For English-speaking Bundesliga fans, Raphael Honigstein’s weekly posts for The Guardian are a godsend: they often generate the first belly-laugh of an otherwise dreary Monday morning, while also qualifying as essential reading. The Bayern Offside recently had the opportunity to talk to Honigstein about FC Bayern and some broader Bundesliga topics. Over the next two days, I’ll be publishing the conversation in two parts. Below you’ll find part I.
Bayern Offside: Do reports of Ribery’s private visit with Hoeness and a visit to Munich by his agent truly indicate a good faith negotiation on an extension is occurring?
Raphael Honigstein: As far as I know, Ribery’s agents have quite upset Bayern and were given short shrift when they asked to meet with the board last week. It’s probably all part of a carrot and stick policy by Bayern, who want to keep Ribery, but preferably without the entourage. There’s a feeling they’re not that unhappy about the whole prostitute business either. I’m just not sure Louis van Gaal really wants to keep him.
Bayern Offside: Though Mario Gomez was Bayern’s leading scorer for a long stretch, many would rate his season as disappointing. Do you think that’s a fair assessment, or is he a victim of both circumstance and the burden of living up to a very high transfer fee? Do you think Toni Kroos will prove to be a more complimentary player for Gomez’s talents?
Raphael Honigstein: Gomez has committed the cardinal sins (in LvG’s eyes) of giving the ball away too much. Technically, he looks not quite good enough at this level, but I’m sure he can still improve. In addition to that, he has suffered from RibRob’s reluctance to cross the ball. Kroos will definitely play more through-balls to Gomez, so in that sense, his job should become a bit easier next season. The transfer fee, by the way, actually works in his favour: if he hadn’t been so expensive, I’m sure Bayern might have tried to trade him for Dzeko in the summer.
Bayern Offside: Hannover 96 was the subject of your piece on SI.com this past week. Their club president Martin Kind is leading the court battle to invalidate the 50+1 rule ownership rule in the Bundesliga. Does this case represent the greatest threat to 50+1 at the moment or are there signs that more than a handful of clubs that could be changing their position on the issue?
Raphael Honigstein: In the last league (1 and 2) meeting, Kind’s proposal’s were voted down 35 to 1. I’m still not convinced he will really take it all the way to court, I consider it more of a threat at this stage. With Hannover likely to get relegated, he might also have more pressing concerns in the interim.
In tomorrow’s Part II, we ask Honigstein if ‘Gladbach is the next big thing in the Bundesliga following their impressive performances against Bayern this season, and to look into his crystal ball to see which keeper could be in Bayern’s future..
Raphael Honigstein is the author of Englischer Fussball: A German View of Our Beautiful Game. He can be found losing his money in fantasy football at www.11kicks.com every weekend.