Malick Thiaw: Pay back the trust placed in me with good performances

Defender Malick Thiaw has played 1,415 of a possible 1,440 minutes in the league this season. In an interview with schalke04.de, he reflected on the first 16 games this term, plus discussed the current squad situation and the upcoming home game with 1. FC Nürnberg, which will see him face his friend Erik Shuranov.

Malick Thiaw

Malick, things haven’t been easy recently. Head coach Dimitrios Grammozis cannot take training due to his Covid-19 infection and was also absent for the FC St. Pauli game. On top of that, a number of important players are currently missing with injuries or illness. How did all that affect preparations for the game last weekend?
It’s obviously not great when you’re without a few players and your coach. We quickly accepted the situation though, and were focused on our preparations for the game with our assistant coaches. It would be too easy to blame the defeat on the circumstances, but, of course, it’s never easy when someone is missing. I’d like to wish the coach and my teammates a speedy recovery. Hopefully they’ll be back soon. At the same time though, I know we’ve got a good squad. Everybody has quality and we all want to show that on the pitch.

You mentioned the defeat at the Millerntor-Stadion. Having gone 2-0 down, you fought back against the league leaders. How gutting was it to not find the equaliser late on?
Every defeat hurts, although this one did in particular, because we saw that we could have stolen a point late on. We have the potential to win games, even at FC St. Pauli, a side that has won every home game this season. Unfortunately, we couldn’t manage this on Saturday. We have analysed the loss in detail since and spoken about what we could have done better.

We’ve dropped a few unnecessary points and that frustrates me.

Malick Thiaw

You’ve featured in all 16 league games this season, starting every single one, only coming off against Holstein Kiel due to injury. How do you think your campaign has gone so far?
I’m obviously happy that the coaches continue to place their trust in me every week. I’m trying to pay that back constantly with good performances in games and in training. In my opinion, I’ve been able to do that too. The feedback from the bosses has been positive as well. However, I won’t rest on my laurels. I will continue to work hard on myself and look to improve so that the team can be successful.

We’re almost at the halfway point in the season. How do you think the team has done?
We’ve dropped a few unnecessary points and that frustrates me. Looking at the table, we should have more points on the board really. My aim is for us to climb a few places – I want to get to the top! I want to contribute with good performances and be more dangerous in front of goal too. I’ve got room for improvement in that regard.

1. FC Nürnberg will visit the VELTINS-Arena for the final game of the first half of the season on Friday. They’ve got your Germany U21s teammate, Erik Shuranov, up front. What are his strengths?
He’s got a really good shot and he knows how to use his physicality. He’s able to often hold the ball up well.

Are you looking forward to taking him on?
Definitely. From our time together with the U21s, Erik has become a good friend of mine. We’re regularly in contact and we often speak about our games. I want to be able to talk to him about a Schalke win after this one, though!

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