Rottach-Egern - With several new recruits on board and just four 2014 FIFA World Cup participants yet to return to the squad, Borussia Mönchengladbach are well under way with their pre-season preparations as they look to take another step forward in the coming campaign.
Keen to up his own game as well as the team's, midfield speed sensation Patrick Herrmann chatted to bundesliga.com about the club's intense schedule, his objectives for 2014/15 and what might be possible for Gladbach on their back of last season's sixth-placed finish.
bundesliga.com: Patrick Herrmann, this is the third time you’ve taken part in a summer training camp with Borussia Mönchengladbach in Rottach-Egern. How does this year compare?
Patrick Herrmann: I’ve got a different room-mate in [right-back] Julian Korb. I’ve known him since moving to Gladbach six years ago. We were in boarding school together, used to live next to one another and we get along really well. With our former team-mates Lukas Rupp and Marc-Andre ter Stegen having left the club, we came together automatically.
bundesliga.com: Ahead of this training camp, head coach Lucien Favre promised some “very, very intense” sessions. How strenuous has training been so far?
Herrmann: It really has been very, very intense so far. On our very first day we were doing extra running exercises after training, which required a lot of substance. We were all given mandatory individual fitness regimes to follow during the summer, irrespective of whether we were on holiday or back home. I used the opportunity to go running with my dog a lot. Getting back into the rhythm of training twice a day still takes its toll, but that’s normal.
bundesliga.com: Last season, after getting knocked out in the first round of the DFB Cup, Gladbach were able to focus their efforts solely on the Bundesliga. In the upcoming campaign Borussia could qualify for the group stages of the UEFA Europa League via the play-offs. Do you believe the team is well equipped to deal with competing on three fronts?
Herrmann: I think so. We gained experience of the Europa League in the 2012/13 season and know that it’s an enormous burden in terms of the physical toll it takes. But we’ve got to be ready to rise to the challenge and give our very best.
bundesliga.com: You featured in the starting line-up in each of Gladbach’s 34 Bundesliga matches last season, but broke a rather unwanted record by being the most-substituted player in a single season after being withdrawn on 29 occasions. What did you make of that?
Herrmann: Over time I’ve realised that I seem to get brought off relatively frequently. Of course it’s never nice for a player to be substituted off. As a competitive athlete I want to play every minute, even if it is physically taxing. On the other hand you’ve got a respect the decision made by the head coach. If it’s a decision that benefits the team, then I’ll always accept it. Now that we’ve got the Europa League on our plate and the extra exertion that requires, I might have to save myself a minute or two of energy here and there.
bundesliga.com: Your goalscoring record over the past three seasons underlines your consistency. You’ve scored six goals in each campaign. Will the streak continue?
Herrmann: It’s definitely strange that I always seem to score six goals. I’d be delighted if I could add one or two to that tally though. If I were to provide ten assists on top of that then that’s also okay, but I really want to break the seven-goal barrier.
bundesliga.com: Your team-mate Christoph Kramer was an unexpected choice in Joachim Löw’s 23-man 2014 FIFA World Cup squad and is now set to return as a . Have you already had the chance to congratulate him?
Herrmann: He’ll have received a lot of messages recently, so I thought I’d leave him in peace and let him enjoy it. However, myself, Max Kruse and Julian Korb sent him a picture instead. All the lads are delighted for him. No one saw it coming that he'd play in the final, but that’s the quality he possesses.
bundesliga.com: You represented Germany at every youth level starting with the Under-16s and have already been involved with the full national team. How do you see you chances of breaking into the squad on a regular basis?
Herrmann: The chance is there, without a doubt. Everyone has those opportunities in their own hands. Naturally, you also need a bit of luck when it comes to the timing. I’ll definitely keep working hard to improve and hopefully it will culminate in another call-up.
bundesliga.com: Gladbach's first game of the season is against VfB Stuttgart, a team the Foals haven't beaten at home in nine years. On Matchday 2 you travel to SC Freiburg, where the side haven’t picked up a Bundesliga win since 2002. How optimistic are you that Gladbach can make a good start to the campaign?
Herrmann: We’ve put an end to a lot of streaks in the past few seasons. For example, we won in Dortmund, which hadn’t happened for ages. Things like that prove that everything can change really quickly in football and that teams can pick up wins even when it doesn’t appear possible at first glance.
bundesliga.com: What can Borussia Mönchengladbach achieve this season?
Herrmann: That’s the 64,000 dollar question. We’ve got to continue working hard and putting in good performances, just like we did last season. If we manage that we can definitely finish in equally as good a position as we did in the previous campaign. However, the Bundesliga is an even playing field so it’s difficult to say exactly where we'll end up.
Interview by Maximilian Lotz