"Its important for everyone to feel the new energy"
Skrapid.at: Well, firstly let us wish you a happy new year and great success in your new role. We've heard that you're already accustomed to your new surroundings. Is that correct?
Fredy Bickel (FB): "That is indeed the case. So many people here have gone out of their way in order to help me settle in. I've already moved into my new apartment and feel at home there. Getting from A to B in daily life remains a bit of a challenge and I'm often needing to use the navigation system. In big cities such as Vienna getting around shouldn't be underestimated. ButI've got plenty of people around me all willing to help me get to where I need to be."
Since 01.01.2017 you've been the official Sporting Director of SK Rapid Vienna. Whats your first impression of the club and what changes are being planned?
FB: "The first impression has been positive. There are wonderful possibilities here, but at the same time there are many things currently going on that are done in the correct way. We are well equipped here and I am of the opinion that together with the coaching staff and the players we'll successfully implement some positive changes. We want to work on the daily routine, the configuration of the training center, on nutrition, the organization and conducting of match days: these points together maybe form a facet of the overall picture, but are incredibly important for myself and for Damir Canadi."
We'd like to explore the topic of change a little further. How do you view the current make up of the first team squad and what changes might we expect?
FB: "Regarding the current state of the playing squad, we have a trainer team in place to deal with that and I have supreme confidence that come the restart we'll be more than ready. The starting point is dealing with the players we currently have here and making sure they understand their roles at the club. We need to reduce numbers slightly. As a Sporting Director its obviously nice to make statement signings that make everyone around the club happy. But that’s not what needs to be happening at the moment, we need to explore and filter the current squad. Ideally come the first of February we'd have a squad of 23-25 senior players. Hence we have a lot of work ahead of us in resolving 6 or 7 squad places. Rather than just turning a player's world upside down, we need to treat everyone firstly as human. Its for this reason that its incredibly important for me to make joint decisions that are right for all parties, regardless of how much extra time this might require."
You have time to get familiar with the squad and of course know how we fared in Autumn. What needs to be done for the remainder of the season? Where lies the focus?
FB: “The most important thing is for everyone to sense that their is a new energy here. That everyone is aware that something is happening. There was tremendous hope heading into this season and the team made a good start. But then the side sunk into a hole and couldn't get out, with it coming to the point that things got so bad that players were unable to deliver to the levels they are capable of. It was a spiral that went deeper and deeper and sucked everyone along with it. However I'm convinced it wasn't a case of lack of will."
On your CV you have six championship titles in Switzerland, three with Grasshoppers and three with FC Zürich. You have experience of success and bring this with you to Vienna. Is there any differences between Switzerland and Austria?
FB: "In Austria the clubs are better equipped in terms of marketing, organization and administration. Hence there is lots of investment in the commercial operations. In this regard all the Bundesliga sides easily match their Swiss neighbors. However investment in the sporting or on-field side of the club is lagging behind. Not only in terms of players but in the overall environment and everything connected with the pitch. But I think its incredibly important that first and foremost a club ensures that it is in a healthy financial state and is capable of operating and standing on its own two feet. By the same token one most remember not to neglect the sporting side of the club. Its about now finding a balance. To compare the two leagues: In Switzerland only two clubs made an operating minus; in Austria only one."