Freiburg - It has been a summer of change for SC Freiburg during the current transfer window, but the most prominent of their eight new signings Mike Hanke believes last year’s surprise package are in a promising position heading into the 2013/14 Bundesliga campaign.
Talking to bundesliga.com during the Breisgau outfit’s pre-season preparations, the veteran striker and former German international explains his reasons for leaving Borussia Mönchengladbach and his first impressions of working under head coach Christian Streich.
bundesliga.com: Mr. Hanke, you’ve been working alongside your new team-mates for a couple of days now in the Schruns summer training camp. How have the first couple of training sessions gone?
Mike Hanke: We’re currently working intensively in a technical and tactical context. Naturally right now it’s all about us finding ourselves as a team. We’re here for ten days in total though and still have four pre-season friendlies ahead of us. So there’s no doubt we’ll have enough time to get used to the way one another plays.
bundesliga.com: The first few weeks of training are meant to be really hard and apparently every Freiburg player had to complete twelve thousand-metre runs in a row during a recent morning session.
Hanke: The first couple of weeks were really intense and as a result there have been some heavy legs during this stage of our preparations, but now we can continue pushing ourselves, so it was worth it.
bundesliga.com: In the pre-season tournament in Bahlingen it was impossible to overlook the fact that the team had obviously undergone some strenuous training sessions.
Hanke: That’s true, yet the head coach [Christian Streich] also expressed that he wasn’t that fussed about the result, but instead that we were combative. Furthermore, he wanted us to implement some of the things we had previously discussed on the pitch.
bundesliga.com: Several new signings in recent years have encountered initial difficulties making the transition to Freiburg’s style of football. How are you coping?
Hanke: Christian Streich wants us to keep compact, disrupt our opponents at the earliest possible opportunity and with that approach to minimize the distance between us and the goal. That’s naturally contrary to what I’m used to as a striker.
bundesliga.com: Lucien Favre and Christian Streich hold you in high regard. Nevertheless Mönchengladbach and Freiburg don’t necessarily play a similar style of football, right?
Hanke: We played with a completely different philosophy in Gladbach. Under Lucien Favre our instructions were to drop deep, but to press our opponents in certain situations. The bottom line, however, is that we of course played a lot more defensive football than here in Freiburg.
bundesliga.com: Does that cater more to your style of play?
Hanke: That’s for others to judge. Every head coach has his own way of doing things. I definitely learned a lot under Lucien Favre and noticeably altered the way I played football. I think that’s also a reason why Freiburg brought me to the club.
bundesliga.com: What was behind your decision to sign for Freiburg despite interest from elsewhere?
Hanke: There were several different reasons, but not least because there is a great emphasis placed on all things football here. The individual quality may not be quite as strong, but therefore it becomes far more important that we function together as a collective.
bundesliga.com: You didn’t have the best of times in Wolfsburg, but in Schalke and Mönchengladbach saying goodbye in front of thousands of fans seemed to be difficult for you. Now at SC Freiburg you’re playing with a club where, similar to Wolfsburg, everything is a little bit smaller…
Hanke: True, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to compare Freiburg with Wolfsburg where I found everything to be rather impersonal. Here in Freiburg everything is very familiar, which I like a lot.
Interview: Christoph Ruf