After allowing Manchester City off the mat, in a disappointing last-minute loss in the Champions League, Bayern Munich is preparing for a trip to the nation's capital to face Hertha BSC Berlin. Pep Guardiola and media director Markus Hörwick sat down for the customary press conference with the sports media representatives.
FC Bayern Press Conference, November 28th, 2014
An apparent technical glitch when the electronic invitation for the press conference went out caused a very low turnout for the journalists this morning, for which Markus Hörwick apologized.
Here are the questions and answers (my interjections in italics):
On how the mood is after a rare loss - (there haven't been too many of those) The mood is good. We lost, but as I said during the post-game press conference, I was very proud of my team, and I'm still proud. We did very well with 10 players, sure, we made mistakes, but that's part of the game.
On all 5 German teams losing to their English opponents this week - (in addition to Bayern's loss to Man City, Leverkusen, Dortmund and Schalke lost in the CL, while Wolfsburg lost to Everton in the Europa League. Only Gladbach didn't lose, but they tied against Spanish side Villareal) Last time, all the German teams won. We weren't the greatest last week, we aren't the worst now. It's tough in Europe, it was tough last week, it was tough this week.
On how strong Hertha Berlin is - They are a very intense team, very aggressive, they switched strikers from Ramos to former Chelsea player Kalou. They have the same coach for the last 2 or 3 seasons, they know each other very well. We have 3 weeks before the winter break, before having 43 days off, we have a problem with our roster, we can't rotate as much. These 3 weeks, we have a game every 3 days, and we will have to wait for our regeneration over Christmas.
On the problems with the roster, and whether there will be new players - We have a lot of injuries, but I've said before that we have a great roster. I don't think we will do anything (that's slightly less absolute than last week).
On whether Pep thinks the Bundesliga is boring, because Bayern is so far ahead - No, why is it boring? We are a good team, but we're not a perfect team. We can always improve, and the people who are saying it's boring also have to say that we always have to fight hard, they can't forget that. Maybe those people are thinking, because we're Bayern Munich, we have good players, that's enough. That's not enough. We always have to fight, we saw that against Hoffenheim, in every game we run a lot, and we implement our tactics very well. Always winning is very hard, but this team has done that for the last 3 years. It's the end of November, and there are many things that still need to be improved.
On expending a lot of energy in Manchester, playing with 10 men, are Thomas Müller and Mario Götze going to start, since they're rested - (Pep misunderstood the question, thinks the reporter is asking about why those two players didn't start) I trust all of the players, every single one. I made a decision for the Manchester game. I know what it will be like if we have everyone healthy for the Rückrunde, every press conference will be about the players that didn't play. I know this situation from my last job, and also here. It was my decision, I wanted some more midfielders, that's why Pierre (Hojbjerg) and Sebastian (Rode) started.
On whether Müller and Götze are rested and will play - (Back to the original question, but he ends up rambling anyway) That's not the problem, we have 4 days of rest. Our problem is that for the next two months, we only have two outside backs. Philipp (Lahm) and David (Alaba) are out. If Juan (Bernat) has an issue, we have a problem, because those guys are out for a long time. It's ok now, but in January, we have games every 3 days, we'll have to see what the situation is. But, I prefer 16 or 17 players, and I'll tell them, let's go, guys, over having 18,19,20 players, and 4 or 5 of them don't care. I prefer a smaller roster, like we have now. My mood with this team is maybe the best it has been since I've been at Bayern. It's not easy to play for 70 minutes with only 10 players. Our mistakes were turnovers. It's ok to play the long ball, but with 10 players, if you play the long ball, it's coming right back. We controlled the game very well, only allowing a shot by Navas and one by Lampard, it's a shame, I was upset for the players, because they fought hard, played very well defensively, played with a lot of personality. I am very, very proud of my team, they played with a lot of courage.
On why Pep seemingly plays with different tactics every game, instead of sticking to one setup - The reason is that I have to adapt to the qualities of the players. If I have 5 forwards, I can't play 4-3-3, so I adjust based on the players I want on the field, and most of all, it depends on the opponent. We have to change our lineup, but the idea behind it is the same. If I play 4-3-3, or 4-4-2, or 4-4-1-1, or whatever, that's not that important. The important part is the idea, do we press, or do we hang back, or do we play more direct today, and the general idea is the same, it doesn't change. It's always going forward, playing well, creating chances.
On whether changing between 3-man and 4-man backline is too much for the players - They've been to school, they're intelligent players, they can handle it. Every time we play a certain way, I explain the reason for it. They always know why I have made a decision, always. My task is to convince them that what we're doing in a certain game is the best way to go.
On the lack of playing time for Mitchell Weiser - It's my decision. When I think it makes sense, he plays with the reserves. But he is a great guy, a good kid, always trains hard, never complains, and, of course, he is an option for our right back position (didn't you just say you don't have any outside backs other than Bernat and Rafinha?).
On whether Weiser is ready to play Bundesliga - Of course, every player currently on Bayern's roster can play Bundesliga.
On whether Pierre Emile Hojbjerg and Xherdan Shaqiri have talked to Pep about switching clubs - The communication to them is good, I know their opinions, but we have 3 weeks before the winter break, if a player is not happy, they have to talk to Matthias Sammer. My door is always open, but they haven't said anything to me yet. I've heard the rumors in the papers, but they haven't told me. A lot of times, this goes through their agents, but I'm always available. I've already said, a footballer's career is short, if they're not happy, then we need to find a solution. I have no problems working with them, I am very satisfied with them.
On whether he's talked to Hojbjerg's agent - Agents talk to Matthias, they don't talk to me. I talk to the players, never to the agents. If they have a problem, they talk to Matthias.
On who he would vote for for Ballon d'Or - Every year, this subject gets a little boring. For 3 months, people talk about this. Of course, the players from Bayern Munich deserve this award, no doubt. If you win the World Cup, it's a huge advantage, but Messi and Cristiano are big favorites, because of their talent. But I've seen first-hand what the Bayern players can do, and the world has seen what they did in Brazil.
On how important it is to work at a financially strong club like Bayern - (Bayern Munich held their annual members meeting, at which the club announced another record fiscal year) It's good for the club, not for the coach. The stability is fascinating, amazing. The fans should be proud of this club. I think the roster is very good, I don't think we need a lot of players in the future. I don't know what will happen in the future, but it's good to have that stability.
On which job is more tiring, Bayern or Barcelona - It's almost the same. You have to win every game. Here it's a little quieter. In Barcelona, there's a lot more radio and TV coverage. Here, I talk about football the day before the game, on game day, and after the game. In Italy and in Spain it's a little more intense. One big difference is the winter break, it's very good for everyone, the coach, the players, and the fans as well. Other than that, they're both big clubs, win, win, win.
On goal line technology - (the BL is voting on it again next week) In the end, we need systems for making less mistakes. If we have more referees and more technology, that's good for me. The fairer the game, the better. (Markus Hörwick elaborates that Bayern is the club asking for another vote, so the club's opinion on the technology is clear).
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.