Mönchengladbach - After a week under the sun of Dubai in the capacity of Bundesliga ambassadors, Borussia Mönchengladbach's players and coaching staff returned last weekend to the altogether less clement climes of home to round out their preparations for the campaign restart at 1899 Hoffenheim on Saturday.
After having worked out in temperatures of around 25 C on the Arabian Peninsula, the Foals are now back to practicing in sub-zero conditions. Quite a contrast, as readily acknowledged in interview with bundesliga.com. The Germany U-21 midfielder, who had to sit out the Wednesday session with a niggling knee problem, also discussed training, tactics and the burden of having to nominally fill a very famous pair of boots...
bundesliga.com: Patrick Herrmann, how difficult was the transition from the Dubai sun to snow in Mönchengladbach?
Patrick Herrmann: Very difficult. We've just finished training, and with the cold it's quite an adjustment. Your toes and fingers are freezing in no time.
bundesliga.com: Gladbach came through their friendlies against Bundesliga opposition . How do you rate the team's current form?
Herrmann: We put in some good work at the training camp and the games demonstrated that we're in good shape going into 2013. We'll be looking to extend that unbeaten run a bit further yet.
bundesliga.com: And what about your own form?
Herrmann: I was very satisfied with how it went in the friendlies. I laid on two goals and earned a penalty as well. That was pretty good, but playing in the Bundesliga's a different kettle of fish.
bundesliga.com: From that angle, was it important to have a run-out against your direct rivals?
Herrmann: It's a psychological plus to start the new year with some positive results. It's better than losing twice. In that sense, it's good that we did well against a couple of Bundesliga sides.
bundesliga.com: Head coach Lucien Favre spent much of the first season-half searching for his optimal formation. Since you started operating in the hole behind the forward, Gladbach have only lost once in the league. To what extent might that be cause and effect?
Herrmann: Is that right? I wasn't even aware of that...
bundesliga.com: The one defeat was against Stuttgart.
Herrmann: We've been playing better since the team was reshaped, our interplay's improved. If the results are bearing that out, all the better. It's been noticeable out on the pitch as well. Obviously I had to settle into the position, but we gradually got the movement patterns fine-tuned and there was a game-by-game improvement.
bundesliga.com: In the recent friendlies you had either Peniel Mlapa or beside you up front, while Igor de Camargo and Mike Hanke were sharing the job at the end of 2012. Who are you harmonizing best with?
Herrmann: I don't have any particular favourite, they're all fairly similar in terms of their style. I'm happy with whoever gets picked.
bundesliga.com: Do your various strike partners have any specific strengths?
Herrmann: Whether it's Mike, Igor or Luuk, they're all equally keen to get on the sharp end of a cross. In the air and on the ground, they're all good footballers. It's only very small things that differentiate them.
bundesliga.com: Marco Reus played in your current position before his move to Borussia Dortmund. Are you fed up with being constantly compared to him?
Herrmann: I've got used to it, although it's not really a comparison of like and like. Marco's a world-class player, the best in Germany at the moment. He proves that week-in, week-out. It's difficult to measure me against him. I'm nowhere near his level yet. I just try to give my best in every game, but I can't be compared to Marco right now.
bundesliga.com: Borussia were notably dangerous on the counter-attack last season. So far in the current campaign, you've only managed one goal on the break. How do you account for the downturn?
Herrmann: We're playing a different style at the moment. At the training camp, we were using either a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 system. It's quite a departure from the football we played with Marco Reus, Roman Neustädter and Dante in the team. But it worked out pretty well in the first half of the season.
bundesliga.com: Reus moved on - Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspur were reportedly interested in signing you. Does the thought of playing abroad someday attract you?
Herrmann: There have been enquires from the odd club or other. As it stands, I'm happy to be playing here and to have the chance to show what I can do in the Bundesliga. It's one of Europe's strongest leagues after all, if not the strongest. I'm not thinking about anything above and beyond that, I'm on a contract here.
bundesliga.com: But you're flattered by the interest?
Herrmann: Yes, it's a confirmation of my performance level. On the back of the kind of season we had last time out, there's obviously going to be interest in the young players on the team.
bundesliga.com: What personal targets have you set yourself for the remainder of the campaign?
Herrmann: The first half was so-so for me, particularly with adapting to the change of position. I definitely want to up my game again. I've scored three goals so far, but it could easily have been more. That's something I want to improve on between now and May.
Interview: Maximilian Lotz