Cologne - FC Schalke 04’s 3-0 win at SV Werder Bremen was near enough a perfect start to 2015/16 for the Gelsenkirchen club.
After the disappointment of last season, when the team were criticised by their own supporters for a laboured and pedestrian brand of football, the Royal Blues’ start to 2015/16 has fuelled fresh optimism of a return to the excitement and emotion that Schalke teams of recent years have delivered. Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting for one believes that the positive feeling about the place is justified.
Fresh from his goal at the Weserstadion last weekend, the 26-year-old spoke exclusively to bundesliga.com about how well the team have taken to new coach Andre Breitenreiter’s ideas and why playing the right kind of football is the key to keeping the fans on side.
bundesliga.com: Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting, it wasn’t long ago that the love affair between Schalke and the supporters seemed to have hit the rocks, and then suddenly things seem perfect again [after Matchday 1’s win at Bremen]. How do you cope with those changing emotions?
Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting: Football these days is such a huge spectacle that emotion becomes even more pronounced. Schalke is a special club with special emotions, and things can go slightly wrong a little quicker here, but if you’ve been a professional for long enough, you know that that’s part and parcel of the business, that you can cope with it and that things can change. We’ve started this season well and we’re playing attractive football again. That has to be our primary goal and how we’ll get the fans on side permanently.
bundesliga.com: Andre Breitenreiter appears to have sung all the right notes since arriving. How exactly is a coach able bring players onto his side immediately?
Choupo-Moting: It’s the way he speaks with us. He’s spelled out very clearly what we can improve, which is basically that we need to be more compact as a unit and need to be in slightly better physical condition. But he also has this laid-back attitude. It started at our pre-season training camp when he’d reward us if he was especially pleased with how we trained by giving us an afternoon off, for example. Basically it comes down to this: Mr Breitenreiter is an authentic guy, and the fact he’s also true to his word makes us even more ambitious, even in those training sessions that might be less fun.
bundesliga.com: Apart from the coach, what else is different about the club this season?
Choupo-Moting: We all know that last season wasn’t good enough and was a tough year, and we all know that we need to work hard if we want to be successful again. Last season, teams we were expected to beat were able to dominate us, and that shouldn’t happen to Schalke. This season, it looks like all of us are enjoying themselves again, and everyone takes very seriously how he deals with his team-mates.