It is the end of the winter break and it’s not long until the second half of the season gets going with the derby at 1. FC Köln on Sunday (15:30 CET). We spoke to sporting director Max Eberl ahead of the return of Bundesliga action.
Max, the winter break is over. What are your thoughts on the second half of the season which is just days away after going into the winter break on 28 points?
Max Eberl: In terms of our points tally, we had a good first half of the season but there are still quite a few teams above us – perhaps due to our injury list and our lapses in concentration in a few matches. It gave us a good foundation to build on, though. The injured players are now gradually working their way back to fitness and we will be more stable with our summer signings who have now had six months to settle in. We have a great chance of being in the mix for the Champions League spots at the end of the season and that’s what we are all hoping to achieve.
The first competitive game of 2018 is just around the corner. On Sunday (15:30 CET), Gladbach have the derby against 1. FC Köln – just another game or is it more important than that?
Max Eberl: We are looking forward to the derby. We have had some good performances in Cologne in the last few years. The derby has an added importance this season particularly because we are not playing in Europe and also now because we have been knocked out of the DFB-Pokal. We put in a brilliant performance in the game against them at Borussia-Park and fully deserved the win. The position that the clubs are both in now shows how important a good start is.
What will Borussia’s success for the rest of the season depend on?
Max Eberl: We are a team that likes to play good football and find ways to break down the opposition. We want to be fighting it out at the top come the end of the season. But we will have to be robust and stay strong mentally, especially if we are in the top six towards the end of the season. There won’t be any easy games, we’ll have to battle for every point. That will be the case in Cologne on Sunday too.
What are the targets for the second half of the season?
Max Eberl: We have to all give 110% to seize the chance that we have given ourselves this season. We want to be in the running for the European spots until the end. We managed to do that last season due to a brilliant second half of the campaign. And now we are in a better situation than we were then. We want to be more solid in our performances and focus on one game at a time. We have our main goal of qualifying for a European competition. We want to give it our all so that we’ll have something big to celebrate in May.
West Ham United recalled their player Reece Oxford during the winter break. What’s going on currently in that situation?
Max Eberl: We spoke to West Ham a lot in the winter break and we were surprised when they decided to trigger the clause to recall him. The tone of the discussions before that had been slightly different. But I understand their intentions - West Ham are in a fight to stay up and they wanted to bring back a really good player to help them. However he hasn’t featured for them since being recalled so we are continuing to have talks with the club. I hope that no other club comes in and makes him an offer to turn his head. As long as that doesn’t happen, we have the chance of bringing Reece back to Gladbach. He developed brilliantly in the five months he was with us. He had to wait for his chance but when he got it, he took his opportunity impressively.