The first weeks in your new position have concluded, how has everything been?
Matthias Kaltenbach: I enjoy it very much. I've already worked with Julian Nagelsmann, Michael Rechner and Benjamin Glück for two and half years and we know each other very well. It makes collaboration easier, as we know each other’s procedures. The other guys in our functional team also made my entry very easy going. The only thing that felt somewhat different at the start was standing in front of seasoned professionals. The team also received me very well. I will stay true to my values as a coach and not change my personality. I think so far everything has been satisfying. I haven't received any negative feedback which is enough praise in itself.
With Geiger, Atik and Kobel there are three youngsters in Hoffenheim's professional squad. What can they provide the team with?
Kaltenbach: Naturally, they are all very talented. They are diverse personalities playing different positions. Gregor is already very far in his development as a keeper for his age. He has a good presence and earned himself a spot in the professional squad after two good years with the youth team. He can learn a lot from Oli Baumann and Alex Stolz and accepts every advice he gets. Baris is confirming the impressions that I've had from him since his youth. He covers a lot of ground and is a good football player. He still has to impose himself physically though. Dennis is actually still a U19 player, but on a technical football level he is already more advanced than many players his age. He also has to improve his physicality, however. With his football qualities he doesn't need to hide from anyone. All three will require time, but I'm confident that they will prove themselves.
To what extent should these youngsters orientate themselves on the established players?
Kaltenbach: It's something we do point out to them, but they also have to realise these things themselves, that they can get help from the established Bundesliga players. It should be a privilege for them to be in training with the professionals but they've all done that already. They are trying to get the maximum out of their performances and at the same time pay close attention to what their team mates are doing. The lads are encouraged to copycat their established team mates at times, in order to learn and take the next step.
How has their development been so far?
Kaltenbach: Dennis was allowed to take part in the first training camp and made such a convincing display that he was granted to stay on board. That's already a huge compliment to his abilities. Fortunately, he kept his intensity high afterwards and doesn't shy away in training sessions. The pace is clearly much higher and this also forced him to step back a bit recently, but he's still doing a great job. Baris has a good presence and always wants the ball. He still has to improve in one-on-one situations. Gregor is a talented keeper, who naturally still has areas to work on. But all of their performances so far have justified their place in the professional squad.