Jupp Heynckes tightens the screw on his Bayern Munich machine



Jupp Heynckes was not happy. The Bayern Munich manager had seen something he found unacceptable. Weisse Socken. White socks. Unbelievable. Had he not told the entire squad to wear black socks for this particular training session in Qatar? And yet there were Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos in white socks. “We have a joint goal we are working towards,” he barked at the players. “We need discipline. And that starts with having the same socks.”

The manager even wanted to fine the two players. The club captain, Philipp Lahm, was told to collect the money but in the end they arrived at a truce. Heynckes, however, had made his point. Schweinsteiger and Kroos, needless to say, wore black socks for the afternoon session. “Did our manager overreact? No, I think he did the right thing,” said the Bayern chief executive, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

FC Bayern Muenchen v Chelsea FC - UEFA Champions League Final

 Inside him raged an incredible determination to make up for that gruesome night last May when his team had dominated Chelsea in the Champions League final but still, somehow, managed to lose on penalties. At their own home. After missing a penalty in extra time. Schweinsteiger, for one, was in tears after missing his spot-kick.

Up in the stands in the Allianz Arena on that May evening sat Uli Hoeness, completely expressionless. The Bayern president cannot stand defeats. He talked after the game about “this not being the time to criticise anyone”, but he was already thinking about the ruthless decisions needed to make Bayern winners again. “We used to laugh about Leverkusen always finishing second. Now that is us,” he said pointedly.

Hoeness’s first victim was the sporting director, Christian Nerlinger. The former midfielder had annoyed the president in March 2012 when he had conceded the title to Dortmund after a defeat against Leverkusen that left Bayern seven points behind the leaders. “When a sporting director says that the title is lost when nothing has been decided then I am of the opinion that someone in the club must say: ‘No, no, that is actually not the case’,” Hoeness told die Abendzeitung in October. “It gives the wrong signal to the team, when the club lies on its back and puts its four legs up in the air.



Against Chelsea, Hoeness had also noticed two other weaknesses in the squad. First, there was no “calf-biter”, no Jens Jeremies in the team, a defensive midfielder who did the really dirty work – and enjoyed doing so. Second, the Bayern bench had looked a bit too callow for Hoeness’s liking on a few occasions that season. “We need players with international experience, even on the bench,” he said.

For their “calf-biter”, Bayern turned to Athletic Bilbao’s Javi Martínez, a defensive midfielder who had called Cristiano Ronaldo a “son of a bitch” during one particularly bad-tempered match the previous campaign. The then 23-year-old was exactly what Bayern wanted and, after paying a Bundesliga record fee of €40m (his buy-out clause), Hoeness admitted that they probably had paid “€10m too much”. No matter, they had got their man.

Other signings were the relatively unknown centre-back Dante from Borussia Mönchengladbach, who has since become a Brazil international, as well as the outrageously talented midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri from Basel for €11.6m and Wolfsburg’s Croatia international Mario Mandzukic, who was the joint-top scorer at Euro 2012 with three goals.

n August 2012, Bayern started their new campaign amid questions over whether the players had managed to get over the trauma of Chelsea. One psychologist had suggested that some of the players could suffer from a lack of self-belief and mood swings, which could “lead to depression”.

Hardly. Bayern’s response has been utterly magnificent. They started their season by beating Dortmund in the Super Cup and went on to win their first nine games, scoring 27 goals in the process. After a blip against Bate Borisov in the Champions League they have gone back to pulverising their opponents. They have won 18 of their first 22 league games and are 15 points ahead of second-placed Dortmund after this weekend’s results. Away from home they have won 10 out of 11 games, including Friday’s 2-0 win at Wolfsburg, and conceded only once.

In the five matches after the winter break, Bayern have collected 15 points, scored 13 goals and conceded none. They have become a machine. All talk of Guardiola joining in the summer has not had an impact on the team – or the manager.

The former Bayern player Paul Breitner, during the half-time break in the 4-0 trouncing of Schalke, said he was “a bit sad” that opponents were “so afraid of losing big” they hardly bothered turning up. “They don’t even want to score a goal,” he said. “They are thinking: as long as we only lose 2-0 or 3-0 then that’s great. We [Bayern] are not even in third gear and we’re already 2-0 up.”

and talked about how much he has enjoying being a manager. “The past six months have been great,” he said. “I have really enjoyed them. To be happy at work is the most important thing.”

That, and matching socks, of course.

Read Jupp Heynckes tightens the screw on his Bayern Munich machine: Arsenal face a formidable side forged by a manager determined to go out in a blaze of glory by winning the Champions League.


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: