Düsseldorf – From his point of view, the upheaval at Werder Bremen has now been completed. Rouwen Hennings, goalscorer from Fortuna Düsseldorf, Bremen’s upcoming opponent, has long since considered the relegated team when it comes to the favorites for promotion to the Bundesliga. In an interview with the DeichStube, the 34-year-old describes the mood at the opponent after the change of coach with “Peace, joy, pancakes”: “It seems to fit with Ole Werner.” Hennings, the northern light born in Bad Oldesloe, also talks about his career and about the Werder strikers Niclas Füllkrug and Marvin Ducksch. And the former U21 national player reveals that he once aroused the interest of Werder in the B youth.
Mr. Hennings, you played for three clubs in the north: Hamburger SV, FC St. Pauli and VfL Osnabrück. Was a commitment to Werder Bremen never up for debate?
There was once a situation in which Werder almost became an issue. In the B youth, when my contract with HSV expired, I was told that Bremen would be interested. But the matter never became concrete. I also felt that I was in good hands in Hamburg. So I did my thing at HSV.
You have been playing for Fortuna Düsseldorf since 2015. How is life as a North German with the Rhinelanders?
All right, I can’t complain. The people here are open and warm. From the beginning, I and my family liked it. I always had a good impression of Fortuna, where it was made very easy for me, from the games with St. Pauli and Karlsruher SC. That’s why I favored the move from Burnley to Düsseldorf at the time, also because of the great stadium and the lovable and attractive city.
Before Werder Bremen against Düsseldorf: Fortuna striker Rouwen Hennings in the DeichStube interview
Keyword: Burnley. How was the year on the island?
A good experience, a nice experience for the family too. I was in the team that got promoted to the Premier League. Unfortunately, in the end there was a lack of a sporting perspective. Ashley Barnes, a legend who still plays there, came back from injury so I didn’t get many games.
You are now in your seventh year with Fortuna. They have settled down. Will you end your career in Düsseldorf?
It could well be the case. I am fit and fortunately healthy. I want to play for a few more years. I think I can still give the team a lot.
Her contract runs until the summer. Have there already been discussions about an extension?
Not yet, but there is still plenty of time. At Fortuna, other topics were recently in the foreground.
A new chairman of the board was appointed in Alexander Jobst, and sports director Uwe Klein was put on leave. Previously there had been a change in the position of assistant coach. Lots of changes before the reboot this year. How is the unrest in management affecting the team?
What happens on the Executive Board has no direct impact on our work. So it doesn’t affect us in any way. The exchange with the assistant coaches did not take place between two matchdays, but during the break. So we had the opportunity to adapt to the new constellation with Manfred Stefes.
At the end of the old year there were sporting ups and downs. First a win against Darmstadt, then the remarkable draw against leaders St. Pauli, then the home defeat against Sandhausen. How do you assess the situation at Fortuna?
We are all aware that the situation should not be underestimated. We would have wished it differently. However, we can already assess the situation correctly. We were rarely inferior to our opponents. In many games it was just the killer instinct that was missing, i.e. the ultimate consequence.
Düsseldorf striker Rouwen Hennings warns in an interview about Werder Bremen
How do you rate Werder Bremen’s performance?
Bremen has experienced a major upheaval. I still remember the first leg. There were a few players in the eleven who were later sold for good money. Naturally, there was a phase in which the team had to find each other. Then it was more than unfortunate with the old coach. Now it seems to me like this: peace, joy, pancakes – in Ole Werner they have found a coach who is in demand in German football. It seems to fit well. As a North German, I naturally have sympathies for the North Clubs, including Werder. I wish you all the best, just not on Saturday. (Werder Bremen against Fortuna Düsseldorf is available here in the live ticker of the DeichStube)
Niclas Füllkrug was released from quarantine in the middle of the week. Bremen can therefore start with their regular attack of Füllkrug/Ducksch. A disadvantage for Fortuna?
Sure, certainly if the opponent can play with the well-rehearsed regular line-up. This increases the quality of the opponent. But we don’t want to focus on that, we have to look at ourselves, at our possibilities.
In the ranking of the specialist magazine Kicker, the two Bremen top scorers are placed ahead of you. You end up in twelfth place. Is this classification fair?
I have not read this assessment, do not know which criteria it is based on. In addition, I don’t follow journalists’ reviews, but listen to the coach and follow his analysis. I know how to classify my performance. And I don’t think I’m playing such a bad season.
Constant observers of the games have noted that without the Hennings hit, Düsseldorf would be in acute relegation trouble.
This calculation is not that simple. It’s my job to score goals, a job like any other striker at any other club. Such an offset does nothing. The saves made by our keeper Florian Kastenmeier and Raphael Wolf, which brought us points, could just as well be referred to. Everyone in the team has their task and does their job.
With KSC you have been promoted to the 2nd division, with Fortuna 2018 to the Bundesliga. You know how ascension works. What do second division teams have to do about it?
It takes consistency, that’s the most important thing. St. Pauli did that brilliantly in the first half of the season, but Regensburg, Darmstadt and Paderborn also had strong phases for a long time. A few troops can play football in this balanced league, but it is important to constantly perform. In the 2nd league, a lot depends on the form on the day, on many little things. For no team is a game a sure-fire success.
HSV has been experiencing this for years now, and Werder and Schalke are currently doing the same.
That’s right, it’s a new experience for Bremen and Schalke. It is extremely difficult to assert oneself in everyday life in the second division. Everyone wants to annoy the favorites. It then means making sure that the connection is not lost and that the club is passed through completely.
Also interesting: club legend Ailton with goal tips for Werder Bremen striker Marvin Ducksch
Fortuna Düsseldorf striker Rouwen Hennings: Werder Bremen will play for promotion
How will the promotion race develop?
It stays exciting until the end. St. Pauli is definitely there. Wait and see what will happen to Darmstadt and Regensburg, Nuremberg and Heidenheim. HSV, Schalke and Werder also make it to the top and have a say in the final stages.
And Fortune? What is the goal for the season?
We are striving for the said consistency in our game in order to get into other regions of the table. It will be important that we don’t lose our nerve and fall into actionism.