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Stöger, ‘Our faith must be bigger than our hope’

Peter Stöger talks about his experiences in the first six months as executive sports director and defines goals, as well as short and long-term strategies for transfers and the training and further development of players. His most important finding about Austria Wien’s Academy is "that there are three to four exceptional players in each year.”

Why will 2020 be better for Austria Wien than 2019?

Peter Stöger, ‘I think we can be more confident because we got to know each other very well in the past six months. We also saw more positive signals in the final phase of the championship than at the beginning. I have the feeling that something is developing in small steps.

With Andreas Poulsen, Austria Wien has so far brought in one new player, on loan from the German Bundesliga club Borussia Mönchengladbach for six months. What do you expect from this transfer and are similar loan transactions a strategic consideration for the future?

It is exciting to get a foot in the German Bundesliga. Building on my many years of experience in Germany and the background of sports coordinator Alex Bade, we have built up many contacts over the past six months and have spoken to numerous clubs. The response was very positive: the Austrian Bundesliga and Austria Wien in particular are perceived as a very good partner. We then decided with Andreas Poulsen what we thought was the most exciting solution. Basically, I see development opportunities in cooperations with clubs like Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Under what circumstances could there be further transfers this winter?

Only if other players leave us. With Andreas Poulsen we have brought in an additional player and we rate our squad size as sufficient - everyone who knows me also knows that I don’t like actionism. At the same time, our financial situation has not changed over Christmas. We continue to work on improving our financial opportunities and winning strategic partners.

Both teams are flying to the training camp together (January 24th-31st). What are the advantages for Austria Wien?

First of all, I would like to thank those who made the training camp possible for us: on the one hand, people who support us economically and, on the other hand, the organizers with whom Austria Wien has been working for years and who have done everything so we can to fly to Turkey. Having the training camp with both professional teams at the same time and staying in the same hotel is the ideal situation. This way, we can further promote synergies and the exchange between the first and second team. In the fall there were some young players who first gathered practice with the “Young Violets” and then did a great job in the Bundesliga. The fact that the merger of the two professional teams is working perfectly is one of the most positive aspects of the past six months - this is our way.

How do you assess the initial situation before the spring season and what athletic development do you expect in the spring?

The initial situation is challenging for both teams. We do not have to discuss the situation of the first team: it is clear that we need help if we want to get into the top six. But we can only concentrate on what we can influence ourselves. Therefore, it is our job to complete the four remaining games of the basic round as best as possible and then we will see how the competitors scored. The goal is to develop the team and our game further - approaches were already recognizable at the end of the fall season.

How do you assess the initial situation of the Young Violets?

The Young Violets did better after a difficult start - they played well from the start anyway. The Young Violets are primarily about the development of the individual players, at the same time we have to mobilize all our strength to stay in the 2nd Bundesliga. It will certainly be exciting and challenging because some young players have moved closer to the A-team during autumn - which is why other, very young players will have to exploit their potential.

You have been Austria Wien's sports director for almost exactly half a year. What are the key findings of the first six months?

I have experienced very motivated employees in a difficult phase and have a positive feeling that we will see a positive development in the next season. In the course of a collaboration you notice where you can create synergies in the club and where you can unload useless baggage. We will reorganize, work on additional economic contacts and look for a strategic partner. In these areas, I am very confident that we will make great strides.

What are your impressions of Austria Wien’s Academy?

A lot of times I get asked: How consistent is this training system? Is there enough quality for the A team at all? The most important finding of the past six months is that there are three to four exceptional players in each year. I am reassured that there is definitely enough quality to regularly develop players for the Young Violets and the A team. It is largely our job to encourage these exceptional players, introduce them to the first team, and prepare them for what lies ahead.

How does Austria Wien have to get better in order to be regularly in the top three of the Bundesliga and succeed in UEFA-competitions again in a few years?

First, it is important to make the best possible use of the qualities and resources that we have. I think we made a good first step in the fall: some young players who did not score points with the Young Violets at the beginning of the season were able to give us more for the A team at the end of the fall season.

Second, we have to work on our profitability. Austria Wien has made large and necessary infrastructure investments in recent years. Now we have to find strategic partners to accompany us on our way.

Third, we have to make the right strategic decisions athletically. To do this, we started to expand our network to have better opportunities to improve our squad and maybe get a hold of some players earlier than other clubs. We want to gradually build up trust, so players are reassured that something is developing in the right direction at Austria Wien, that's where I want to go.

It is also clear that Austria Wien has not built a stadium to discuss whether we will be sixth or seventh in the standings. Nor did I take on the job of the sports board to finish fourth or fifth. It is also clear that the past two to three years have not met Austria Wien’s standards. It will take a lot of work and, above all, time, but we will come out of it stronger. It is important that the real faith in being in the top three is greater than the hope that we can somehow make it. Before the start of the season, I expect the following situation for Austria Wien: If we perform normally, we will be in the top three. Maybe this will be the case next season - in the future it will be that way again.

To what extent are plans already in progress for the next transfer times?

It is clear that we are very limited in this transfer period. Football is very short-lived, of course, but we are already keeping an eye on the strategic direction for the summer, because we believe that we will have more opportunities to make changes. We started to prepare a lot of it already.