Two defeats in a row, seen a reaction in training and what would you like to see vs Southampton?
Well not much because we didn’t train a lot, yesterday was recovery and today the guys who played and travelled did not do a lot today. So business as usual.
I know it’s always about reactions, and talking about reactions and what we demand, but we always demand the very best from us, no matter if we lost or won.
Nobody likes to lose, the opposite: we hate to lose. But we looked it up, we lost against Arsenal and after that at Wembley, two matches also last season, then came back strong against Leicester.
First of all we need to respect the quality and personality of opponents but also we are not really bad.
It’s not long ago that we played very, very good matches, the second half at Tottenham for example. It’s not that long ago but it just feels long ago because there are so many games in between We miss a little step from 90 per cent to 100 per cent.
It’s not that we have to question ourselves deeply and start to doubt each other. It’s about stepping up of course, it’s about improving.
The games are very different from each other, two extremes. City is about high pressing and ball possession, Juventus is about deep defending and no ball possession.
So we played against the extremes, and we can predict we’ll play against another extreme team with high pressing in Southampton and it’s most important to keep a clear head and be well prepared and this is what we do.
You and Ralph Hassenhuttl are good friends, what are you expecting from Southampton?
Well we meet each other now regularly, because we played against each other in B and now here.
We meet of course in coaches meetings but it’s also a lot over the years, he’s very friendly and we met once in Paris for some days.
So he’s a very nice guy, humble, entertaining and funny. The teams he has trained have always had the same philosophy. High intensity, very aggressive, high pressing and ball recoveries, and on a very high level.
They have a very fast, aggressive team. They’ve had good results against both Manchester teams, so this is what we are expecting, good coach, good team, a nice guy, but that does not count for 90 minutes.
What is the injury latest and was Reece James called up for England with your blessing?
You would assume so, no? But when I saw it I thought that maybe Reece goes with the water polo team for England, because right now he trains in the pool.
So I was a bit surprised, but I understood that he was selected for the football team. So this will not happen because Reece is training in the pool right now.
And for Mason is in the squad, he’s back, it was not a long injury, a minor injury. We’re happy that he’s back and it’s obviously a given that he’s nominated.
He’s happy to be nominated and will give everything to do his best for the England squad.
Ben Chilwell missed out though, right choice?
For him personally, no, it would be nice to be selected. He’s happy to play for England, proud, and has the quality.
He had a bit of a rough start, was a bit unlucky and has his own story like every player. But this is it, I’m sure Chilly understands he has to earn it, and earn it with minutes.
He did not have too many minutes so we can understand why he was not selected. It’s not a big drama, he can accept it and there’s no need to worry about it.
Once he plays more minutes with us and with quality he will have the chance to be selected again. But it’s one step at a time.
Tino Livramento left in the summer to join Southampton, disappointed to see him leave?
Yes of course he was highly rated, we did everything to keep him here, to show him his future and his possibilities to compete also for a position in our team.
He decided to go, that’s his decision, that’s one we have to accept with no hard feelings because we can show him the possibilities and then it’s on the player.
He was of course competing with Reece James and Azpi on the right wing-back position, so I think it was an ideal position for him to fight.
The group is not too big so there was a big chance also to make it all the way. If Tino decided to go that’s fair enough, we wish him all the best and this is what it is.
Of course we saw the potential, he decided to go another way and fight for place at Southampton and that’s how the business is.
Have standards slipped or just two really good opponents in your last two games?
Two very different opponents, extreme styles of play but of course both clubs have personality, experience, and the players to hurt you.
This can happen in any match of football, we know this, if it happens it does not feel good.
Did we play at our very best level? No. We had the feeling against Man City made us underperform on this very special day at Stamford Bridge.
We felt very well prepared in totally different circumstances to play against Juventus. Could we reach our very best level? No. It’s hard if you’re responsible for the rhythm, the energy, for the intensity.
It’s a concentration game in the end. It reminds me of our game in Bucharest, against Atletico, we finally ended up playing almost a similar game, winning 1-0 to a goal that was ruled offside and then given by VAR.
We didn’t have many chances, maybe no chances at all. We didn’t give away any chances either, but it was without spectators so maybe it was a bit easier to be calm, focused, concentrated.
Now it gets a bit tougher to play against big teams like this away with big personality. We will not be the last team to lose against Juventus.
The difficulty and the danger in these matches is that the result in the end tells you the story about the match. If you lose 1-0 you’re not sharp enough, you lack intensity, and everything falls into place when you win the result.
