- Schubert is pleased to have signed a two-year extension.
- Poor away form comes down to 'finishing'.
- Schubert believes Borussia can "make life difficult" for any side.
Borussia Mönchengladbach coach Andre Schubert has just been handed a two-year contract extension, until 2019. Ahead of Saturday's big clash against FC Bayern München, the 45-year-old spoke to bundesliga.com about the pressures and expectations of coaching, the Foals' contrasting home and away form, and Bayern's remarkable back four...
bundesliga.com: Andre Schubert, you have already been in charge of Borussia Mönchengladbach for a year, and now it looks as though you'll be staying for at least a couple more. Were you surprised to have your contract extended so quickly?
Schubert: It's true that you'd expect this sort of thing to happen during the winter break, rather than two months beforehand. But approaches vary these days. Some clubs simply want to extend for another year – others are looking for long-term stability. At the end of the day, this is professional football, so it comes down to success. I've been working with Gladbach for a year now and we've had the chance to get to know each other. On top of the successes that we've achieved, the club management and I have built a relationship based on mutual trust. That's why the extension has gone through more quickly than people might have expected.
bundesliga.com: One year at Gladbach – is this an opportunity for you to analyse what you've done so far?
Schubert: I'm not a huge fan of analysing things too quickly - but that's not to say that I'm not thinking about our development, or how to improve our away record, for example.
bundesliga.com: Let's talk about your away record. When you're on the road, your team likes to dominate possession even more than at home. You actually have more of the ball than you do at BORUSSIA-PARK, but that rarely translates into results. How do you explain it?
Schubert: Our ball possession away from home isn't outrageous, but it's true that we like to play with the same confidence that we do at home, and we often play a more attacking game than our opponents. The big difference is finishing. At home, we are far more clinical in the final third. On the road, we don't create as many scoring chances, so we don't get as many goals.
bundesliga.com: Is it a psychological thing?
Schubert: That's definitely part of it. We're fearless at home – we play with a high tempo and we're always looking for the quickest route to goal. In the opponents' penalty area, we look for one-on-one situations and try to get shots on goal. When we're away, though, our attacks break down, or we just pass the ball from one side of the pitch to another. Modern football is about using your head, but there are various intangible factors that are hard to pin down. Confidence, for example, is hard to measure on a scale. If your forwards are lacking confidence and consistency, you're likely to also be more vulnerable at the back. That's definitely something we need to work on, but we shouldn't forget that our team is relatively young, especially in defence. Andreas Christensen and Nico Elvedi are both 20, as is Mahmoud Dahoud in central midfield. And there aren't too many old hands among the rest. Progression requires patience, but fortunately we have that with our youngsters.
bundesliga.com: Isn't playing with a three-man defence a tactical risk?
Schubert: We're an attacking side, and we want to make the most of our qualities going forward. But I think that the how we play – be it in attack or defence – doesn't really depend on our system. It's a question of the number of attack-minded or defence-minded players on the pitch, and our tactical plan. Our basic system includes a three-man defence, which many other teams use. What we do when we don't have the ball depends upon how many attacking players our opponents are using. If we lose the ball, one of our defensive midfielders or wingers can slot into the back line, to make it a four or five-man defence. A lot of people aren't used to that kind of flexibility.
The current Bayern team are playing a bit differently. The football there is outstanding. Andre Schubert
bundesliga.com: This weekend you're up against FC Bayern München, against whom you were the only team to stay unbeaten in the Bundesliga last season. Even if they are missing a few players at the moment, do you think they have become even stronger this year?
Schubert: It doesn't make a huge amount of difference if Bayern are playing five per cent better or five per cent worse, although that's difficult to assess that at this stage. Overall, they are unbelievably strong, and they've been playing at a very high level in recent years. Over the past decade, they've almost always managed to reach the last four of the UEFA Champions League, they've won one domestic title after another, and they have become incredibly dominant. Their back four alone, with Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels and David Alaba, is one of the best in the world, which is huge. And they also have the world's best goalkeeper.
bundesliga.com: Can you see what has changed under Carlo Ancelotti?
Schubert: The current Bayern team are playing a bit differently. Under Guardiola, they had a huge amount of possession and always wanted to exert total control over the game. Now, under Ancelotti, you can see that they are giving their opponents a little more space. It's not because they're being pushed back – it's because they want to create space into which they can counter-attack, with players who are very good and very fast. The football there is outstanding.
bundesliga.com: Your team is also playing some outstanding football – perhaps the most attractive football in the Bundesliga right now.
Schubert: That's a nice compliment, which I will pass on to the team. It's true that many sides now hope to have one of their best games of the season against us, and we're measuring ourselves against the likes of FC Barcelona and Manchester City FC, so perhaps we have shot ourselves in the foot with all of our good performances! (laughs). Still, we have to deal with it, because our young players aren't used to the attention. It's nice to receive compliments, but it's wrong for people to see us as a top European team. That's nonsense. Look at the number of international appearances that the players in our squad have made, and then compare that to teams like Barca or Man City, and you'll see that we are still a long way off being a top European side. We are a good Bundesliga team. And when we play to our potential, we're a very good team, who can make life difficult for anyone. But in this strong league, we are also capable of losing to any of our opponents.
Interview by Andreas Kötter