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Rafa on pre-season and our new right back


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How does it feel to be back in Switzerland?


I'm really pleased. It's a nice place, if a little bit warm now. The people are good, the facilities are fantastic and the journalists are really good! So, everything is okay.


You have a few new members within your backroom staff plus Glen Johnson - how's everyone settling in?


It's easy to settle down here. The atmosphere is good - the players are feeling really good with their teammates and with the staff. Everything is going really well.


Is Glen likely to make his debut against St Gallen?


We will try to use all the players. Our idea is to use one team in the first half and change it at half-time.


What are you expecting from the game?


We have the video of the game they won against Basel and they were well organised - the manager knows what to do. The main thing for us is to get the match fitness - the result isn't too important even though we want to win every single game - but it will be interesting. The important thing is to see how the team is on the pitch and see the understanding between the players.


How are some of the younger players - the likes of Krisztian Nemeth - settling into the first-team environment?


They are working hard. They're a little bit tired because the tempo of the first team is always higher. We will see against St Gallen because, if we don't have any problems, all of them will be there.


With Sami Hyypia's departure, is there a potential opening for someone like Daniel Ayala, Mikel San Jose or Martin Kelly?


We decided to bring the young players because we wanted to see them with the first-team players and also playing some games. Okay, they have to fight. We will 100 per cent consider them for the season. We have to decide about one or two things to finalise in pre-season, but in terms of these players, we think they have a great future at the club. We are monitoring them to see if they can give us something in the season, and they're improving and working really hard.


What about Philipp Degen - could he feature in his home country?


I think he's the happiest man in the squad now - he can understand everyone! He's training very, very well and if he's fit he'll be a very good addition for us. :lol:


What will Johnson's arrival mean for Degen?


Competition. The players have to compete for their positions. He's doing well, training hard and if he has no injuries maybe we will see the best of Philipp.


You are closing the gap on the champions. It was 11 points, then four. What do you have to do to close the gap finally?


You have to do everything almost perfectly because in the Premier League you cannot lose many games. You need a good atmosphere, and we have a good squad now. The understanding is really good now between the players. The main thing for me is to be contenders. We have to be there in the top four and close, then see what happens. Chelsea, United and Arsenal are very strong, and this year you'll have Tottenham, Aston Villa and City. It's clearly the most difficult league. We are strong enough to beat anyone and we need to be consistent. We got 86 points - a record for the club in the Premier League - but we still need to improve. But we have a lot of confidence.


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