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Ivica Olic's Future and Past

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This is news that developed several days ago, but with three matches in eight days last week, we didn't really have time to address it. But, as several people pointed out in the comments section, Ivica Olic looks more likely than ever to leave FC Bayern this summer. Reports indicate that Olic has reached an agreement-in-principle with Wolfsburg. No signature has been obtained yet, but it seems like a deal is in place and several outlets state that, Wolfsburg or elsewhere, Olic won't be at Bayern next season.

This is a somber moment for Bayern fans, but not totally surprising.  Whatever his faults, Mario Gomez is scoring at an excellent clip - he's a good bet to lead the Bundesliga in goals for the second straight year.  And his goal in last week's Pokal match actually showed a good bit of finesse.  Of course, you need good back-ups when you're playing in three tough competitions.  So we're certainly likely to need and use Olic over the next four months.  But in the long run, he wants to be a starter.  And I can't really say I blame him.  He has faith in his own abilities and doesn't want to be consigned to the bench.  It would be more troubling if he said, "ah, screw it - I'm getting paid either way!"

So, if and when he does leave, we'll wish him all the best and remember some of the great moments he had for us.  An video recap:

Sorry about the music, it was the best combination of video clips I could find.

When fans talk about Mario Gomez, it's always said that he's a big, strong guy with a hard shot, but without much technique. He can hammer home the ball from short range, he's great at pouncing on loose rebounds, and he can use his size to create space. But he's not the kind of guy that will unleash a beautiful series of dribble moves to beat multiple defenders. The interesting thing is that Olic doesn't necessarily have the most brilliant touch on the ball, either. But unlike Gomez, his weapons aren't bulk and a powerful shot - they're a relentless, tireless energy combined with a quick mind that always seems to put him on the inside track for the ball. And he never gives the defenders a chance to rest. If I were a CB, I think I'd be more worried about playing against a guy like Olic, with his constant scrambling and cutting, than I would a brilliant dribbler or long-shot specialist.

Thinking back on that 2009-2010 Champions League run, it's always Robben that I remember first.  With good reason, because his late winners against Fiorentina and Man U established him as a club legend.  But Olic was just as vital to our run to the Final that year.  He scored twice in the Man U tie - first at the last minute in the home leg to give us a lead, then at the end of the first half in the second leg to get us back into the game.  If it weren't for him, that Robben volley-winner never happens.  And then came the second leg of the Lyon tie.  I remember watching that match at a bar on M Street, and I even convinced my sister to come down from Baltimore to watch it with me.  I believe it was the first match she'd ever seen.  She only saw three goals - all by Olic - and probably left thinking he was Michael Jordan, Mickey Mantle, and Wayne Gretzky of soccer, all rolled into one.

Also - does anyone remember a scene from that match where Olic actually sliced open his scalp while heading in the third goal?  I'm, like, 90% sure that happened.  And he started pointing at his head, and the rest of the team thought he was emphatically celebrating his header, and they started crowding around him and also pointing to his head, like "yeah, buddy, you're the man!"  Then Olic says, "no ... there's blood coming from my head."  Was this a dream that I had?

To be clear - no official deal has been signed, so there's still a chance that Olic could be back next year.  But even if leaves (as expected), he has a few more important shifts to put in for us.  Unlike the spring of 2010, where we were clear favorites in both domestic competitions, we're in a desperate street fight for each of the three trophies we're competing for this year.  Top-level teams always talk about needing depth, but it's even more true right now; see my post from Sunday about the details of our next five weeks.  Even if he's not in our first XI, Olic is going to get some time at one or both of the two striker positions.  So let's hope he has one or two more thrilling moments left in the tank.

As far as replacements, Bayern is said to be looking at John Guidetti, currently owned by Man City, but playing with Feyenoord Rotterdam on loan.  Monpellier's Olivier Giroud is also mentioned as a possibility in the same article.  Nils Petersen could still be in the frame, but he's going to need to improve his game dramatically in the next few weeks if there's any chance he can be the first back-up.  And it wouldn't be a shock to see other names in the mix, too, although it's questionable how many truly elite stars would want to come to Bayern and play back-up to Gomez.  We'll be following these stories all spring, so stay tuned, and e-mail us at bayern.offside@yahoo.com if you have any story tips.

Programming Notes

I know, the new commenting system is displeasing to many.  For reasons I will explain shortly, I have to leave it as it is for a bit and see if it improves and/or we get used to it.  Going back to Disqus may not be an option, but if we really want to, I'll see what I can do.  There's a very complicated back-story here that I'll explain sometime later this week.  For now - I hear your complaints, I'm doing the best I can with moderation, just try to bear with me for a bit.  And I apologize if any comments that were NOT spam got deleted as such. Thanks.