If you win 1-0, or maybe Romelu scores and you go away with a draw, we go like, we stayed calm, we stayed passionate, we waited until this one chance came and you speak about this game very, very differently.
It is very hard to be constantly responsible for the intensity, the attacks and against a team that defends so deep it was almost the same first-half we played against Man City and it was very, very hard to create chances against us.
It was very, very hard for Manchester City to create chances and expected goals against us, almost impossible. The goal for them was a deflected shot. Of course, we need to defend the goal much better, it was a very poor goal we gave away and this is the lesson. From there on, I feel we need to step up again from 90 per cent to 100 which is not an easy thing but is on us to do.
Romelu Lukaku looks isolated, still an adjustment taking place for him and the team?
Yes and no. He was fully involved in the first game against Arsenal, the second half against Tottenham he was involved in creating chances for Timo Werner, Mason in the first half.
I think that football right now is about connections, Romelu I feel has a strong connection with Mason Mount and Mateo Kovacic. They look for each other and have an understanding, everybody else maybe lacks it a bit so they need to learn and understand and adapt, create better of course.
Like I said, we have games where he was fully involved but now we have games like against Manchester City where of course he was isolated, City made him that, our transition did that as well. There will always be matches like this. There is no place to go.
Sometimes you have these games so maybe this one is not a reference game. We will talk maybe totally different if he had scored in the 80th minute [against Juventus] which was a chance he normally scores.
It is right but nothing major to worry about. We are aware of it.
Reece James – surprised no-one from England told you about his call-up?
It’s normal, imagine if every national coach calls up the coach. I am very bad at answering calls anyway so no-one could reach me to get angry. The club is in touch, but these things can happen.
How significant has Mason Mount’s absence been in the last two games?
We need to be careful. We took him out at half time [against Spurs] because had a bit of a rough half and everybody was so high on us in the second half when he was not on the pitch.
It is not on single players. Of course, we want to have Mason on the pitch and we know the energy he gives and we miss him but we cannot start reproducing performances on the thought of players who are missing.
Every team in the world would miss N’Golo Kante when he isn’t playing, we miss Mason when he is not playing at his highest level, that’s why he is a top player. Do we miss Reece James? Yes, of course but still there would have been a selection headache because we could only start with 11 players against Juventus.
Do we miss Christian Pulisic? Of course we do, his sprints and intensity. We have a squad and we have the duty, and me as a coach, to find the solution and it is possible to win games without Mason Mount and hopefully he knows how much we respect and love him and want him to be in the team.
But if he is injured, we can win games without him.
Players look mentally and physically tired – is that concerning at this stage of the season?
Yes but also it is no surprise they feel like this when they have played so much for the national team and travelling. Just because I feel like this it doesn’t mean I am absolutely right but it feels like maybe we are carrying a bit of expectation and a bit of weight on our shoulders, perhaps on our own expectations.
So yeah, somebody told me years ago if players look like this then you can threaten them or calm them down. 99 per cent of the cases it is better to calm them down and I will never forget that.
The tendency is to keep the players calm, trust in what we do and what we are, support the group and then the players support each other and their way out.
They are looking for the last ten per cent, be that sharp or more mentally fresh but it is hard to enjoy games against Juventus, this is what they do. We are not the first team to experience it, this is what they do and sometimes you suffer mentally in games because things don’t go so fast.
I want to say we should focus on the solutions, not the problems because they are not too big. The results are not what we expect but we still have trust in ourselves.
How do you counteract Southampton’s high press?
I will not tell you. We have ideas and solutions.
They are a team that plays with high pressure, in general you need to be aware of it, you don’t have time to think when you are on the ball. We need to anticipate the situations, be very good with timing and distances of our passing to escape the pressure in our half.
There are various possibilities, perhaps long ball as well but then you need to have good position before. I wont talk about it in details but the most important is that we are away but it is important that we don’t judge teams by their names, their rankings or their previous results.
We talk about what we se in their behaviour and we need to be aware of an aggressive and intense team in our half.
10 different scorers this season in 12 goals scored – what does that say about your team not having to rely on one player?
At the moment that is maybe a good thing but in the end we also want to rely on a couple of guys to score always to give us everything.
So we have need to find Romelu and our other strikers more often give them chances and this is what we have to do, to attack no matter where on the pitch if we have the ball or not.
We have raised our intensity against the ball in the opponents half against Juventus which was a good thing, we had a lot of high ball recoveries from counter pressing but unfortunately we could not take advantage, we missed opportunities to create chances out of the high ball wins, there were a lot.
We want to also have the answer to the pressing pressing from Southampton with our own counter pressing to give them a taste of their own medicine.