Voss-Tecklenburg: "There are seven or eight nations aside from the USA who will be going for the World Cup title"
The Germany women’s national team have started the World Cup year at a training camp in Marbella. Head coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg spoke in an interview about her new job, the tasks that lie ahead in the week of training in Marbella and the first few friendlies.
Question: Mrs Voss-Tecklenburg, the training camp in Marbella will allow you to finally get going properly as new head coach of the women’s team. Are you more excited or more anxious?
Martina Voss-Tecklenburg: Definitely more excited to finally be doing what I love most: Working on the training pitch and being with the team.
Question: You are in Andalusia for a week. What will the main focus be on?
Voss-Tecklenburg: On the one hand it will be about getting to know the players and how they play. We’ll be running lots of different training drills, which will allow us to compare players one-to-one and in pairs and which will require great initiative. Secondly, it will be about getting to know the players as people. I hope to speak to every player individually.
Question: The World Cup is less than five months away. What would you like to see after the first bit of pre-tournament preparations in Spain?
Voss-Tecklenburg: I’m not just thinking about the World Cup, I’m thinking more long-term, which is why we are taking a lot of younger players. We want to see what they are ready for, what they can bring to the table. In the four pre-tournament friendlies it will be about finding a certain formation, rediscovering a flow in our game. I want the players to be confident, to want to play football, to show courage and be decisive. That will be the most important thing to come out of this training camp: that the players are ready to take responsibility in every position, regardless of age and experience.
Question: What kind of football should we expect from the women’s national team under Voss-Tecklenburg’s management?
Voss-Tecklenburg: What is important to me is that we have a clear idea of how we should conduct our build-up play. That will only be possible if the ladies go out onto the pitch with the necessary confidence. If they know we can be creative and flexible. I would like us to become unpredictable, so we won’t be sticking to a rigid system.
Question: Under Horst Hrubesch, a lot of work went into game tempo. How important was this?
Voss-Tecklenburg: This is the basis on which we are building, because it corresponds with our concept. Now we’re working on the more specific aspects, including which player is important in which position.
Question: There is also the question of when and how you will decide on your new captain...
Voss-Tecklenburg: We will assess the situation in peace over the course of the training camp. I will speak to my players individually to gain my own perspective. I would like to know if they are ready for certain challenges. In time for the next training period there will be a clear statement on this.
Question: How do you recognise leaders within a team?
Voss-Tecklenburg: Through good observation: How do players behave on the pitch, how do they deal with difficult situations, which we sometimes construct deliberately. Give them an obstacle and see how they deal with it. For me, body language and handling criticism are important aspects as well, as is behaviour in day-to-day situations, of course – in discussions and meetings. It’s always about direct and indirect communication and the right observation from everyone in the coaching team.
Question: When he left his position as head coach, Hrubesch said following: "If this team continues the way they’re going, they will be difficult to beat at the World Cup." When will it be known whether the title is a realistic target?
Voss-Tecklenburg: I will see what the team is up to in the first of our friendlies. At the end of April I will be able to assess what is realistic for us. A World Cup is an unusual situation though, where we could already meet a tough opponent in the last 16. For this reason, our first aim will be to win the group. Obviously we will aspire to go as far as possible with the best possible performances. Everyone wants to qualify for the Olympics as well after all.
Question: That will be difficult enough in itself with the quality level in Europe alone even higher now.
Voss-Tecklenburg: In my opinion, aside from the USA, who are always a little better than everyone else, there are seven or eight nations going for the title. How far we come by the time of the tournament will also depend on how many leaders we have on the pitch – whether we are spared some injury problems and how much progress the younger players have made. It would be foolhardy and presumptuous to already say now what we can achieve this summer.
Question: Are there any women’s national teams whose progress has particularly impressed you?
Voss-Tecklenburg: Scotland are a good example: They have invested a lot and have concentrated on their strengths. Obviously you have to consider the benchmark at other top nations, but we too have our own mentality and our own strengths. This is what we are known for, this is what we must reflect on, we have to display this DNA of ours. We have fantastic conditions in Germany as well, but we need to make sure we are even more meticulous in our talent recruitment. This will allow us to always be competing for titles.
Question: The expectation levels in Germany are massive. How do you deal with this?
Voss-Tecklenburg: I am able to be completely relaxed about it, because I learnt to cope with pressure at my club. We had a lot of national team players at Duisburg and won three titles in two years. I am aware, of course, that Fußball-Germany is a particularly critical nation. You can’t let this get to you. We are well established, we are a work in progress, and we know that the World Cup is a major chapter in our story.