“Finishing ninth or tenth can be a success”

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“Finishing ninth or tenth can be a success”

August 26, 2017

Philipp Weber will be a star for years to come, at least according to the many experts in German handball.  He won the goal scoring title in 2017 while playing for the HSG Wetzlar, but has moved backed to his beloved club SC DHfK Leipzig since then.  He just wanted to be back home and feel well, as he claims.  It surely was a controversial transfer.  Today, Weber is looking forward to leave his mark in Leipzig, and the German national team.

Before we take a look at what lies ahead, we have to talk about last year.  You decided that your time in Wetzlar should come to an end after just one season, because you wanted to move back to Leipzig.  How did it influence you mentally because on the court it did not show?

PW: It was a lot of stress for me, because I wasn’t happy doing what I did.  The decision I took didn’t have to do anything with what happened on the pitch – II just didn’t feel happy.  That’s why I thought it was better for both sides to part ways and for me to go back to Leipzig.  Once it was made public, I was happy and relieved and it pushed me further; my performances got even better.

What did coach Kai Wandschneider teach you during this one year that will make you a better player in the future?

PW: He was able to stabilize my game – I didn’t have a lot of ups and downs.  I played on a very high level during the whole season.  That’s why he has been very important for my development.  He always backed me and as an athlete you feel it if the coach trusts you.  He also left me with a lot of freedom, so I was able to use my creativity on the court.  I’m very grateful for what he did to my game.

Are you looking forward to the new season with even more enthusiasm, now that you are back home?

PW: Yes, that’s a good way to describe it.  I’m just very excited to be back as it’s not a given that you get another chance and are welcomed again with open arms, after you left the club once.  The vibe around this club is just amazing and that’s why I’m very happy to be here.  I can’t wait for the new season to start.

Your team is also quite good…

PW: Absolutely.  We got some very good, new players.  For example, the very talented left-wing Yves Kunkel comes to mind.  The core of the team stayed together and you could see already what they accomplished last year.  We want to continue in this direction and possibly improve.

What can you do to make sure expectations in Leipzig won’t be rocketing towards the sky after such a fantastic season?

PW: That’s tough to say. We certainly won’t lose on purpose so fans will lower their expectations.  Of course you can feel that there is a lot of euphoria around.  Especially, after the club made it to the FINAL 4 of the German cup.  Fans want to experience such moments again and we – the players – want it as well.  But as we are still developing there will be setbacks.  We have to be prepared for it, but obviously we will do our best to develop even further.

What will be the biggest obstacle for you?

PW: I don’t think about obstacles.  If we begin with this in mind, we may not even have to start.  I just think about the positive aspects and that’s what we should focus on.

The coaching situation is a bit bizarre, as André Haber will be in charge until Michael Biegler takes over in January 2018.  Are these awkward circumstances a distraction to you and did you already talk to Biegler?

PW: I don’t think it’s difficult, as the team knows André very well.  We already work with him for many years and we all know what’s going on.  Everybody knew it from the beginning, so there’s no problem at all.  André is a very good coach and we as a team will do everything to support him.  He is doing an impressive job and nobody will show less effort because there will be a new coach joining us later on.  We already talked to Michael Biegler as we want to make the transition as smooth as possible once he takes over in January.

Do you need to finish in eighth position again, to call it a successful season?

PW: I don’t think so.  I think it will be much more difficult to finish that high again.  Teams like Magdeburg, Göppingen, Melsungen or Hannover either didn’t have such a good start in 2017 or struggled later on.  Last year, it was easier to record some victories that you normally don’t get.  Even if you finish ninth or tenth, it can be a successful campaign.  All clubs will be getting closer and teams like Göppingen, Melsungen or Hannover signed some excellent players.  It will be tough to finish eighth again – it will be challenging, but we will try.

You mentioned the month of January when Michael Biegler will take over, but I guess you will prefer to spend your time in Croatia, come 2018?

PW: Oh yeah, sure.  I wouldn’t mind being there, but it’s a long way to go and a lot of things can happen until then.  That’s why I’m not thinking about it.  But if I have the choice, I’ll favor Croatia over Leipzig.

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