking is a certain spirit, a certain spirit that everyone in the stadium can feel; that the team is fighting for each other and they will overcome obstacles and they will overcome hard times together during a match. This was missing. We need to be tougher, we need to be better prepared for tough moments. So, we have quite a lot of stuff to do."
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bundesliga.com: You went to the board with specific requests like for full-backs, a centre-back, a holding midfielder and a No. 9. What's the idea behind that?
Tuchel: "Well, the centre-back pretty much just happened. I'm super happy that Min-jae [Kim] decided in the end with great enthusiasm for Bayern Munich and for us because it was a bit unexpected. We fully planned with Lucas Hernandez and after the season the wish of the player arrived that he wants to leave and he has an offer. He had an offer, so we needed to see if we could get a replacement to compensate for the loss of his personality, experience and quality. We think we've found this. This was not planned and it's not that I make requests to the board. It's more that I gave my summary of the season. I explained what could help us as a team and took it from there. In my opinion, it doesn't make sense for too many positions to be up for grabs with too many candidates. So, we narrowed it down, which is sometimes difficult to do. A lot of work and tough decisions are part of the process. However, once we did it, we decided on a small group of candidates and to pick the right guys - the right guys who have the mix of personality and talent because, like I said, we have to be tougher in difficult moments within matches and we have to be tougher in general. We want to strengthen the spirit in the group. So, that is more or less the focus."
bundesliga.com: Regardless of the transfers, you seem to favour a back four. Is a back three also an option for you?
Tuchel: "I would never rule it out. We have a lot of offensive players in the squad. It would make it difficult for them to fight for their place, which would not be ideal. I think we have a squad that should always have four offensive positions on the pitch minimum, maybe even five, if they are in top shape. At Chelsea, we played with a back three, with full-backs and a double six in midfield. That leaves you with three offensive positions, and I think we have too many players for that. For the back three, I think we actually had a quite good fit and also for the full-backs we would have some players that would fit the profile. So, I would never rule it out if needed, but at the moment we plan to do it with a back four."
bundesliga.com: What's Kim like? What do you expect from him?
Tuchel: "I love him, I love him. He is so calm, so straightforward - his expression, his awareness, his game. A pass is a pass. A pass is not fancy, it's a pass with his inside foot. First touch is control, second touch is a pass. It's at the right tempo, it's not too hard, it's not too slow, it doesn’t bounce, it's not flashy. It's so nice because it's exactly what you want from a build-up player. His defending is very brave, he's fast, he's always looking over his shoulder at where he can help, at his positioning relative to our left-back, to the right central defender. It's a pleasure. The attitude – I think I had two players until now from South Korea and he is exactly the same, I have to say. So disciplined, so friendly, so humble, so focused. So, a very good impression so far."
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bundesliga.com: What did you gain as a person and as a coach in your time away from the Bundesliga? You managed two big clubs, especially the time with Chelsea when you went through a dramatic and difficult period.
Tuchel: "I can just tell you that I'm very grateful to have had these experiences and I wanted them to be longer, but obviously, this is a business where you cannot plan. It was a very nice and a very precious time in Paris. With all the fantastic players, the personalities and a very demanding club which has the biggest dreams and wants them fulfilled at the highest level. It helps so much to broaden your horizons, to step out your comfort zone, to challenge yourself, to adapt to a new way of living, a new culture of football, a new culture away from the pitch. It's so funny sometimes. A French player told me, 'Listen, when we have a meeting at 10 and I come in at five past 10, in France I'm the first to arrive.' When I come five minutes before ten in Germany, I’m the last. Both of them are professional, but they are different. They are different in handling certain situations and then it's your job to adapt. It challenges your beliefs because of course, I was born and raised in Germany and I grew up with German beliefs and German football, so it was very, very nice.
"Of course, the Premier League is a class of its own. The approach, the games, the stadiums, and the fans. It does something to the players. It's a very, very entertaining league. Inside the training centres it's a fantastic atmosphere. I can only talk first hand about Chelsea. It's very calm. Players are very focused and the fans – it's about football. It's very funny. It's a very wealthy league, it's a very shiny league, but the game days, when you have the chance - of course, you have and everybody else – you will experience a very, very pure form of a football match. They want to see the headers, they want to see the duels, they want to see the tackles and this is what they demand. Because they demand – everybody demands this from the players – it does something to the players. It is very nice and very fulfilling. You need this, I think. Every experience makes you better as a coach and you grow no matter where you have the chance to work, but to have the chance at this level, I'm very fortunate and grateful."
bundesliga.com: Being away and coming back - how did the Bundesliga change in that time?
Tuchel: "I actually don't know. It's a very intense game, with ups and downs. I still see the influence of Kloppo's [Jürgen Klopp] Dortmund style and I see the influence of Ralf Rangnick and the development of the Red Bull style. A lot of teams play almost man to man now in the opponent's half, so they play more and more a high-pressing game. You see all these trends in the Bundesliga. For everything else I perhaps need a little bit more time. I stepped in in April and I was very focused on our team, so there were not a lot of days where I watched other games. I just watched our opponents and watched our games to get the job done as well as possible. All of us, we need to improve, we want to do better, and then I will give you a better summary of my opinion on the Bundesliga."
bundesliga.com: The Bundesliga celebrates its 60th birthday this season. What was your personal outstanding Bundesliga moment as a fan?
Tuchel: "OK, I do this thinking on the spot. Werder Bremen: [Michael] Kutzop misses the penalty against Bayern to decide the title. I was at home - it was an evening match – and I think my father woke me up, I was already in bed, to I don’t know, in front of the TV or the radio; I think the radio, I don’t know if it was a live match, but this is an iconic moment for me. Another iconic moment, of course, is my first match live in a stadium, the Olympic Stadium. Again Bayern Munich, against Borussia Mönchengladbach. Hans-Günter Bruns dribbled all over the pitch from his own box to the other and he shot against the post to the other post and out. Then Lothar Matthäus played for Gladbach, huge chances for Gladbach. I was there with a little Gladbach flag and I remember a person sitting next to me and they were starting very strongly with huge chances and he said, 'Hey, little boy, you can bring out your flag now. They're looking good.' I was waving my flag and then it was 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, goodbye. Bayern won and I rolled it back up and went back home like always, after a loss to Bayern. So, now I'm on the other side and try to do the same to all the other fans."
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bundesliga.com: And as a head coach?
Tuchel: "I would say my first match as a Bundesliga coach against Leverkusen with Mainz and meeting Jupp Heynckes. I will never forget it. This is my special moment and the way he treated me - I will never forget him. This means a lot to me. He treated me so well, with such respect. I was a guy from the youth, way too young to be coach and he was Jupp Heynckes. An icon of the Bundesliga and one of my idols from Borussia Mönchengladbach and then Bayern Munich. It was so nice, so friendly and that never changed. So, this is one of my iconic moments. Then of course, two games later, my first win against Bayern Munich with Mainz. I remember I was sitting in my car after the game in the parking lot and I just screamed. I needed to scream for half a minute in the car, I think. I could not believe what happened. Then of course, silverware with Dortmund: we played two cup finals and won one, it was nice."
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