Is the fact that you are going to have fewer matches in the coming season likely to be an advantage?
Last year, we had to start the season extremely early due to the qualifying stages of the Europa League. Now we’ve got over three weeks until the Bundesliga gets going, which means that we have the opportunity to prepare in a more intensive and consistent way. In that respect, you can certainly say that it’s an advantage.
What targets have you set?
To do better than last season (laughs)! We can definitely achieve more than we did last time out. Over the past two years we’ve played an incredible number of matches and by the end of it, we were tired – pure and simple. Now we’re not having to play on two different fronts, so we’re obviously going to have to use this situation to our advantage to press on.
Now we’re not having to play on two different fronts, so we’re obviously going to have to use this situation to our advantage to press on.Makoto Hasebe
What aspects are you specifically looking at improving?
We’ve definitely let in too many goals recently, no doubt about it, so we have to realise that we’ll only be as good as our defensive performances. We scored 59 goals which was a good effort, but the fact that we let 60 in at the other end means that you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
Are you aware that you will probably be the oldest player in the Bundesliga next season?
That’s right, Claudio Pizarro has retired and Oliver Fink at Düsseldorf is no longer in the Bundesliga. That’s not an issue for me though – I still feel good out on the pitch. The odd younger player has asked me how I’ve managed to play for so long at this level, and I always say that you don’t have a long career as a player – 20 years at most. So during that time, everything that you do has to take second place to football. I suppose that’s the secret to my success.