It’s the start of a new era under a new manager for Bayern Munich, and for some of the more senior members of the squad, like Arjen Robben, it’ll be the fourth different manager they’ve seen in the span of just three seasons. For a player with the pedigree of Robben, though, it’ll still be business as usual under the charismatic Niko Kovač.
Looking ahead to the 2018/2019 season, Robben spoke with FCBayernTV, revealing that he’s full of confidence for Kovač, the squad, and himself for the new campaign. At 34 years of age, he admits, he still feels as sharp and fit as ever:
I still feel that I’m really fit, even at 34. When I train, I’m only training for myself, not for the coach or for whoever. You have to be fit. You can only achieve a lot if you’re fit, so you have to put all your energy into it. If you want to achieve something in life and in football, you have to work very hard and not get comfortable too soon.
The first couple of weeks of preseason, he feels, are incredibly important for achieving max fitness ahead of the new season and the squad is putting the necessary hard work:
It’s important that you build up a bit at the start. You need a good foundation, a good basis. At the moment it’s working very well. We’re working hard but I think that’s exactly what we need in order to be properly fit for the season. That’s why pre-season is so important. You have to work hard.
Kovac, Robben says, places so much emphasis on fitness and it’s setting the right precedent for the club right from the get-go to start off his tenure. Additionally, Robben feels that the attitude amongst the plethora of younger players in the squad has looked positive thus far, which will help squad depth down the stretch of the season with all competitions in mind:
The boss really values fitness training. It’s working very well - it’s exactly what we need. For the young players, it’s above all about ambition and motivation. You can never be satisfied. Our lads are doing really well. I have a good feeling. We can double up in every position and we have a young and highly motivated manager. If everyone stays fit, we will be difficult to beat.
Anything less than two trophies this season, Robben revealed, would be considered a disappointment. After falling just short of a domestic double last season, the mission is clear; win one more trophy than they did last year:
The expectation is clear, not just for me but all of us: we want to achieve the maximum, we want to win trophies. We want to win at least one more trophy than last season.
Winning trophies requires 24/7 focus and unwavering commitment, and that’s something Robben is certainly used to. The daily grind of preseason training is rigorous, but absolutely necessary for everyone in the squad:
The pattern of the day is just eat, train, eat, sleep, train, sleep, train, eat, drink. Nothing else.