MUNICH, GERMANY - MAY 24: Uli Hoeness talks to the media during the presentation of the 'Bayern Muenchen Erlebniswelt' at Allianz Arena on May 24, 2012 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)
FC Bayern president Uli Hoeneß weighed in on the club's upcoming season with a pair of interviews over the past week. Uli actually gave a few interesting quotes on a number of subjects: he said that Bayern needs to be more humble, and must avoid falling back on past success as an answer to failure. He also reiterated the club's interest in Javi Martinez, but said the club won't pay the reputed 40 million Euro release fee. And, he also talked up the new boys Pizarro and Mandzukic, calling Mandzu "a great header of the ball."
But the most eyebrow-raising moment was his comment on striker Mario Gomez. The Yahoo! article linked above quotes him as saying "We now have alternatives for Mario Gomez. This is a prerequisite for success. He is good - but not very good." I thought this might have been a scandalous mis-translation by an American media group looking for attention, but the German rendition appears to be the same: "Gomez is gut - nicht sehr gut." It appears that our new forwards might get some good minutes this year, as awareness of Gomez's shortcomings starts to filter out.
I generally try to stay away from throwing out heavy-handed opinions on Bayern players, because I know that everyone has some fans who really like him and some fans who would just really like to get rid of him. That's probably even more so than usual with Gomez, possibly the team's most divisive figure aside from Robben. On the one hand, his limited technical skills and lack of ability in the open field are hard to ignore. At the same time, he does have over 25 goals during each of the past 2 Bundesliga seasons, as well as numerous big goals in the Champions League and for the national team. It's hard to talk criticize someone who's putting up numbers like that.
In the immediate aftermath of the Champions League final, I'd say my confidence in Gomez was at an all-time low. I thought Dzeko would have been a great move, and I was even holding out hope that we'd make a move to raid Real Madrid or Milan for one of their stars. Well, we didn't do anything of that caliber, but Pizarro and Mandzukic are solid players who will score goals if we get them on the field. The good news - whether you love Gomez or find him disappointing - is that we've got people we can bring into the game in the late stages for some instant offense. Even when Gomez was playing great and avoiding mistakes, you can't expect him to score in every match. Last year, we didn't have anyone who could come off the bench and threaten the opponent's defense, and we especially didn't have anyone who could bring a different skill set and force the defense to adjust. Olic still had some excellent skills, but he was injured for much of the year and appeared to be a half a step slow once he got back. Petersen is talented, but would have looked out of his depth in (for instance) that semi-final vs. Real Madrid. And Kroos and Müller, who may have combined for an interesting duo late in the match, were never an option because constant injuries to Robben and Schweinsteiger required them to play elsewhere.
This season, we have a lot more cover at the forward spots. In a sense, this might take some of the pressure off of Gomez. It won't matter whether he's really as great as his numbers suggest. Hopefully, he won't need to be. So we can argue over Mario's skills and usefulness if we want, and I'm sure we'll be doing plenty of that. But I'd also like point out that our other options are much, much better this coming season, and the need for one guy to score a winner in every match will be reduced. So, in that sense, I agree with Uli - it's a great move to get some new blood on the bench, and getting production from someone other than Gomez will, indeed, be a prerequisite for success.
Liga Total! Cup starts this coming weekend. We'll look ahead to the four participating clubs this week, along with a few other things. Thanks for reading.