Ebbsfleet United’s Dennis Kutrieb is the latest manager to feature in The Bosses’ Lounge. If you missed the first half of his interview, you can find it here.
In this concluding part, Dennis tries his hand at the regular Q&A section. So, what more could we learn about the man from Berlin?
When did you want to start coaching/managing?
It was more by accident, because I stopped playing football and I got an offer saying ‘we need an experienced player who wants to become a manager’. I said that I didn’t have any plans so I would give it a try, just to see if I liked it or not. I was happy to do it because I was experienced enough to be a leader of a team, because I was as a player anyway, so there was not a big difference for me in the beginning. I quickly felt that I enjoyed it. As a player, I said that I didn’t want to be a manager, because as a player, I said that you don’t have time for holidays, to see the world or whatever else. Then I gave it a try, it was successful, and I felt like ‘wow, that’s really interesting’. If you get the whole squad on the same page, then you can achieve big, big things. It became more and more interesting, and I was more and more excited, I started to improve, and it has been a good journey so far.
Which training sessions do you enjoy leading the most?
To be honest, I enjoy the game days most, because then you can see if you’ve worked well in the week before, if the boys understood or not. That’s the thing I would say I love most, but I even like when they run, to be honest, because then I know that they are getting fit. When they work with our head of performance, I love it, because I know that they have really worked hard, they are getting fitter and fitter, and they can deliver on the pitch. Working on tactical things as well, the small, fine things, for all the boys together, so they know exactly what we want to do off the ball, with the ball. So there are quite a few things that I love!
Will you ever take part in training, in terms of actually being in the session as an active part, like an extra player?
Sometimes I step in, especially for the rondos; I’m always involved because I love it. I can’t run now, to be honest, not for long or very quick anyway, so I’m better when I stay and play. Sometimes when we play head tennis, I step in as well, so the small challenge games where you don’t need to run so much. As long as I can, I will do it, because that’s enjoyable to me, but normally, all the other things I try to avoid.
Favourite ground that you’ve visited or would like to visit
Since being here in England, I think about being with Ebbsfleet one day at Wembley, so that’s what I would say.
Favourite player to watch (past or present)
There were a few players that I liked, but not one player where I would say ‘wow, he’s unbelievable, he’s the best player in the world’, so I’m not the typical Messi/Ronaldo type. I’m more like ‘it’s a good team, they are good players’. Even today, I would say there are at least 5-10 boys where I think they are really good, but there is not one where I would say ‘I loved him, he was a big player for me’.
Pre-season tour anywhere in the world
I went almost every time during the winter breaks with my teams in Germany to Turkey. It’s very nice there, because they have very good pitches, the weather’s fine, you can eat well, nice hotels, so that’s what I’m used to. Perhaps I would say Turkey, because my experiences there were always good.
Most challenging/frustrating part of your job
There are two things. One thing is the referees, because you’re not on the pitch, so you can’t have a small chat with them. That’s been very difficult for me since I became a manager, and it’s much more complicated over here. The other thing of course is at the end of the season, when you need to tell some boys that you have to release them. That’s the most hurtful thing for me in football, because I try to look after every player, I try to give them all I have. I’m always honest with them; if they play good, if they play bad, they always get my opinion in a positive way. When you have to say ‘we can’t extend your contract’, that’s the most, most hurtful thing in football for me.
Funniest player/coach you’ve worked with, or just one of the funniest
There were a few funny guys. My first-team coach at Tennis Borussia, his name was Sascha (Schrödter), he was really funny. Not only funny, he was very close to me, and we could talk about everything. We had some good laughs about everything.
Your routine on a match day
To be honest, I don’t think that there has to be a certain way. I’m really looking forward to it every game day, I can’t wait. Before they go out to the warm-up, and during the warm-up, after the warm-up, I just want for it to get started. When we have the team talk, we have our team talk most times 75 minutes before kick-off, so that’s perhaps one thing that is very routine. After that, I can’t do anything more than wait until we start, so that’s a boring time for me! I want to see if the boys deliver, if they are prepared, and good enough to win a game.
One singer/band or song you would sneak on to the team playlist
After the game, I would say ‘Sweet Caroline’ (Neil Diamond), so then I can be sure that we won the game!
Advice you remember getting that’s stuck with you
The only thing is I try to always be honest with my players, so that’s advice of my own. I had so many experiences and I saw so many boys who were so sad because the manager said things to them and they tried to do it, and they feel they were thrown under the bus. So when I started to become a manager, I said that I always wanted to be honest to the players, because there’s no reason not to be. Of course it hurts sometimes, but it’s better that way than giving them something false.
If you could have some time with any manager, past or present
At the moment, I would be very interested to talk to Pep Guardiola and (Thomas) Tuchel, because they are in England as well and have been very successful. One is a German manager, one worked in Germany, so these two are very interesting for me.
Any misconceptions about you as a player/manager/personality, myths you’d like to dispel, or something you wish people could understand a bit more?
Yeah, it’s what I said earlier, about the communication when I first arrived here. I never had this experience before; when I tried to explain, I could explain in German, with the right tone and everything that I wanted to say. Here, that was very complicated in the beginning, so I wish that I could tell the boys exactly what I feel, in the way that I want to say it. After the season stopped, I saw in every face that they were so sad, and they were so unlucky that the season was cancelled and everything else. I said to them, ‘Boys, I wish I could talk in German to you now, to explain everything that I want to explain,’ but I just said that we need to look forward, it’s a few months and then we can get started again. That’s the only thing where I would say sometimes I wish they could understand me better.
And finally, what’s the best thing about having this life around football? When you wake up and football’s your focus for the day, do you still get that same buzz as you always did?
Yeah, exactly, all day long. Every day, when I wake up, I say I have the best job in the world. There couldn’t be anything better, because that’s what I love, that’s what I’ve done since I was five years old. I do it every day and I love to do it every day, because there’s nothing better than football. Nobody can tell me that there is something better than being a footballer, being a manager, or to be involved in football, because there are so many people out there who would love to.
Interview by @chris_brookes