Lucien Favre came to Berlin from FC Zurich in July 2007 for 200,000 euros. That investment in one of European football's visionary coaches is beginning to pay off.
Kick Off: Lucien Favre, you came to Berlin after four successful years with FC Zurich. Why did you decide to make the move?
Lucien Favre: It was an offer I just couldn't refuse. It's the capital of Germany, a city with a rich history. But I came first and foremost for the football. I know that it is a huge challenge in Berlin, and I have ambitious plans. I want to build a team that can challenge for the Bundesliga title. But not just for one season, but every season.
Since you’ve been in Berlin you’ve let 17 players go and brought in 13 new faces. You once said that 85 percent of footballing success depends on transfers and having the right players.
Yes, definitely. Transfers are very important. You have to observe players closely for a long time. If you make a mistake you might have them under contract for two, three or four years. That's expensive and gives you a problem, particularly if you are the coach.
What boxes does a player have to tick to make it into your team?
For me the most important thing is footballing intelligence. Players should be able to read a game and anticipate both attacking or defensive situations.
As a coach do you try to imagine how these new players would fit together as a team, or how the hierarchy would be?
If the players you buy are all intelligent footballers then it is no problem, that all happens automatically. They feel football, they are smart, intuitive players. They can read and anticipate the game. With players like that, the process is very quick.
You were a very attacking-minded player. Is it true that you like your teams to play a very offensive style?
Yes absolutely. I have a particular advantage in that when I was a professional, I played almost every position. I played in attack; I played in central defence; I played as a sweeper; I played as a right- and left-sided wing back. So that experience helps me to understand the whole team much better. That really was an advantage for me. Perhaps it was a learning process for becoming a coach. For me it's important that a player is versatile. It's okay if they can only play one position but normally I think they should be able to play two or three positions.
You learnt some of your coaching skills from Arsene Wenger and Rafael Benitez...
Yes I know Arsene Wenger well. I've been to see him two or three times and it was more than just a visit to watch his team training. I like his footballing philosophy. You can always learn something new, even from a coach in the third or fourth division. You have to be open and be prepared to improve. If you believe you can already do everything, you might as well forget it and look for another job.
So a modern coach has to be prepared to learn and improve?
Yes, but not just the coach. Everybody, you included, has to keep improving. You have to do that, and it is wonderful if you can just learn a little bit every single day. Then you can be satisfied in the evening. I think that applies to everybody.
Last weekend in Dortmund you were red-carded for remonstrating with referee Baback Rafati. You’ve been banished to the stands for one game and fined as punishment. Is that hard to stomach? How important is football to you?
Football is my life. The ball is my life. It’s my passion. It's been like that since I was small. My wife will be angry if she hears me but football is the most wonderful game in the world.
Your homeland Switzerland is getting ready to host the 2008 European Championship. What do you think the Swiss team can achieve?
For me there are two important aspects. Firstly, that Switzerland can be a good host to all the fans. Germany is our role model because of the 2006 World Cup which was fantastic. Secondly, I hope we can show that we have a good team.
Are you expecting any surprises -- in terms of tactics, teams or players?
I hope so! There are always surprises at the European Championship or the World Cup. I don't mind who it is, maybe Russia or Greece or Turkey. I just hope that we see some great football with plenty of goals. I rarely make predictions but if I had to, I would say Spain will win it because they haven't won anything for such a long time.
Do they deserve to win it?
No, it's just my gut feeling.
You know Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld very well, and he is going to be Switzerland's next national coach. Was that a good choice?
I believe he will win the Bundesliga this year, at least I hope so, he deserves it. I hope that he will have a lot of success with Switzerland, I think he can do it. I wish him all the best in the job.