It's been a year-and-a-half since he arrived in Franconia, and it's time that has flown by for both 1. FC Nürnberg and Kevin Möhwald. The attacking midfielder is one of the most creative players in Germany, and has received wide acclaim for his performances - especially during the 2016-17 campaign.
As a result, Möhwald has been one of the key players in Alois Schwartz's squad and was a catalyst for their impressive turnaround after a tough start. He spoke to VAVEL UK about what's been and gone and what is to come this season, as well as how he operates on the pitch.
Bouncing back from the tough start and play-off defeat
It was far from a routine start to the season for Nürnberg, who had to wait until the seventh game of the campaign to finally grab their first win under Schwartz. This is something Möhwald would not pin down on the former SV Sandhausen boss, saying: "In the first six games, it was not down to the coach."
Instead, the 23-year-old believes there was an element of the missed promotion in the season past: "It was more likely that many of us were still engaged in the relegation play-off and were not yet back to the form of the previous season." He added, "If you do not go into the league with 100%, you have no chance to win the games."
Much like many teams who suffer the heartache of play-off defeat, a difficult period of form followed after their 2-1 aggregate loss to Eintracht Frankfurt. However, unlike many of the other sides to fall just short in the two-leg affair, Nürnberg have comeback well and look set for a better 2017
"On one hand it was difficult, on the other hand this is just how life goes sometimes," explained Möhwald on how he dealt with the loss. "Then we are handed new opportunities. Personally, I had this checked off from the beginning of pre-season. But as I said, I can really only speak for myself."
Kicker recognition and attacking, assisting intent
In his last season with Rot-Weiß Erfurt, the home-town midfielder was used exclusively through the middle of the pitch. However, his first season with FCN saw Möhwald deployed on either wing, and even right-back. Of this, he said, "This position is definitely my favourite. I feel most comfortable in the centre but can also play other positions."
A stellar first half of the season for Möhwald saw him score three goals and add a further seven assists to his personal tally. Those exploits earned him the accolade of being kicker's top 2. Bundesliga attacking midfielder, ahead of the likes of Johannes Wurtz and Nejmeddin Daghfous. Though Möhwald would not be getting carried away:
"Of course it is a nice confirmation of your own performance. But, naturally, I attach more importance to the coach’s opinions and feedback." He continued, "He was mostly satisfied with the first half of the season, but there is still a lot of work ahead of me."
Since arriving in Nürnberg, only two players - Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Vincenzo Grifo - have managed more assists in the top two tiers of German football. "What would have been possible if I had completed all the games right from the start? (Laughs)," he joked.
Möhwald quickly switched to a more humble tone, and credited his team-mates for being there to finish things off: "But seriously. You can see that I am not the finisher, but rather the one who makes the assists. But you also need the right players to convert the passes. Here, in Nürnberg, I am lucky here that these are available."
His shooting has also been on show this season with a few spectacular strikes to his name, though adding more goals to his game is something he is working hard on: "I am lucky that I have a good shot. Actually, I should to use it more often. This is what the coach asks me to do. But I often work on it after training."
Coping without Burgstaller and 2017 aims
There has been one big departure for the Franconians this month, which was the loss of Guido Burgstaller to Schalke 04. The Austrian forward was the league's top-scorer with 14 goals to his name, and both he and Möhwald formed a key partnership. In fact, Möhwald's assists for Burgstaller (5) was the most regular partnership in the league.
"Burgi was an extremely important player for us. This was not only apparent from his goals, but also from the way he acted within the team," commented Möhwald. The man who played behind Burgstaller feels it is a chance more than a loss: "His departure is now the chance for other players, such as the Cedi, who also has his own qualities."
"Cedi" is Cedric Teuchert, Nürnberg's striking starlet. The 20-year-old German youth international already has two goals and three assists in 268 minutes of senior league football for FCN. "Perhaps this is now the right step for him to grow into this role," said Möhwald. "In any case, I am confident that we will take this on together as a team."
As for what his goals for 2017 are, he's keeping it simple: "Personally, I want to remain healthy, maintain my performance of the Hinrunde and get rid of the mistakes."
With Nürnberg, it's a case of focusing on one thing at a time: "With the Club we look from game to game, so far we have been doing that quite well." However, Möhwald knows it boils down to getting the three points: "But of course we want to win every game. Of course even when this is difficult, we must tackle every game with this attitude."