Oliver Glasner obviously didn't feel too comfortable with his first public appearance after it was announced that he would have to end his work at Eintracht Frankfurt prematurely in the summer. But the outgoing head coach pulled out of the affair well and gained more and more confidence in the course of the press conference for this Saturday's Bundesliga match against Mainz 05 (15.30 CET in the F.A.Z. live ticker for the Bundesliga and on Sky).
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With his first sentence, the 48-year-old Austrian had postulated the guideline until his last day of work in Frankfurt: "I have decided not to say anything about my personal situation until after the cup final against RB Leipzig." Inquiries were unsuccessful.
What Glasner wanted to convey eloquently was his attachment to the club and to his task, which had not diminished as a result of the decision of the Eintracht board. "I'll do everything I can to ensure that Eintracht reach the Europa League, via the cup or the Bundesliga, preferably through both. Because the fans, the club and the team belong in Europe, they deserve it."
"Glasner will remain Glasner"
In order to achieve the goal, he will refrain from any distraction. Neither deal with the last intense days nor with the further past or with the echo in the media. "I'm in a tunnel, I don't look to the right and not to the left and not back." He is only concerned with one thing: "There are only two exits, one leads to Europe and one does not. I will do everything I can to ensure that we catch the exit to Europe."
Glasner made a single small personal, ironic remark about the external perception of himself by the media: "I came as a bore and leave as a highly emotional guy, that's what Frankfurt made of me." But although Frankfurt has made him more emotional: "Glasner will remain Glasner, I cannot and will not bend. I have my strengths, but also my weaknesses, and I will keep them."
When asked how the team received the news of his departure in the summer, Glasner did not want to answer directly. "Of course, the topic in the dressing room was, we've had a lot of topics over the past almost two years, I've always been in contact, daily – with individuals, with groups." In terms of content, the coach was not.
But it can be assumed that the team was asked what they thought about it before the board's decision to end the season with Glasner. A professional behavior of the players towards the coach can therefore be assumed. However, it is uncertain how the assessment of the situation will develop in the event of a defeat against Mainz 05.
"They both know what we want"
Glasner will not sit on the bench against the neighbours, he is prohibited from contact with the team after his red card against TSG Hoffenheim last Saturday half an hour before kick-off until half an hour after kick-off – even by telephone. "Of course, I'll stick to that," said the Austrian on Thursday.
He will lead the team meeting half an hour before the start of the game, then the two assistants will take over, with Michael Angerschmid being registered as "head coach" and Ronald Brunmayr as "assistant coach". "The two of them discuss each other as the three of us usually do. They both know what we want and what it takes to make it happen."
Glasner will take a seat in a box and watch the game from there. "You don't have much influence during the game, except at half-time. This time I'll just be a passenger, which will certainly be even more exhausting for the nerves. But the lads, like in every game, have our confidence that we can win the game."
Trust has been disappointed in the Bundesliga over the past ten times. Against Mainz, the winless streak should definitely end. "The cup final is still a long way off, we have to take every chance to get to Europe, the Bundesliga is the first. If we beat Mainz, we'll overtake them in the table. Then we will be one step closer to the European places," says Glasner.
Eintracht will be without Rafael Borré for his fifth yellow card and most likely Lucas Alario for knee problems. Which minimizes the alternatives in the attack and thus increases the chances of Paxton Aaronson. The 19-year-old American is one of the few positive Eintracht phenomena of the second half of the season. "He made a leap that we didn't expect," Glasner praised on Thursday the small attacker, who resembles Leo Messi a little in his movements.
The plan was to get Aaronson used to Eintracht and Europe in his first six months and to prepare well for the U-20 World Cup with the USA. "Now he's getting closer and closer to the starting eleven and that's why he's not going to the Junior World Championships."
Against Mainz, Aaronson's liveliness could be a weapon against the long opposing defenders. Glasner: "Paxton won't win a header duel, but on the ground he could win the duels."