“My highlight has to be how we pulled together and solved our problems as a group”

Ole Werner in his end-of-season interview

Ole Werner sitting on the bench and looking towards the pitch.
Ole Werner looks back on a successful 2023/24 season (Photo: W.DE).
First Team
Saturday, 25.05.2024 / 10:00

A long and challenging season is now over. SV Werder went through several different phases throughout the campaign. Having been given a few days to reflect, head coach Ole Werner looks back at the last 34 games in his end-of-season interview. The 36-year-old talks about the challenges of pre-season, his personal highlights and his expectations for next year.

WERDER.DE: Hi, Ole. The season has come to an end. Werder finished the campaign in a respectable ninth place. How do you look back on 2023/24?

Ole Werner: It was a very demanding season where we went through many different phases. There was a lot of change from day one, as pre-season featured a lot of movement within the squad. This disruption was hanging over us a bit all season. At the end of the day though, it was a successful campaign for the team and the club, because we developed well in almost every area. That was the aim for this season.

WERDER.DE: It was clear in the summer that we could or maybe even had to make some moves in the transfer market. How much did that influence your planning as a coach?

Ole Werner: That had a big effect. It was also clear to me that it would be difficult to get our new signings integrated quickly. That’s a tough task, because you use pre-season to get your tactics through to the players. We had a lot of uncertainty at the start of the season and we can only form a group when we know which players will be there. Because we got to that point relatively late, this was a real challenge, which took time. The club clearly communicated to us that that would be the case though. We dealt with it well.

WERDER.DE:You’ve had a lot of belief in your players all season, even though the team have gone through peaks and troughs. How important is that?

Ole Werner: I have belief in every player in my squad. My job is to work with the players in both the good times and the bad times. I know the qualities they have. We have to make decisions about who’ll play every week, so it’s important that they can sense our belief in them. We’ve given a lot of different players minutes this season, and a lot of them have contributed to our success.

We played really, really well against teams that finished in the top third of the table this season.
Ole Werner

WERDER.DE: A look at the stats from the season shows that we’re right up there when it comes to goals from crosses and headers. Is that a result of your game plan?

Ole Werner: That is something that we plan to do and comes from our particular philosophy. We’ve played the whole season with a back three or back five. That means that the players on the wings get into positions where they can either cross or come in at the far post. We also play with two strikers, so we can commit a lot of players forward, which can pay dividends.

WERDER.DE: What was the highlight of the season for you?

Ole Werner: We had a tough start – the season could’ve easily gone another way after that. That’s why my highlight has to be how we pulled together and solved our problems as a group. We did that at the start and end of the campaign and I view it as a strength of the team and the club as a whole. It makes me feel good for the future.

WERDER.DE: How about specific games?

Ole Werner: The crazy 4-0 win over Mainz at home really kicked things off. I also faintly remember beating FC Bayern in Munich (smirks). It really sticks out in the memory, since we put in an excellent performance and fully deserved to win. The home match against Stuttgart was an important result in terms of showing what the team is capable of. We played really, really well against teams that finished in the top third of the table this season.

WERDER.DE: In last year’s end-of-season review, we spoke about how important it is for Werder to develop players and generate revenue from transfers. Does you find playing a part in this development exciting?

Ole Werner: Yes, that’s our job. It’s not unusual, as every club in Germany has its own way of running things and can’t afford to disregard selling players. We want to help players get to the next level and achieve success by improving. Justin Njinmah and Romano Schmid are two examples that show that we want to continue down this path.

WERDER.DE: And you also need an experienced core to support these promising talents if you want to stay in the Bundesliga.

Ole Werner: It’s important to have both. Young players can only improve if they play within a stable structure.  Seasoned pros are much more reliable when it comes to ensuring consistent performances and a stable playing style, and they help to instil these values in the dressing room. Our job is to try and strike the right balance.

It’s important that we put out a well-organised team that packs a punch in summer.
Ole Werner

WERDER.DE: Looking ahead to next year, is it realistic to have a full squad in pre-season?

Ole Werner: The squad is definitely still going to be a work in progress when we start training again. It makes sense and will be the case for every club. We want to try and have the team ready as early as possible so that we can work on the tactics and hierarchy. The Euros makes this particularly challenging, as some players are going to miss parts of pre-season. It also means that it’ll take longer to get transfers over the line.

WERDER.DE: Has the positive end to the campaign altered expectations for next season?

Ole Werner: Yes – definitely from an outsider’s perspective. Internally, we want to keep improving. We want to be ambitious, but we also don’t want to lose sight of our short-term goals in doing so. It’s important that we put together a well-organised team that packs a punch in summer and do a good job.

WERDER.DE: Ole, we hope you have a relaxing break and look forward to seeing you and the boys in action again next season!

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