Just what was Bayern president Uli Hoeneß thinking? Or, more to the point, was he thinking at all? It’s certainly hard to believe that Hoeneß, in his time a national squad member and now former general manager of the best club in German football, had his brain in gear at all.
It’s been a week now, and football journalism has been talking about almost nothing except FC Bayern München. It all started on 29th October, when Hoeneß gave Louis van Gaal a verbal drubbing after the side’s victory on that day: he accused the Dutch coach of being “completely impervious to criticism”, of not doing enough to encourage all the members of the squad, and of not having prepared a plan in case important stars got injured.
The example of Mario Gomez, however, is enough to show that this is a far too one-sided way of seeing things. Until recently, his habit of fouling up even the best of goal chances earned him the nickname “Rumpelfuß” (or “clubfoot”); but thanks to van Gaal, he’s now shooting like a sniper, putting five goals in the back of the net in the last four Bundesliga games. Then he did a hat-trick in the Champions’ League against Cluj. So there.
This 4:0 victory over Cluj went almost completely unnoticed due to the feud with Hoeneß, despite the fact that the two have patched things up, as van Gaal complained to a television reporter after the game. The reporter didn’t even have to ask him about it, though, with the thin-skinned van Gaal just bursting to get onto the topic he is supposedly fed up of talking about. Not that the team’s performance on Saturday will do anything to calm the atmosphere, with Bayern’s catch-up race back up to the top of the table getting off to a bad start: last year’s champions couldn’t manage anything better than an embarrassing 3:3 draw with Mönchengladbach, who look like they are on their way out of the top league this season. Like many others, I can’t help asking myself whether the team is working against its own coach – on paper, they shouldn’t have trouble winning, and wins are the only thing that will keep van Gaal in his job.
At all events, van Gaal has not been making himself popular recently, with Hoeneß’ blast only coming after van Gaal had moaned about how many ex-players there are on the Bayern board. “The players always have some sympathetic figure to go crying to,” he continued. Well, after the 3:3 draw and van Gaal’s outburst of rage in the changing rooms afterwards, there’s every reason for the less robust players to shed a few tears. Even the most optimistic Bayern fans will probably be sobbing as the distance between them and Dortmund at the head of the table grows to 12 points. The holders of the record for the most Bundesliga titles are currently trailing behind no-namers like Nürnberg (Who-berg?), Freiburg, Mainz and Eintracht Frankfurt. Frankfurt?! I mean honestly, they used to eat teams like Frankfurter(s) for breakfast! If I supported Bayern, I’d be blubbing like a little baby.
Which still poses the question of what Hoeneß thought he would achieve by adding to the misery? Perhaps he thought things had got a little too quiet, that Bayern were getting used to mediocrity, and that he ought to rouse van Gaal to action. After all, if he’d really wanted to get rid of the Dutch coach, he let the perfect opportunity go by when he renewed his contract recently. Whatever Hoeneß’ game is (and only he knows, if anyone does), he’s not doing Bayern a favour with all this controversy – nor is his tending to his own reputation as a fair player and honourable sportsman, either.
Results Matchday 11:
FC Schalke 04 – FC St. Pauli 3:0
Hamburger SV – 1899 Hoffenheim 2:1
Eintracht Frankfurt – VfL Wolfsburg 3:1
Borussia Mönchengladbach – Bayern München 3:3
SC Freiburg – 1. FSV Mainz 05 1:0
1. FC Nürnberg – 1. FC Köln 3:1
Hannover 96 – Borussia Dortmund 0:4
Bayer Leverkusen – 1. FC Kaiserslautern 3:1
VfB Stuttgart – Werder Bremen 6:0
1 Borussia Dortmund 28 P
2 1. FSV Mainz 05 24 P
3 Bayer Leverkusen 21 P
4 Eintracht Frankfurt 19 P
5 1899 Hoffenheim 18 P
6 Hamburger SV 18 P
6 1. FC Nürnberg 18 P
8 SC Freiburg 18 P
9 Bayern München 16 P
10 Hannover 96 16 P
11 Werder Bremen 14 P
12 VfL Wolfsburg 13 P
13 FC St. Pauli 13 P
14 VfB Stuttgart 10 P
15 1. FC Kaiserslautern 10 P
16 FC Schalke 04 9 P
17 1. FC Köln 8 P
18 Borussia Mönchengladbach 7 P