Dennis Aogo was one of the driving forces behind FC Schalke 04's powerful start to the season. As his and his side's performances have ebbed a little of late, however, the gap to the top two has begun to widen.
In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, Aogo gave an honest assessment of his and Schalke's season so far, while looking ahead to this weekend's mouthwatering clash with FC Bayern München and analysing the talents of Leroy Sane...
Click here for a review of Schalke's start to the season
bundesliga.com: Dennis Aogo, FC Schalke 04 made a very good start to the season, but there have been some struggles of late. What has been the team's reaction to this situation?
Dennis Aogo: We don't feel we're in any kind of crisis. I think it's a combination of reasons, really. We made a very good start to the season because the new coach brought a lot of energy with him and was able to pass this positivity onto the team. We have to be honest, though, and admit that we had a bit of luck on our side in one or two games. Injuries, suspensions and the increased quality of our opponents in recent weeks have put our good start into perspective. That's not to say we haven't been self-critical – we know all too well that we need to perform better to get back to where we were a few weeks ago.
bundesliga.com: When you are part of a team, all pulling in the same direction, do you not discuss problems, then?
Aogo: Football is a sport in which you sometimes go through rough patches. In those times, you try to play to your strengths and hide the weaknesses. It's like having a competition for places in the team – you want to show the rival for your place that certain things don't get to you and that you are strong psychologically. It's very rare that you reveal your weaknesses to others in football.
bundesliga.com: When things were going really well for Schalke at the start of the season, you praised the way the coach was interacting with the team. What's your impression of the way he is dealing with the current situation?