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A few signs of frazzled nerves appeared in the FC Bayern clubhouse over the past few days, as head coach Jupp Heynckes fired back at sporting director Matthias Sammer's criticism.
Anytime a proud club loses a match against a lesser opponent (all credit to BATE, but the talent gap is significant), there will probably be some hard words in the aftermath. But, as we all know, this goes a little deeper than that, because Sammer was criticizing FC Bayern even before the midweek loss. After the recent hard-fought win over Werder Bremen, Mr. Sammer said that the team's offense was "rubbish" for much of the afternoon, and seemed to indicate that the players were letting the recent accolades following their fine run of form go to their heads.
Three days later, Bayern traveled to Belarus and were handed a shock 3-1 defeat. I guess you could argue that the loss proved Sammer's point, but I wouldn't see it that way. I don't think the BATE defeat was a sign that "the light wasn't on" or that the team's play was "rubbish" or that we were lacking character. It was a poor performance, but I think it was a result of a handful of early mistakes that put us in a 1-0 hole and a determined BATE defense.
If Kroos had managed to convert that early chance (which was a good hustle play, just didn't get around on the shot enough), it's likely we would have gone on to win. Anyway, we've lost once in 9 matches, so it's not like it's panic time. Jupp Heynckes seemed to agree yesterday, answering Sammer's complaints:
"I did not agree with the tone of Sammer's criticism and with the way he went public with it, and I have told him how I feel about that ... Criticism should not be excessive and I believe that's the case here. He exaggerated."
Today, the big man came down from on high, putting an end (we hope) to the infighting. Uli Hoeneß advised both parties (but I think he probably was referring mostly to MS) that they "would be well-advised to keep their differences of opinion internal in the future." Uli also remarked that the BATE loss is not the end of the line, saying that "[w]e still have our Champions League destiny in our own hands."
Not only do we have Champions League destiny on our own hands, we're also still possessed of a perfect record in Bundesliga play. Surprising Eintracht Frankfurt is only 2 points behind us, but after that we have a bit of breathing room: BVB and Schalke are both 7 points back of us (sitting on 11 after 6 matches), and no one else has more than 10. If there's argument and infighting at this point, imagine what it would look like with a multiple-match losing streak.
So let's join Uli in calling for calm, and support the boys as we regroup this weekend. Hoffenheim is not an easy opponent; despite a slow start, they're undefeated in their last 3 and outscoring their opponents 6 to 1 in that stretch. If we can break down their defense and put some goals in the net - and I think we will - the bad-mouthing and personal problems will disappear. Preview of that one will be up tonight or tomorrow. Thanks for reading.