Frankfurt coach Oliver Glasner on the UEFA Europa League final against Rangers, his team's passionate fans and making Austria proud – interview
Wednesday, 18 May 2022
"Our main strength is our unity; we have a great team spirit," says Eintracht Frankfurt's Austrian coach Oliver Glasner as he prepares his side to face Rangers. "Winning would be an extraordinary achievement."
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A summer arrival from Wolfsburg, Oliver Glasner had a turbulent start to life at Eintracht Frankfurt, with significant changes on the pitch and behind the scenes, but the Austrian managed to galvanise his side for UEFA Europa League nights as they made it to the final.
Now primed to take on Rangers at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán Stadium in Seville, the 47-year-old former SV Ried defender has a chance to bring the club's famously passionate supporters their first European silverware since they won the UEFA Cup in 1979/80, and achieve something that only one Austrian has managed previously.
On final opponents Rangers
Every team that gets to the final has earned it because it's a long road: you have to win a lot of matches. In Borussia Dortmund and Leipzig, Rangers eliminated two top teams from the Bundesliga over two legs. That shows they're very good and also shows they're well equipped for German football, so I'm expecting a very even, hard-fought contest. Both teams are very physical; British football is very physical.
We can't influence what Rangers do but we can influence what we do, how we play, what we set out to do and how we implement that. I want to win on the basis of our strengths and not the weaknesses of the opponents. That's how we’re preparing. Of course, we have great respect for Rangers, and it will be important to know how they play, how they attack, but most important of all is what we intend to do.
On a topsy-turvy first season in Frankfurt
There were a lot of changes [last] summer. Some important players left, and new ones arrived; it took a few weeks until we could develop together how we wanted to play. We noticed by the end of last autumn that a lot of things went in the right direction and that we were competitive against all the top teams. We won in Munich against Bayern and also in the Europa League against Olympiacos, when we realised that with such a performance, we could achieve something big.
That gave us a lot of self-confidence coming into the knockout round. And, of course, we qualified against Betis in the 121st minute, then we had the two extraordinary games against Barcelona and we were still unbeaten [since the start of the group stage]. We have an opportunity to win a European trophy, the Europa League. We didn't believe it at first but now we firmly believe it's possible.
On Eintracht's key strengths
Our main strength is our unity. We have a great team spirit in the squad. In the knockout stage, we always had suspended or injured players and the ones who replaced them gave it all and performed so well. We can play physical football at high intensity. We are very organised and made it really difficult for West Ham, Barcelona and Betis to score against us. We're a team who can quickly play forward, at a high pace, and the players are ready to play to their limits. We will need to repeat that against Rangers.
On what winning the final would mean
For me as a coach, it's the highlight of my career. I've been told I would become the second Austrian coach to win a European trophy [after] Ernst Happel [who won the European Cup with Feyenoord in 1970 and Hamburg in 1983]. He is the biggest Austrian legend as a coach; it would be an extraordinary achievement for me. But for Eintracht, for the fans, for the club, for the players [to bring the trophy home 42 years on from the club's 1980 UEFA Cup final success] would be the most important thing ever.
When you talk about Europe here, a smile immediately appears and it's just a lot of fun and joy. They obviously convey that to us in the stadium with the atmosphere and the support. It has extraordinary significance, great significance, and that's why we're going to try our best so that we come home with the trophy and spend one or two nights celebrating with our fans.