ASV Grünwettersbach is currently battling on several fronts. In the TTBL interview, Managing Director Martin Werner talks about the Liebherr Cup Final Four 2024 experience event as well as the former cup winners' losing streak in the race to stay in the league, the comeback of veteran Wang Xi and progress in their efforts to lay the foundations for another TTBL season in Karlsruhe.
Martin Werner, ASV Grünwettersbach is going through exciting and demanding times. A remarkable performance in the Liebherr Cup Final Four is embedded in a long dry spell in the TTBL. How do you deal with such emotional rollercoaster rides?
There's really no explanation for our dry spell. It all started after our narrow 3:2 draw at Borussia Düsseldorf with a 3:1 home defeat against TSV Bad Königshofen - after that, the plug was somehow pulled. We couldn't get out of it and our heads were hanging low. The cup was a highlight in between that we could focus on and that we wanted to take home for our fans. But overall, the one has nothing to do with the other, because it's simply difficult for us in the league at the moment and we can only hope that we can get out of it again. But that's only possible with points, which we need as quickly as possible. But when you've got your back to the wall, it's all the more difficult in sport, and sometimes that little bit of luck is missing.
But first, let's take a look back at the cup final: what do you remember more vividly? Your team's brilliant game in the semi-final against champions Borussia Düsseldorf or the inspiring atmosphere in the hall created by the 'red wall' of Grünwettersbach fans?
Of course, both our game and our fans will be remembered positively. We knew that many, many fans would travel with us and the support was fantastic. That's also the case in the league games: Even during our dry spell, the fans are behind the team. In the cup, we were able to hold our own against Düsseldorf in the semi-final precisely because of that, and there was even a bit more in it for us. All in all, the cup tournament was a mega-positive event this season.
The mental tailwind from the cup did little to help your team in the league. In the subsequent second leg in Bad Königshofen, Grünwettersbach suffered its sixth consecutive defeat since mid-October. How do you see your team at the moment?
The team in Bad Königshofen was completely different to the one that played in the cup. We had to do without Tiago Apolonia and Wang Xi played his first games after a four-month injury break. It was of course difficult to pick up points and, as I said, it's even harder to win games like this when your back is against the wall. But we hope that things will improve as quickly as possible.
The fall was hardly calculated. What hopes or expectations remained unfulfilled?
Of course, none of us expected so many defeats in a row after the season had actually started so well for us. The fact that something like this can happen very quickly, because the league is very, very tight, is something you always have to plan for. I've always warned against that. It takes a lot to be playing at the top behind the two or three top teams, but if you suffer two or three defeats in a row, you can be at the bottom of the table in no time at all. That's what's happening to us at the moment - but no one expected that.
Grünwettersbach's negative streak has put them within striking distance of the danger zone. Can Grünwettersbach fight relegation?
Whether we can fight relegation remains to be seen. It's not the first time for us, but we also had a pretty bad season two years ago due to major injury problems and were also in the bottom of the table then. This time it remains to be seen how the boys deal with the situation, but first we have to score again very quickly so that we can perhaps take a deep breath, because there are no more easy games for us.
What hopes do you have for Wang Xi's return from injury for the rest of the season?
Wang Xi himself naturally wants to help the team get out of the bottom again. However, he is still lacking match practice. You could see from the game in Bad Königshofen that he is still a long way off his form. However, he can only get into form through match practice, but we don't really have the time. The next game will show what level he's at and how he can perform. But of course I hope that he can give the team a positive boost and that we can rely on him again.
Even before the cup tournament, you had questioned the future of Grünwettersbach as a TTBL venue in the media. How has the situation developed since then?
It's not easy to keep this structure running with the performance center, TTBL and our 13 junior teams. But because we want to keep it going, we will continue to fight. I am also optimistic that we will be able to continue somehow.
How are you planning the coming season?
We are planning towards the TTBL. Ricardo Walther, Tiago Apolonia and Wang Xi still have contracts for the coming season, so we already have a TTBL team. I'm not really planning in any other direction at the moment because I'm assuming that we'll be able to stay in the league and play in the TTBL next season.
Thank you very much for the interview, Martin Werner.
Interview: Florian Manzke
Featured image above: Fan block of ASV Grünwettersbach (Photo: Wolfgang Bauer)