Borussia’s sporting director, Max Eberl, spoke on the 1-1 against Werder Bremen, the league position, the decisions of the past few weeks and the future of Thorgan Hazard.
Max, what were you thinking the day after the 1-1 against Werder Bremen?
Max Eberl: Yesterday evening, frustration was obviously the most overwhelming feeling, considering we were the better team but didn’t win the match. I think that we had a good game and I’m very happy that the team was able to put the bad performance against Düsseldorf behind them. There was a spark from the team right from the off yesterday and that excited the fans, who supported us really well.
Dieter Hecking sent the team out with a different system. Up until now a 4-3-3 has been the favoured formation, but a 3-5-2 or 3-4-1-2 was used yesterday. Did the change work?
Max Eberl: Absolutely. A change was the right thing to do and I think that Dieter’s ideas worked very well. Obviously not everything works smoothly right away when you change the main setup of a team, but what we saw yesterday will give us confidence for the upcoming games.
Borussia are now fifth in the table, four points behind Eintracht Frankfurt and the Champions League places, and four points ahead of Hoffenheim in seventh. What do you make of that position with six games left to go?
Max Eberl: If you put where we’ve been earlier in the season out of your mind, being fifth place so near to the end of the season is a very good position for us and gives us the opportunity to achieve something special on matchday 34, namely European qualification. The Champions League is still a possibility, but the Europa League is what we now want to achieve at least – that should be our target. However, there are strong opponents below us who have exactly the same aim, like Wolfsburg, Hoffenheim, Bremen and Leverkusen. It will be an interesting battle right up until the end of the season.
After you recently made it public that there will be a new head coach come the summer and perhaps other structural changes as well, there have been no interviews about that topic. When will you be able to give concrete statements about that subject?
Max Eberl: I can’t say that. At the moment we have to live with the fact that it is a topic that will be speculated on. However, we will continue with the idea that the public will know as soon as things are absolutely certain. My task is to make decisions for the sporting side of Borussia that are consistent with the board and that are also in the best interest of the club’s future. If you look at what’s been achieved here in the last ten years and the level that we’re playing at in the Bundesliga, which has taken a lot of effort and creativity, then it should be clear that our structure needs to accommodate our aspirations and developments.
Like always, the end of the season comes with speculations about changes in the squad. Today Kicker reported that Thorgan Hazard is looking for a move. Can you say anything about that?
Max Eberl: We made our intentions to extend Thorgan's contract clear a while back now, but he hasn't reciprocated that interest. He has now told us that he doesn't want to extend his contract and instead wants to take the next step in his career by leaving the club. However, he still has a contract with us until 2020 and there is no release clause. Interested parties have to offer us a transfer fee that recognises his worth as an exceptional Bundesliga forward and a regular feature in one of the best national teams in the world. If it ends up being the case that Thorgan leaves us, then we will do what we’ve done well in the last few years - we will take the money we make from the transfer and use it to buy more exciting players for our team.
A last quick question on this weekend: Bayern’s 5-0 win over Dortmund. Is the league now Bayern’s?
Max Eberl: No. They only have a one-point lead. However, they are now the favourites because they have the title in their own hands.