In preparation for Saturday's Bundesliga matchday 8 contest against the caboose of the league, Werder Bremen, coach Pep Guardiola and media director Markus Hörwick sat down for the customary press conference with the sports media representatives.
FC Bayern Press Conference, October 17th, 2014
As could be expected, a lot of the questions revolved around the recent news of Thiago's devastating injury, and some of the reporters seemed intent on finding a scapegoat.
Here are the questions and answers (my interjections in italics):
On whether the 2-week long international break was good or bad for the club - The players that stayed trained very well, it was good for resting some players, like Xabi and Lahm, who have played a lot of games in the last few months. The national team players that won are happy, the ones that lost are a little sad, but most importantly, everyone came back healthy.
On the effect of Thiago's injury on the player, the team and the coach - It's very hard, especially for Thiago. It's similar to what has happened to Holger Badstuber or Javier Martinez, being injured for a long time is hard on the player. He fought hard to get back, everyone, from the doctors to the physiotherapists, did everything they could. He has to look forward, and when he is fit, he will be back in the team.
On what the club needs to do to help Thiago - He needs time. He needs to have the time to focus on his goals. I'm sure it will turn out well this time.
On tomorrow's game, first-place team against last-place team - It's 11 against 11, the score is 0:0 starting in the first minute. When the referee starts the game, the positions in the standings don't matter. It's important for us to not only win, but to play better, it's a long, long season.
On why Bremen is having problems - I've analyzed my colleague's (Robin Dutt) tactic, but I don't know why they are having issues. But, it's still early in the season.
On dealing with a major injury, what can a coach do to help a player? - (Pep had to deal with a season-ending injury in 1997-98 at Barcelona) There's nothing you can say. You have to give him time. It's up to the player to fight, fight, fight, and get back as soon as possible, but obviously everybody at the club is here to help him. I am sad for him, I'm sad for all the injured players. Of course, we are a better team with Javi, Badstuber, Basti, Thiago, but we have to accept the situation, adapt, and move forward. Today it's raining, tomorrow will be sunny (that's deep, Pep).
On the mood of the players (Thiago hurt, German national team players losing), are they depressed? - The players aren't depressed, they're very stable. When we win, of course, they are happier, but they know that the next game is in 2 or 3 days. In the end, Germany will be in Euro 2016, as will Spain and the Netherlands, we just need to keep moving forward.
On whether Pep likes the "free-kick spray" - (Being introduced this week in the Bundesliga) I think it's good, especially for the skilled players, that the wall will be the correct distance away.
On whether Thiago came back too soon - 5 months is too soon? Everyone (doctors, physios, trainers) agreed that he was ready, things like this happen in football, there is nothing you can do, he needs to stay mentally strong, and we need to help as needed.
On Franck Ribery returning to practice, available for Saturday? - He has trained well the last two days, had no pain in his patella tendon, that's great news for him and for us, but we will see tomorrow. I will talk to the doctors and physios, he is at the last step, but if he is fit, he could be on the roster.
On whether it was a group decision to have Thiago treated in Barcelona - No, it was a decision between Thiago and me, because we trust the doctor in Spain. The decision was made 4 or 5 months in advance (Pep stresses again that the decision was made 5 months prior, then stares at the reporter, and there is a tense few moments of silence).
On how important Xabi Alonso is to the team - He is important, but he's not more important than any other player. He is a very good player, we are happy that he is here, but he can't win on his own. He plays his role very well, but he needs help and support from the rest of the team. He has very good games when the players in front of him play well, and give him options for passes. We have a roster of outstanding players, but we don't have any player that plays for himself. We have to work together.
On whether Dortmund can overcome the early 10 point deficit, and challenge for the title - (currently in 13th place, with only 7 points from 7 games) You know my views on Dortmund, we have played them many times in my short time here. My opinion of them is very high, great coach, they have been together for a long time, they buy players that they need, I have no doubts that we will have to fight a lot to become German champions. But, I read somewhere that we will be champions in January or February (that gets a laugh).
On the decision to have Thiago see a doctor in Spain - (the journalists will not give up on this, they want Pep to accept the blame, and he shows a little bit of irritation) I am not a doctor, I have to consult with the doctors, but maybe, I don't know, maybe we made a mistake at first. OK, after that was the operation, and we have to take it from there, we must look forward, and not worry about the past. Nobody, not even the doctors, know for sure why it happened. That's football. Everybody did their job well to get Thiago back to being healthy.
On watching the Kurt Landauer film - (report on Kurt Landauer here) No, not yet, isn't that next Wednesday? (It was this Wednesday) No, haven't seen it. It's Markus' fault for not letting me know (he was joking). I know how important Kurt Landauer was for the club, I want to learn more of the club's history, it makes me love this club more. The more I know about this club, the better it is for me.
On going to see the Pope - (reported here) I used to live in Rome, my family went to the Vatican, but it's the first time for me, I'm looking forward to it.
Disclaimer - Due to the nature of having a coach whose native language is not German, the translation of the quotes is not exactly word for word, but includes some interpretation on the part of the author of this article, in order to more accurately portray what the coach is intending to say. There is some necessary guesswork involved.