Mr Krecidlo, it’s the second time in a row that FC Bayern’s under-19s are here in Sindelfingen. What made you decide, in contrast to your predecessors, to get preparations started with an indoor tournament?
When you have the chance to take part here, you should take it. The top line-up with other youth academies like Schalke and Hertha BSC as well as the chance to play against international teams like Liverpool or Rapid Vienna make this event a great tournament.
Can a tournament like this also help players gain knowledge for the real deal of competitive games outdoors?
There are certainly some elements. A natural aggression, joy in playing and creativity are aspects that emerge here indoors. A certain ingenuity with the ball, especially playing with the walls, is demanded. In that aspect you can absolutely see which players are deceived and who has an eye for it. However, you shouldn’t make too many conclusions, as long as there’s engagement.
What is your verdict on the first day of the tournament?
Up and down. Like almost all teams, we struggled in the first game and it felt a little bit like being on ice skates. After a three week break we had only had one half training session before the tournament. So it’s not unusual that the coordination isn’t quite right.
In the first game we didn’t convert our chances, then we completely slept through the match against Rapid Vienna. The boys were very dissatisfied with themselves there as well. Against Hertha and Schalke we then put up good resistance, defending well particularly. When playing indoors that’s often the key to success.
Which aspects are you prioritising in preparations for the second half of the season?
It’s clear that we’ve conceded too many goals. That needs to be said straight up. We want to work on that. Tactically as a team and in terms of work without the ball. On top of that we created a lot of chances, but passed up too many.
We’ve done analysis and seen that in comparison to the competition we need too many clear-cut chances to score a goal. The main attention is on defence, though.
In the Youth League game in Amsterdam in particular the team passed up numerous high-quality chances. Can something like that be worked on in training and can that pressure situation be simulated at all?
Yeah, that can be done. On the one hand you can train the technical abilities of finishing in isolation, on the other hand in training we create forms of games where there’s time and opposition pressure. Then the boys have to apply the technique and learn to think quickly. We’ve definitely got a lot of catching up to do in that aspect, Amsterdam only being one of many examples.
At home at the campus in particular we’ve had several games in which we missed chances and then conceded a goal. That causes a certain loss of confidence and as such we make our own lives hard.
Tactically you frequently switch between a back-three and a back-four. Now and then the back-four also operates in a dynamic variation with one very attacking and one very defensive full-back. What is the thinking behind that?
One of our basic principles is that in our build-up play we always want to have one more player than the opponent. When the opposition defends with one striker, for example in a 4-2-3-1, then we only need two players for build-up. With a 4-4-2 we need three build-up players in order to be able to by-pass the first line.
The boys know that and correspondingly one of the defensive midfielders then drops between the centre-backs or one of the full-backs pushes up and the back-four operates asymmetrically.
In recent years, not only general media coverage has seen an increased focus on tactics, but online platforms such as spielverlagerung.com have also established themselves. In René Marić, one of the founders has gone on to become assistant coach at RB Salzburg. Are tactics sites something that you actively follow or where you even get inspiration?
Of course, I really enjoy reading it. There are often very well-written articles, especially on Spielverlagerung. I find it astounding how quickly what is seen on the pitch is then put to paper.
With the discussions around tactics I sometimes have to chuckle a bit. Some say there’s much too much tactics, others say the boys just have to be educated individually. But if you educated the boys individually, then that’s also a tactical behaviour, in this case an individual-tactical behaviour. For me tactics means that the boys know what they have to do on the pitch when he has the ball. I find tactics very important to give the boys various options for acting.
Do the players in the under-19s particularly have to be prepared tactically for the senior level?
Of course! Our main task is to prepare the boys for senior level. It’s of enormous significance at that level that they can quickly implement the tactical, and of course also the group-tactical and team-tactical, demands of their respective coach. That aspect is an important component of the boys’ individual development which for us is right at the front of our thinking.
At RB Leipzig there’s a really strong demand regarding the playing philosophy, at least that’s the impression one gets from the outside. How much have those demands from Leipzig shaped your work and what do you do differently compared to the work in Leipzig?
With our senior players, those aspects – counter-pressing and extremely high positioning – have played a substantial role for years, especially under Pep Guardiola. Defending from the front, putting pressure on opponents and the ball, thus giving the opposition no time – ways of behaving that mark out the RB playing style – are therefore important components of our game.
Added to that there is of course the positional play typical of FC Bayern, which represents the main aspect in our idea, we want to create chances from positional play and exude dominance. Paired with the principles out of possession, the goal is to create the ideal mix.
Can those elements of positional play be implemented here at an indoor tournament as well?
