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Coach Heynckes Talks Shop

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The transfer rumors continue to bubble, but with the full club returning to practice this week, FC Bayern’s new manager Jupp Heynckes isn’t worried about guys that may be added to the fold later. He’s clearly focused on the roster we have now. The club’s official site contains a brief interview with Heynckes that has a few interesting points from the new boss.

In particular, it’s clear that no one wants a repeat of the van Gaal regime’s final season.  Now, to be fair, a repeat of van Gaal’s previous season would be ok, but that’s not what sticks in anyone’s mind.  Here’s why Jupp thinks everything will be different under him:

“I said time and again that it's necessary for Bayern to have a better balance between defence and attack in the new season.”

A huge plus, if indeed he’s able to stick to it.  All-out attack is fun to watch, but the problem is that when a club is pushing forward all the time, no lead is safe.  This is OK for a mid-level club that’s trying to push their way into the top part of the league.  If they have a good enough offense, they will have a good chance to score multiple goals per game, and probably out-gun their opponents a majority of the time.  But for a club that’s already at the top level, and wants to win trophies, getting into shoot-outs every week is too dangerous.  Even if your guns are better, you’re going to get shot about a quarter of the time, just through luck of the draw.

For this reason, it’s vital that FC Bayern get back to holding onto leads.  Once we go 2 goals up, the match should be money in the bank.  And that won’t happen without a solid commitment to defense from a tactical perspective.

Of course, this gets easier with the right personnel.  If we’re able to pick up Boateng, or someone even better, then our defense should improve regardless of any attempt at “balance.”

“I'm not a fanatic about playing styles. I'm flexible enough to make changes if I see things aren't working.”

If I wasn’t always told how humble and professional Heynckes is, I would have thought this a deliberate dig at van Gaal.  Either way, it’s nice to know we can mix it up a bit.  When you go against the best clubs (in both the Champions League and even the Bundesliga), they know what to expect.  They’ve seen our players, our formations, and our various tactical proclivities numerous times, on tape and often in person.  If you aren’t able to throw a new idea in sometimes, a good defense will chew you up, no matter who you throw in there. 

I would point out that there is a danger of going too far.  In other words, you don’t want to have a new formation each week.  Ideally, what we’d like to do is have one bread-and-butter formation that we generally use (probably that 4-2-3-1), then have two others that we can break out for a surprise factor or to keep the opponent guessing.

“That also means players switching position.  It's something all the great teams can do, switching things round in midfield, for example, without any obvious loss of quality."

Meh.  We’ve already been doing a lot of that, no?

“Bayern must always be aiming to play in the Champions League. My coaching staff and I will do whatever necessary to have the team fit enough to qualify."

 Here, Jupp is in full agreement with me, because I’ve been saying it for weeks: qualification into the Champions League group stage is not a given.  We could get drawn against Arsenal, Udinese, or a number of other dangerous teams.  There is definitely no time to ease into the schedule this year - all guns have to be firing from the first match, which is why the Audi Cup will be important.  Like I said last week, the club should already be in pretty good shape by then, and the Audi Cup should be used to work out the final wrinkles and check on the fitness of guys nursing injuries.

Anyway, it’s an interested interview, even though he doesn’t say too much.  Go read it if you get a chance - it’s available in 4 languages, apparently. 

Other news:

- Usami’s 1-year loan deal has been finalized

- Bayern is targeting Michael Essien?  What?

- Olic has returned to full training.  Sweeeet.

- Lastly, Torsten Frings has signed with Toronto FC of the MLS.  This means that fans in North America will have a chance to see the ex-Bayern man in person.

More tomorrow, I hope the Essien thing will die down.  Despite the tough-talking stance, I have a hunch Manchester City might be starting to consider lowering their asking price on Boateng.  But we should find out over the next few days.  Thanks for reading.