WORLD: Mr. Walter, you were dismissed from VfB Stuttgart on December 23, 2019. How are you following football right now?
Tim Walter: I watch games on my laptop, of course I follow everything. But I am also a private citizen: I cook, walk with our dog, do sports with the family, train my son: Here we both learn from each other, children are the best indicators. That’s how I try to treat my players: as if they were my children, my family.
WORLD: Do you watch VfB games?
Walter: I watch the Bundesliga in general, including my former employer. Especially the guys who are close to my heart, with whom I still have contact.
WORLD: How do you see your time in Stuttgart today?
Walter: It was a huge experience for me to work for such a big club. I got to see a player and people like Mario Gomez, an accomplished player like Daniel Didavi. That was a great experience that I will benefit from in the future.
WORLD: They left when VfB was third. It was said that your football was too risky, especially not suitable for the first division?
Walter: The league doesn’t matter to me. When I see that this team, which sometimes struggled in the second division, is now playing a very good role in the first division, I can only say: I love the offensive approach, my football should make players better. In the second division everyone tries hard to defend their goal. We lacked the killer instinct in front of the booth due to the development. It is easier to survive in the first division than to have to move up from the second to the first division.
WORLD: There are some stereotypes about you: impulsive, arrogant, loud.
Walter: I am very passionate for sure. I now approach things aggressively, I am courageous and opinionated.
WORLD: How would you describe yourself?
Walter: I am in need of harmony, and I want a close exchange with those responsible in the club. I have a wonderful wife, three children and a dog. I stand behind my team – and ward off the things that run against them or that I see as unjust. 1000 percent. That might come across as harsh at times, but it shouldn’t be. Anyone who knows me knows: I am a very calm person. Everyone screams for guys, I’m not 0-8-15. I have a different approach.
Walter: I look at different teams and ways of playing. It is noticeable that the teams that are further down in the table play defensive, cautious football, they mainly hide themselves. That wouldn’t be my idea. Then I would take a more offensive approach.
WORLD: How is that supposed to work?
Walter: Defensive tactics may only make teams more anxious. Every child starts playing football for fun. Children want to score goals, not prevent them as a priority. This joy can and must also exist above, that is the point of the game.
WORLD: Can that work in professional football?
Walter: Naturally! My approach is to bring back the joy of the game. To have the ball and chase. You can still think defensively, together, have an organization. Everyone carries this feeling within themselves, it should be tickled out more. The pressure to only think about losing, jobs and negative cases, ruins a lot. I am a soccer designer, not a destroyer. The ball was not invented to be kicked, but to be caressed. People want to create something special with the ball.
WORLD: Is it destroyed and prevented too often?
Walter: I believe that this way of thinking hampers and prevents players in their development and creativity. That’s a problem for me. Due to the defensive tactical constraints, the player is made a student, is not of age. And the desire for football is less. The players need to be encouraged in their decision-making, to be able to decide correctly for themselves.
WORLD: Is the problem with the teams playing too defensively, especially in the lower third of the table?
Walter: It is often discussed whether, due to the quality of the players, no other way of playing is possible. There is an approach of standing in the back, waiting for counterattacks and standards. I respect that. My approach is: The pitch is over 100 meters long: I try to attack the opponent as early as possible so that I don’t have to go that far to the goal. It’s better to run five meters fast than chase 40 meters. Of course, this also includes being quick and good at counter-pressing. It’s exhausting, but in the end it’s more fun for the players and me. That is my conviction, although of course counter-protection is required. If I don’t have courage and don’t take a certain risk, I will get stuck in life.
WORLD: How many of the 18 Bundesliga teams do you think are acting, how many are just reacting?
Walter: To give a specific number would be presumptuous. The teams that are at the top, of course, act more, also a few teams from the middle of the table. At the latest in the lower third it will be less. There is definitely no team fighting “for survival”, I don’t like that phrase. Of course everyone in this business has a certain amount of pressure, but football is the best thing: the boys should act, have joy and passion. They certainly want to prove that in the table basement.
WORLD: So your football doesn’t only work with teams that are on top?
Walter: First of all, it’s about your own identity. My philosophy is proactive. At KSC we weren’t a top youth team, but we made it to the semi-finals of the German championship. At first glance, the team at Kiel wasn’t made for it either, when my assistant coach said: “Oh, does this work here, Tim?” But we have to get into the heads of the guys with the approach that the players can carry it . Even at VfB, an experienced player like Holger Badstuber, who has achieved everything in his career, got involved and enjoyed it.
WORLD: Is there too much being scouted, analyzed and paid attention to the opponent?
Walter: That is very important, but it’s about how much of it I pass on to my players – on the one hand in terms of team tactics, on the other hand in individual discussions. From this analysis I look for my own solutions for my team. I try to be a defensively well-organized, offensively-creatively thinking coach. I do not choose the prevention approach, not the – if you will – depressive game. Too many teams think they are on the brink.
WORLD: You mentioned joy, creativity. Mehmet Scholl said the players could “run 18 systems backwards and fart”.
Walter: I know that as a trainer I have to be a professional and an educator. Especially nowadays the calls for decision making and independence are getting louder. That’s what I want to educate my players about. We need types – and that’s the only way they can be developed and integrated. On the pitch and in life. Systems into which they are forced prevent this. Children don’t start playing eleven against eleven. You play one against one, two against two. It’s about individuality, tricks, goals. And not about systems.
WORLD: Finally: could you join a club with your philosophy as a firefighter?
Walter: Firefighter? Let me put it this way: You don’t just extinguish with water. There must be other options too. In the hope that something will change. Doing the same thing over and over is not my approach. Basically, I’m dying for my next job and I’m ready at any time.