In the second and last part of an exclusive interview with Bulinews.com, Jonas Wind talks about Wolfsburg's poor start to the season, his first impression of Niko Kovac, his favorite club and much, much more.
However, the new season hasn't started according to plan for the Danish striker, who picked up a hamstring injury after coming on from the bench in Wolfsburg's 2-2 opening draw with Werder Bremen last month.
Speaking exclusively to Bulinews.com, Wind initially provided an update on his injury, which expected to keep him sidelined until October.
In this second and last part of the interview, Wind discusses, among other things, Wolfsburg's disappointing start to the 2022/23 season and his first impression of new 'Die Wölfe' coach Niko Kovac:
With just two points after five games, I think it’s safe to say that Wolfsburg’s start to the season has been far from optimal. What are your thoughts on the season so far, and what do you think can explain the club’s poor run of form?
”It’s definitely been a bad start to the season, and we’ve been performing way below our expectations. I’ve missed most of our games because of my injury, and it can be difficult to look at it from the outside, when you’re not playing. But on the other hand, it can also be easy to point out all the things that don’t seem to work. Looking at it from the outside, we’ve conceded too many goals, and at the same time we haven’t been good enough in front of goal. I think we should have won our home games in particular, especially those against the two newly-promoted teams, Werder and Schalke. Of course we also have a new coach (Niko Kovac, editor’s note) and some new ideas that need to be implemented, and I’m sure we’ll get better with time, the more training sessions and matches we have. It’s been disappointing so far, but I’m confident we’ll starting picking up wins soon.”
Has your disappointing start to the season had an impact on the morale and the atmosphere at the club?
“In a way, yes. Of course it influences your mood when you’re not getting the results you want, just as we would have been walking on air if we had won all our games until now. But as a squad, I feel we’re trying to support each other and stay as positive as we can. When things don’t go well, you pull closer together. That’s what we’re doing at least, and I’m sure that will show on the pitch soon. The atmosphere could be better, men we all agree that we should be playing much better football and that we have the qualities to accomplish much more. We just need to show that on the pitch soon.”
What’s your first impression of Niko Kovac? What’s he like as a person and tactically compared to Florian Kohfeldt, who was the coach when you joined the club?
“I have a positive first impression of him. He has new ideas and things that are done in a different way – for example in terms of formation and structure – and we players need a bit of time to get used to all the new stuff. And then when things didn’t go according to plan in the first few games, the formation was changed. In any case, I have a good impression of Kovac and his staff. I believe they’re saying a lot of sensible things. It’s also up to us players to transfer his ideas to the pitch, and we haven’t been good enough at that yet.”
Before picking up your injury, you started on the bench for the first Bundesliga game of the season. How did you experience that, and do you have a clear idea of the role Kovac wants you to play this season?
“It came as a surprise to me that I didn’t start the first game. But that’s just how it can be with a new coach, who needs a bit of time to get to know his new squad. I’ve had some very good conversations with Kovac. He’s aware of my qualities as a player. I’m not shaking in my pants, just because I didn’t start the first game. I believe in my own qualities, and I’ll do everything I can to get back in the starting line-up once I’m back from my injury. I’m both capable of playing up front and as a secondary striker, as I mostly did last season. Looking at the way we play, I think it could work out well with me playing behind Lukas Nmecha, who is a very good striker. We’ll see if I’ll play on either of the wings or in a more central role. I’m happy as long as I get to play.”
Who do you see as your main rivals for a starting spot?
“I’m not really giving that any thoughts. For the most part, I’m just focusing on myself and doing well in training. If I do well enough on the training pitch, then I’m sure I’ll get playing time. I just try to do as well as a I can, and then it’s up to the coach to pick the team.”
It seemed like you were very quick to adapt to the Bundesliga following your move from FC Copenhagen in January. How did your experience that yourself?
“Yeah, I think I settled in quickly. It was a new league with a much higher tempo, so I was happy that it all went so smoothly for me, especially because I had stories about other players, who needed a while to get used to their new surroundings. I was given a lot of trust by the coach from the start and thrown straight into the line-up and that helped me and gave me a lot of confidence. I feel like I’ve improved with every training session and every game, and at the moment I’m just looking forward to returning.”
In which ways do you feel you’ve become a better player since your move from Denmark, and how can you still improve?
“Because there’s a much higher tempo in the Bundesliga compared to the Superliga, I’ve had to lift the intensity of my own game to match that of my teammates and opponents. So I think I’ve improved in terms of tempo, both with and without the ball. You become a better player when you’re playing with good teammates and against good opponents and by getting pushed to the limit in training and in games. I feel I’ve developed well generally, but there are always a bit of room for improvement. For example, I’d like to score even more goals and get into the area even more, even though I also like to set up my teammates. I think I took a step forward in that regard last season, and hopefully I can keep moving in the right direction.”
What are your goals for the rest of the season? Both individually and for the club.
“I’m not the type to set targets for myself in terms of scoring goals and setting up assists. I’m just trying to take things day by day and to keep improving and help the team as much as I can. We haven’t talked about our goals as a team, but we’re a big club even though we’re in the wrong end of the table at the moment. Ideally, we should be competing for the European places and a top-six finish. But at the moment, we just need to focus on getting wins, so we can get out of the relegation zone.”
Did you attract interest from any clubs during the summer? And is there a specific club and/or league you’d like to go to at some point?
“There was nothing concrete that I had to deal with. I’ve only been here for a bit more than a half year, and I’ve been happy with my time at the club so far, so I’m not thinking about a move away at all. But If we look into the future, Arsenal would be a dream destination for me, as it has always been my favorite club. In general, I think the Premier League is the best league in the world, and it would be exciting to play there. But as I said, that’s not what I’m focusing on at the moment. I’m doing well here in Wolfsburg, it’s a good club for me, and the Bundesliga is a great league to play in. At the moment, I’m just focusing on my performances here, and then we’ll see if I’m good enough to take the next step sometime in the future.”
Which of your teammates have impressed your the most since your move to Wolfsburg?
“Right after my arrival, I was very impressed by Aster Vranckx, who was recently sent out on loan to Milan. I didn’t know him beforehand, but he was one of the best-performing players in my first training sessions. He’s a great player with a lot of physicality despite being just 19 years old. I’ve also been particularly impressed with Koen Casteels, who is one of the best goalkeepers in the league, and Lukas Nmecha, my partner up front, who’s also a very good player.”
Are there some teammates you have a particularly good relationship with?
“There are lot of good guys, and I feel lucky that there are so many players in my own age. I can speak Danish/Swedish with Matias Svanberg, our new Swedish player, and I also talk a lot with the Nmecha brothers, Bornauw, van de Ven and Paredes. It’s a good group of players, and we’re having fun together.”
Do you hang out with any of the other Danish players on regular basis?
“No, I don’t, but I talked to my former teammate Jens Stage, who is now playing for Werder, after our game in Bremen, and we’ll definitely find some time to see each other.”
How do you rate Denmark’s World Cup group stage opponents (France, Tunisia and Australia), and what would it mean to you to get called up for the tournament?
“I think our draw is fine. France are one of the best national teams in the world, of course, but we’ve shown in the past that we can beat them. Tunisia and Australia are both teams we should be able to win against, so I think we should have a good chance of proceeding from the group stages, and then we’ll see what happens from there. I’m confident that I will recover from my injury in time for the World Cup, and it would be a dream come true for me to get called up.”