As always, my favorite person in the realm of football has taken on the eternally optimistic, positive attitude that he always has about a new season, a new coach and new goals. There was a fantastic interview with him over at FCB.Com so I thought I'd share it.
Netherlands international Mark van Bommel has been at Bayern for three years now – and has already been managed by four head coaches. As of this term, his fellow countryman Louis van Gaal has taken over the Munich helm with the aim of leading FCB to silverware. fcbayern.de spoke to the inspirational 32-year-old midfield man about the new boss, his training methods, and the job of captain at the club.
Interview: Mark Van Bommel:
fcbayern.de: Mark, you had a team brunch on Sunday. How was it?
Mark van Bommel: "Very good. We have a few newcomers this season, so a team building session was good in terms of helping the new guys integrate. And we had the wives and girlfriends there too, which is great for the overall atmosphere. The wives get to know each other better. And as we all know: men always do better when their women are feeling good (laughs)."
fcbayern.de: What are your impressions after six days’ training under new boss Louis van Gaal?
Mark Van Bommel: "Very good indeed. He know exactly what he wants, and he’s always very direct. Before every session, he tells us what he’s expecting and what he wants to see. And if we make mistakes, he points out exactly what went wrong. He has his own style, but it’s very benevolent. And he’s laid down rules for our ‘community’, but you can do what you want within the rules."
fcbayern.de: It’s been interesting to see the squad practising certain passing moves repeatedly and for minutes on end.
Van Bommel: "That’s right. He wants us doing things automatically, so we gain a second or two in matches, in that we always have solutions for certain situations. Everyone knows exactly what he has to do, where he should move, and where he can direct a pass, or where he has to run if we’re pressing. That’s what makes a good team. That allows you to control and dominate a game."
fcbayern.de: How’s the team reacted to the training methods?
Van Bommel: "I think the team’s picking it all up well, because we know we’ll all improve as a result. The coach also explains very clearly why we do each exercise. We need that to stop us running around like headless chickens."
fcbayern.de: What lies behind these methods? What kind of football do you think you’ll be playing next season?
Van Bommel: "I think it’s fair to call it controlled offensive football. When we’re in possession, we’ll use the whole of the pitch and try to avoid losing the ball too quickly, especially in our own half. We’ll only take risks up front, never near our own goal. And when our opponents are in possession, we’ll use a pressing game to deny them any options to pass."
fcbayern.de: And where will you be playing this season?
Van Bommel: "Up to now I’ve been one of two defensive midfielders in front of the back four. If we use a diamond, like we’ve had in training so far, I can also play right midfield. Those are the two positions where I’m at my best. I can play elsewhere too, but at the end of the day, it’s up to the coach."
fcbayern.de: Anatoliy Tymoshchuk has arrived as a holding midfielder. What do you think of him?
Van Bommel: "He’s a good player. We met by chance at the airport a couple of weeks ago and travelled together into town. We had a nice chat. He’s a good lad, like all the other new guys. I’m sure we could play well together."
fcbayern.de: You took over as captain from Oliver Kahn last season. Van Gaal hasn’t named his captain yet, but says that whoever it is will always play.
Van Bommel: "Then I’d have nothing against staying as captain (laughs). But seriously, I was very proud of being named captain last term and would be delighted to continue. But if I don’t, it’s not the end of the world. The important thing is a well-functioning team."
fcbayern.de: You spent a long time considering whether to extend your contract with Bayern. Was it the right decision?
Van Bommel: "Yes, absolutely. I initially wanted a two-year deal back then, so I could plan a little longer term for me and my family, but the club only offered me a year. That’s why I needed a good think about it, but it would have been hard to decide against Bayern Munich. I know what I’ve got with this club, and now we have a coach whose ideas I can easily identify with. I have a good feeling about the coming season."
I love that he gave Tymoshchuk a ride into town and dropped him at his hotel. Already trying to make the new boys feel welcome. And I love his attitude about being Captain or not. Of course, it would make me delighted to see him reprise the Captain's role, but we'll see what happens.