Duetche Welle caught up with Bayern Munich's Mark van Bommel (and my favorite Dutchman) to ask him a few things. The article was published today, September 26, 2007. I always find him interesting.
Last year Dutchman Mark Van Bommel was the lone positive surprise on a disappointing Bayern squad. This year the midfielder is quietly anchoring a team trying to return to glory.
DW: In the off-season Bayern signed Ribery, Klose, Zé Roberto, and Luca Toni. Are you annoyed that you're no longer the star?
Mark van Bommel: Not at all. I'm not worried. I'd have to say it's good that others are now in the spotlight. You can take your place in the background again and just do your job on the pitch. That's important. The team respects and accepts me, and I've established myself.
DW: What's this team's potential?
Mark van Bommel: Well, we've only been together, practicing and playing together, for two months. And you can see that, with the players we have, we can gel very quickly. We have a fantastic locker room! If things happen, we sort them out ourselves. We don't need a coach who hands down fines or things like that. When someone's a bit out of form, the others help him. That's the mark of a good team If we stick together, great things could happen!
DW: Are you a hot head or do you just want to show your commitment?
Mark van Bommel: I try to fire up my teammates in a positive sense. You have to win head-to-head battles...they're the moments when games are won. You have to recognize those moments! And you try to influence the match!
DW: You're a very hard-nosed player as we saw against Fernando Meira in the League Cup. What happened there?
Mark van Bommel: It wasn't that bad -- Fernando Meira said that himself. I didn't touch him where it hurts most...just the stomach area. Of course, the papers wrote that I grabbed his privates but it wasn't that bad. Of course, something like that has no place on the pitch!
DW: Afterward Bayern's commercial manager, Uli Hoeness, talked about exercising restraint, and you said you needed to concentrate more on the game.
Mark van Bommel: Of course, negative images of players get created so quickly. And once you've gotten that label, it's hard to get rid of it.
DW: Do you try to provoke opponents?
Mark van Bommel: It's not just me. Every player tries to provoke opponents with technique or physical play.
DW: And psychologically?
Mark van Bommel: It's part of the game, but not the most important part.
DW: What would I have to do to provoke you right now?
Mark van Bommel: Not much!...You do almost anything to get the 3 points -- short of injuring an opponent, of course.
DW: Last year, you called for more German players at Bayern.
Mark van Bommel: Bayern is a German club. The main language we use has to be German. Fans have to be able to identify with the team. It's good if our main language is German. If the mix isn't right you need German players. But you also have to buy in quality!
DW: When you played in Spain, you told journalists to ask you questions in Spanish, not Dutch. You seem to consider integration very important.
Mark van Bommel: That's right. and not just for me. It's a duty, almost, for every player to learn the language when you go abroad. And the lifestyle so that you can fit in quickly and integrate into the team and into life off the pitch. You can't use Dutch, of course, to buy bread in Spain...I spent a year there. It's got almost everything. It's an excellent city with lots of culture, the ocean, beaches, good food and nice weather. It's a great place to live -- I think anyone could live there.
DW: How would you compare the club Barcelona with Bayern Munich? What are the differences?
Mark van Bommel: Things are a bit more hectic at Barcelona than at Bayern Munich. It's part of the culture. They elect a President every 4 or 5 years. That stirs things up because every 4 or 5 years you can have a different President and a different structure. It's part of the situation there, and you don't necessarily have to change. But Bayern is a much more solidly-structured club...Everybody knows everybody. It's great big family. There's nothing better than when a club creates a bond with players. They know what's going on, and everything takes care of itself. And they know that there's only one goal --winning is all that counts.
Source: Deutsche Welle