Of course. It’s about positioning, about playing via the third man, so, finding the free man. Attacking open space in order to get past opponents. Those are challenges that the boys have to overcome indoors as well.
How have you set up training in comparison to your time in Leipzig?
The types of exercises and games are partly the same, however the accentuation is different. In the rondo, in the four-vs-four plus three for example, you can have different focus points, like transitioning aggressively as soon as the ball is lost. But you can also tell the boys that they should get back into position as soon as the ball is won back, open up the game as much as possible and let the ball do the work. So sometimes we have the same exercises and the same rules, but different demands that we give the players along the way.
Last season Jochen Sauer said that FC Bayern is in a transitional season, attempting to define a new philosophy using the experiences gained. What demands are there on the club and how many of their own ideas can the coaches bring with them?
The demand is clear, that we always want to play dominant football. If the boys join the senior players, then they should also be able to practise that type of football. Everyone who decides to work at FC Bayern in the academy knows about that FC Bayern DNA, wanting to have the ball and dominate the game. But every coach also of course has their own way of doing things and their own way of coaching.
In recent years, several under-19 coaches have made it into the Bundesliga in Dominic Tedesco, Julian Nagelsmann and Hannes Wolf. Tim Walter also recently went from academy level into the second division. Is it a dream that also lives somewhere in the back of your own head?
For me personally, making some kind of career plan is far from being on my mind. I’ve not planned any specific career moves either. If the task is appealing, then you should do it. Whether that’s at academy or senior level.
As a coach you grow with your task and it can of course be that at some point there’s the necessity to do something else. At the moment I want to keep learning a lot, with and through the players, and also particularly from someone like Hermann Gerland. On top of that there’s also the example of Norbert Elgert, meaning to define an era at academy level.
Let’s come back to the team: in Oliver Batista Meier, a key player has been missing for wide stretches of the season. In spite of that, last year’s performers from the under-17s like Jahn Herrmann and Benedict Hollerbach still haven’t quite found their place in the team. What do the two of them have to do better?
Our main focus in on the boys’ individual development. As such, we of course also work in particular with players who have come up from under-17 and haven’t quite got their chance. It’s a big jump from under-17 to under-19. You’re not among your age group anymore, you’ve got to assert yourself against older and more experienced players.
With Jahn and Bene, school gives them a double burden, in the coming months they have their A-Levels. But they’re both doing it very well and are on the right path.
In Daniels Ontuzans and Can Karatas we have two personifications of the word “unlucky”, almost missing the entire 1.5 years at under-19 level so far through injury. How are they both doing?
Dada (ed: Daniels Ontuzans) is doing well, currently in team training. He’ll join in with preparation normally, without being spared in some way with extra days off. We hope that this time everything stays together and that he’s available for the start of the second half of the season.
Can is currently back training of the pitch, but not yet with the team. The guy has had some extremely bad luck. After the operation there were always setbacks that weren’t quite foreseeable. When we came to FC Bayern, his ambition and his power impressed us. We’ll certainly be happy if he’s back available to us again soon.
Joshua Zirkzee was the one player from your squad who got to go with the senior squad to the training camp in Qatar. At the start of the season his performances were often rather mixed, before he visibly improved in November. This season he’s being confronted with players who are constantly strong physically, against whom he has had to learn to hold his ground. What aspects of his game do you work with him on the most?
With ball-control in particular, in our playing style, he has to have a certain pre-orientation: where’s the opponent, where are my team-mates. So far he has mostly had physical advantages over his opponents. He barely had to do any work with his body there. Now at under-19 level the other boys have caught up, possess the necessary robustness and street smarts to put him under pressure.
Now he has to learn to work more with his body. He’s made leaps forward in that aspect in recent months already. His time with the seniors will bring him further.
The second half of your season starts on the 3rd of February with an away game at FC Ingolstadt. What kind of goals will you set your players for the rest of the games?
We want to manoeuvre through the second half of the season better than the first, so to have more points to our name at the end. Specifically that means we have to concede fewer goals and score more goals. That would be the best confirmation that we have developed. What then comes about in the table, we’ll see.
More important than the title is the boys’ development. Last year we missed out on the final stages due to goal differences, but some players were able to develop to the extent that they got to sign professional contracts and moved closer to the professional side. That has to be the over-arching goal of the academy work at the FC Bayern Campus.
FC Bayern’s under-19s finished the 2019 Mercedes-Benz JuniorCup in third place. Information regarding the tournament can be found here. The interview came about during a press round on the evening of the first day of the tournament. The costs for MSR author’s transport and accommodation were taken on by Mercedes-Benz.