The Olympics are over, but Matthias Sammer completed a minor marathon on Wednesday morning, with six media sessions involving 27 journalists and five hours of questions, all of which he patiently answered. Six weeks after his arrival at FCB, the new board member for sport covered a range of topics including Jupp Heynckes, transfers, and German virtues. We summarise the significant statements.
Matthias Sammer on…
…his first few weeks at Bayern: “Obviously, both sides have to get used to each other. It was a change for me, but also a minor one for Bayern. After ten days I sensed things were beginning to fall into place and I knew my way around. My spell with the DFB was very important, because I learned so many aspects of the theory. I'm delighted at the chance to work here with Bayern."
…what he's observed at training sessions: “I'm a little puzzled by the question as to why I watch every training session. I think it's a given. You can only pass a verdict on details if you’ve watched the details. Bayern is a huge club with fantastic foundations, but there's still a little more potential, and I think it's a question of details. That doesn't mean I'm interfering with the coach's daily work. The coach is solely responsible for team management, the training programme, selection and the line-up. I'm his partner if there's anything he needs to know. Otherwise, I'm less interested in these aspects. But obviously, I'm interested in the more strategic things, the medical unit, the fitness coaching, the overall environment. How should I judge these matters if I've not experienced it in detail? And especially not in critical situations, which is when you can see best."
…Jupp Heynckes: “He's doing a really good job, and he’s respected both here and by the world outside. We have an outstanding relationship. I don't know if the coach will like this, but he could be my dad. I'm enthralled by the way he thinks about football. As I said, the basics are in place, or I wouldn't have come. If you want a relationship based on trust and the head coach doesn't want it, it can't work. But for all this, I don't believe we'll win every game this season. There will be situations where we have to put up a united front. But I can see no reason whatsoever for even a single percentage point of doubt that it'll work."
…his impressions of the players: “I see a team which makes me feel good. But we're right at the start, we've not played in the cup or the league, only the Supercup. We need to be cautious. There are bound to be problems."
… Potential signings, including Javi Martinez: “First up: we believe in our team. There's incredible potential for development. Second: if we feel, taking into account both sporting and financial considerations, that it makes sense to do something, it might still happen. We've agreed it would be someone for the central area, which is why we're interested in Javi Martinez. Taking everything together, he’s a type of player we don't have at the moment."
…transfer decisions: “If you knew how many players we’ve talked about in recent weeks, you'd realise that transfers are always a unanimous decision at Bayern. If there's anyone to sign, it's not decided by Sammer, it's decided by Bayern Munich. We can't sign players for Bayern without a unanimous decision, including the coach."
…the club management: “There's any number of theories in Germany that Beckenbauer, Hoeneß and Rummenigge basically can't work together. But just look at the club. FC Bayern has been in Europe's top five for the last 30 years - an incredible run of sustained success. Obviously, there are sometimes matters where one guy has a certain opinion and the other guy another. And obviously, these are extroverts and personalities, they’re in demand and always being asked questions. But despite it all, these theories won't go away. And now we're hearing: they've added Sammer, that can't possibly go well! And yes, if it doesn't go well, I'll have to go! Bayern Munich is what matters! If I'm not able to settle in and accommodate what has been built up organically here over many long years, I'll have no right to be here."
…his youth development philosophy: “Philosophy is a big word. You can't just transfer it like for like from an association to a club. You have to work on a philosophy for a while. I don't think we'll be finished before Christmas."
…German footballing virtues: “We had leaders when we were winning trophies, we had clear hierarchies and superb individuals. But according to the modern definition of German virtues, we only had roughhouse guys, who fought, bit, spat and kicked their way to the top. Franz Beckenbauer, Günter Netzer, Thomas Hässler and Mehmet Scholl - according to today's definition of German virtues, these were just thugs! Why can't we focus more on our strengths from the past, without losing our openness to a better future? Why do we have such difficulty defining it? I just don't understand."
…Germany's footballing identity: “Do we actually have one at the moment? Apart from saying we’ve got some good lads coming through? I don't see one. Right now, I can't really define our football. You can define Spain, Italy and some other nations, but I'm having problems with Germany. What do we stand for? At the moment it's for good young players, but overall, we could restart work on our footballing identity, because we should always look reality straight in the eyes. I think we're heading in a very good direction, but we still need the courage to keep working on what it means. Obviously, we have to take note of a couple of facts. With the exception of youth teams, it's a while since we’ve won an international trophy."