Thomas Tuchel has been in charge of Borussia Dortmund for half a year. In that time, he has led the team back to the higher echelons of the Bundesliga table, yet despite that, the 42-year-old is hungrier than ever.
With Dortmund second in the table, leading the Bundesliga goalscoring charts and in prime position in both the DFB Cup and UEFA Europa League, Tuchel is desperate to see his team achieve even more success in the second half of the season.
In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, the Dortmund boss talks about his philosophy, the electric atmosphere at the SIGNAL IDUNA PARK and why he is always looking ahead to the next challenge.
bundesliga.com: Thomas Tuchel, how happy are you with your first six months as coach of Borussia Dortmund?
Thomas Tuchel: The time has gone so fast; we've had a lot of games, a lot of trips and a lot of training camps. I don't like to look backwards, I prefer to think about the future. I'm very grateful for the openness and trust which the club has shown me. I'm also grateful for how open the team has been. We are now on a good path, and it's important that we keep up our attitude and our momentum, and not look back over our shoulders.
bundesliga.com: You sound like you're more concerned with the process than with concrete aims.
Tuchel: I think that's fair to say. We can't predict what is going to happen, and we can't control it. But what we can control is how we respond to what happens. That's why we are back together and training hard. Our task is to exploit our full potential. That's true of the coaches, of the team and of the club as a whole. In the end, that will lead us to the results that we deserve and by which we will be judged.
bundesliga.com: Does chance play a bigger role in football than we sometimes think?
Tuchel: Definitely. Unfortunately, chance is a huge factor in football. That's why the game is so exciting. There is no other sport in the world where teams can come back from behind so often as in football. It's important to recognise that, and it would make no sense to ignore chance completely. But we're all fully concentrated on the things which we can influence.
bundesliga.com: How did you feel when you took charge of your first home game with Dortmund back in August?
Tuchel: I had sat on the away bench in Dortmund five times while I was coach at Mainz, and I thought that it wouldn't be much different to be on the home bench. I was completely wrong, it was entirely different. The bus journey to the game was different. You have these yellow clothes on, and everything around the stadium is yellow too. There's an energy, an excitement crackling in the air. It was like stepping into a new world when I sat on the home bench. I had goosebumps. There is such an incredible support in the stadium, you can't compare it with anything else.
bundesliga.com: What is your philosophy at Dortmund?
Tuchel: I'm somebody who tries to help the players be the best they can be. It was clear to me from very early on that the players enjoyed being in possession and playing the ball, and that they had a lot of quality in that regard. So that's the direction we took. The idea is not to follow my philosophy, but to work together to best use the qualities we have. The ball becomes a tool to make us feel comfortable. I don't think any child starts playing football in order to defend, and I see that childlike happiness in the eyes of my players.
bundesliga.com: Dortmund have already scored more goals this season than they did in the entirety of last season. How did you manage to improve the efficiency to that extent?
Tuchel: It's an extraordinary strike rate. I know how difficult it is to score goals in the Bundesliga. The easier it looks, the harder things are. We needed a good structure and a lot of quality to score as many goals as we have. It's about the quality of the players, but also about patience, and waiting to start attacking in a structured way. We try to create so much pressure that we can score plenty of goals time and again.
bundesliga.com: How do you see your position in the table at the moment? Where do you aim to be at the end of the season?
Tuchel: It may sound unbelievable, but I don't know how far ahead we are of third place. I know how far behind the leaders we are, because people always talk to me about it. We need to just keep going and value every single day. Bayern, after all, have been a role model for years. They start again every three days, set themselves the highest standard and then constantly deliver. We need to find our own tempo and our own limits. I don't know where our limits lie, but it would certainly be limiting to set ourselves targets in terms of points. Nobody said we would score 47 goals by this point, and we would probably have set a lower target ourselves. But that can be limiting. It's good to be in second place, and we've earned it. But I know how much effort and openness to learn is behind it. We need to do all of that again.
bundesliga.com: What do you expect from the rest of the season?
Tuchel: I hope that we can keep pushing our boundaries. That means carrying on as we are and staying strong as a group. There is a lot of hard work ahead, but if we finish the season the way we started it, we can be very happy going into the summer.