Gelsenkirchen - began the 2013/14 season in impressive style, scoring twice for FC Schalke 04 on the opening weekend against Hamburger SV, a goal-fest which ended 3-3.
Talking to the assembled journalists after the game, the Dutch marksman gave his verdict on Schalke's start to the season, Julian Draxler's injury, and new fellow striker Adam Szalai.
Question: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, two goals in the first game of the season - for a striker that’s a near-perfect start…
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar: That’s always good. Scoring twice in the first match is nice, but then unfortunately the two goals still didn’t give us the win over Hamburg, and that isn’t good. We've got to win every game at home in the Veltins Arena. If we’re honest though, the draw was the best we could have hoped for this time out. We had some chances to win, but really, they were too few and far between. At no point were we totally on top or dominating our opponents. We’ve got to start doing that as a matter of urgency, particularly at home.
Question: Is the draw a little bit of a setback mentally?
Huntelaar: It’s certainly frustrating not to begin the season with a win, that would have given us a better mindset going into the next few games. It also would have enabled us to carry our momentum from pre-season to pick up our first three points. We now feel like we’re two points behind.
Question: Where exactly did you struggle to win this game?
Huntelaar: We weren’t good enough. We couldn’t dominate Hamburg just by playing. We didn't impose our game on them. This wasn’t the form we were showing in pre-season, and at a higher level, that means you don't win matches.
Question: Julian Draxler had to depart early with an injury. Was that a reason why Schalke weren’t able to play as fluently?
Huntelaar: Obviously we missed his vision and creativity, but our game can’t be dependent on Julian Draxler. It should never be the case that a team relies on one player. We need the whole team to perform, and improve in the next match. It’s frustrating that several players are going to be away with their national sides because it makes it more difficult to discuss things as a group, as it’s important to learn from our mistakes.
Question: What have you got to say about your new strike partner Adam Szalai? He made a great start…
Huntelaar: Adam came into the game superbly, scoring the vital goal to make it 3-3. This goal was important, both for him and the team. It’s the type of start a striker could only dream of in his first game in front of the home fans. He’s an out-and-out centre forward and has a nose for goal when he’s in the box.
Question: Because of your personal efforts, disappointment isn’t as pervasive around the Veltins Arena as it could have been. What’s your view of what’s possible for Schalke this season?
Huntelaar: Last season we came fourth, and this time around we’re demanding more of ourselves. For that, though, we need to raise our level as a team.
Dietmar Nolte reporting from Gelsenkirchen