Markus, squad planning is over and we have a busy schedule ahead of us with seven games in the next 21 days. Last weekend was probably your first quiet one in a long time …
Correct. After a very intense period I had a few days to regenerate, which I spent relaxing with my family. Now I'm looking forward to the upcoming tasks. The start to the season was successful, we have a good and exciting team with some great games ahead of us.
Transfer windows are very intense times for a sporting director. Are you the kind of person who can easily switch off or do you go to sleep with things on your mind?
I'm always occupied with something. My job is to manage situations and find the best solution, and that's what I spend a lot of time thinking about. In this job it is completely normal to take such tasks home with you because there is a lot riding on them. We have ambitious goals and have very important and far-reaching decisions to make. Therefore it is good to consider them intensely.
How do you switch off during such an intense period?
In every day life, I can do it perfectly just being at home - I don't need any special hobby or anything like that. Spending time with my wife, our two children and our dog is the perfect opportunity for me to switch off, and we talk about a lot of things aside from football.
Do you ever reward yourself after a transfer is completed?
(laughs) No, because that's my job and it is therefore one of my responsibilities. At the end of a transfer window, I'll definitely dine out and enjoy a glass of wine - just like last weekend, but that's about it.
In Josep Martínez, Benjamin Henrichs, Hee-chan Hwang, Lazar Samardžić, Alexander Sørloth and most recently Justin Kluivert, six new players have joined the club, with Angeliño also coming on loan once again. What do you make of the window?
We've been able to bring in young palyers with potential. I think we have a really good squad. We have two players for every position and a lot of versatility in multiple areas, in addition to a good age structure. Hee-chan Hwang, Josep Martínez, Benjamin Henrichs, Alex Sørloth and Justin Kluivert are all young players who have already picked up experience, on the international stage too. The players have also had to go through negative experiences in their career, which is important for their development. It is also important for us as a team to be able to deal with setbacks and come back from them. There is one thing I would emphasise...
We have a really good coaching team with a great head coach. Every player has developed brilliantly under Julian and everyone has taken a step forward.
How does Julian Nagelsmann react when a transfer is finally completed?
Julian is always kept up to date with every step of the process, so he knows what the situation is at all times and how things are going. The exchanges are always very relaxed with a bit of banter here and there.
What did he say to you after the tough Sørloth transfer was done?
(laughs) Julian just said: "You've got lucky again!"
Was that your hardest trasnfer to date?
Definitely, espeically as the transfer looked to be in danger at points. The hardest part was definitely trying to convince Trabzonspor to let go of their best player. There were a lot of emotional discussions. I don't think I'll be involved in many similar transfers in the future, where three clubs are involved. It's never easy with two clubs, so it was even more difficult with three. I think I might still talk about that in 30 years' time. Of course I was very pleased when everything was signed and things had gone as we had imagined.
You've said that it's always important to get to know the person behind the player. How do you do that?
The conversation with each other is always decisive. You find out who the player really is. His private and family life, his interests, and his views on certain topics. You learn about a player in a footballing sense and you see a lot of images and statistics, but it is also always important to see how a player fits into our group and how he can help with his personality. That increases his chances of success.
Something that is working well is the cooperation between our new leadership between yourself, Christopher Vivell, and Florian Scholz. What is this teamwork like?
We all settled in well together and the exchanges are always intense – especially when it comes to transfers. Each of us have different areas of responsibility, such as finances, footballing outlook or administrative topics. Things can change very quickly during a transfer window and we have to react to new situations and find the best solutions, which we do really well as a team. Thanks to the new set-up, I can delegate a lot of tasks that would usually have been my responsibility. That saves me time and lets me focus on other things. In this way, we can work in parallel and complete things much quicker.
You always seem really calm and composed; Julian Nagelsmann is more emotional. When would you ever really go crazy?
I'm a very rational person and I'm not really extreme. When we're doing really well, I'm not overly exhuberant and if things are going bad I'm never totally down. I prefer to look at things neutrally rather than emotionally, which helps. I can also be emotional and loud, but a lot has to happen for that. I always try to go about things with calmness, neutrality and objectivity. That's where me and Julian differ, but that's not a bad thing. For me to lose my calm, something very extreme has to happen, or something unjust go against us.
What expectations and goals do you have ahead of the new season?
We want to get Champions League football again and do no worse than last season – so in the best case, a minimum of third place. In the Champions League we want to get through the group stage because we've all experienced how amazing the knockout rounds are. In the DFB-Pokal we want to get one or two rounds further than last season. RB Leipzig has already been in a cup final and I'd like to as well.
To finish off, a more personal question. As a player, you were a defensive midfielder. Is there a player who reminds you of yourself?
(laughs) No! The game that I played as a player is not the same football that we have today. What the guys play today is a completely different game, so I can't really see any kind of Krösche copy.