A couple of days before the Bayern Munich v Juventus game, I predicted that, in the event of a Bayern win, it would give those behind the club the chance to portray the national team in an unfavourable light, with special emphasis on the Germany defeat to Italy in the Euro 2012 semi-final. Not only would those at Bayern Munich delight in their own victory I believe, but take it as a opportunity to ‘run-down’ the national team. I was immediately shouted down by several friends, Bayern fans, who said no such thing would occur and that Bayern were above such behaviour.
It gives me no great pleasure to today say to them “I told you so”:
Sammer: Haben es besser gemacht als die Nationalelf – 3 April 2013
Joachim Löw weist Matthias Sammers Aussagen zurück – 4 April 2013
Jogi has responded with the facts apparent to anyone – that Euro goalscorer Mario Balotelli was not a member of the Juventus team and that two of their star players Andrea Pirlo and Gianluigi Buffon both had clear ‘off-days’. He did however go ahead and commend Bayern’s performance.
Might I also add that Bayern’s star players on the night were, in the majority of opinions including mine, Franck Ribery (a Frenchman) and Mario Mandžukic (a Croatian), so how can a comparison be made with the national team in any reasonable capacity is a mystery to me.
It is a shame when on a night of such glory and such an impressive performance from their players, those in charge of Bayern use it as an excuse for yet more juvenile playground “My team is better than your team” snide jibes that would ill serve a ten-year-old, yet alone senior figures in the football world.
One might even consider whether it is possible that those quick to comment could have their own personal axes to grind and have been waiting for a such a situation to arise where they could do so.
A couple weeks ago Juventus coach Antonio Conte received criticism from some quarters for his exhuberant celebrations during a Serie A win against Bologna. With much arm-waving and blowing of a kiss to his young daughter through the camera, his behaviour appeared, to his opponents at least, to be ‘over-the-top’.
Which begs the question – exactly what portrayed football in a worse light that week? A delightful infectious display of joy from one man, or the deliberate undermining by his Champions League counterparts of another professional within the game?
In the same week, Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes decided it was his duty to order Joachim Löw to select Stefan Kiessling for the German national team, despite Löw, rightly, having exercised his right to choose whoever he pleased for his own squad, and having given, it would seem countless times, his reasons for not choosing the Bayer Leverkusen shooter Kiessling.
This was followed a matter of 48 hours later by the usual diatribe from Uli Hoeness we are now becoming accustomed to the Monday before an international weekend. In the autumn we had had his ‘flying ping-pong tables from Mont Blanc’ classic remark, inferring that players away for an international tournament should have no ‘rest and relaxation’ periods. Yet appearing to contradict this by taking the Bayern Munich players to visit Madame Tussauds on the way to the Emirates! He surpassed himself this time, however, by seemingly believing that Florentino Perez needed advice on how to run Real Madrid – suggesting that Klopp or Heynckes would be fit to coach Real Madrid, but not Löw.
Are we supposed to believe that these remarks, like clockwork, in the week of an international break are pure coincidence, I remain unconvinced. They appear more an attempt to undermine the running of the national team in the run up to the World Cup.
I am aware of Uli Hoeness’ benevolence, Gerd Müller in particular springs to mind, and this surely makes such remarks even more unbecoming.
Yes, of course, we all believe in free speech, and Hoeness, Heynckes and all have the right to express their opinion, within reason, and it would be a sad day if they couldn’t. To me it is more a question of etiquette and manners.
Those in control of Bayern could learn a lot from the likes of Thomas Müller, his joy whenever the ball hits the back of the net is a delight and never fails to bring a smile to my face – he is the most positive of role models, on and off the pitch, for young children starting out in the world.
So. Stop the sniping. Stop the puerile point-scoring. Enjoy the wonderful game, and respect all those who are involved in it. Show us that your great Club can not only be class on the pitch, but portray a dignified image off it.