This has been an eventful week for FC Bayern Munich which is seriously understating the situation. Following the spectacular 3-1 loss to FC Porto in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday, an unexpected announcement on Thursday that Dr. Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt, sports medicine practitioner to the sports stars, and his entire medical staff were resigning their position's -- due to an accusation that he was responsible for the loss to Porto -- rocked the Bayern world.
Considering that Müller-Wohlfahrt had been at Bayern for almost four decades, and had close personal relationships with many of the club brass, this news was a bombshell. Pep Guardiola and media director Markus Hörwick sat down for the customary press conference with the sports media representatives, who packed the press room as if it was the day before the Champions League final.
FC Bayern Press Conference, April 17th, 2015
For anyone expecting a clarification of what happened in regards to the medical staff's resignation, they would be sorely disappointed. After a brief statement from Hörwick about the situation, in which he expressed deep regret for the turn of events, thanking the doctor for his years of service, and the announcement that the current full-time doctor of the Bayern reserves, Dr. Volker Braun, would take over responsibilities for the rest of the season, the media director pre-empted any further questions (except for one), and asked that everyone concentrate on the sporting issues facing Bayern in the coming days.
Here are the highlights of today's questions and answers (my interjections in italics):
On Pep's reaction to Müller-Wohlfahrt's resignation - It was his personal decision. I have great respect for him, and I can only respect his decision. That is all.
On how the players are reacting to the recent loss - These players are my heros. I am happy to be their coach. Over the last month or six weeks, they've been playing a lot of minutes, playing a lot of games, and when they have to be there, they are, regardless of whether we win or lose. We have a chance to take another step to defending our Bundesliga title, and ten days from now, a chance to get into another final against Dortmund (DFB Pokal semifinal at home), and a huge challenge against Porto on Tuesday. It was the correct decision for me to come here and train these players (that came out of the blue). They've done an outstanding job with what has happened here. Over the last two years, we've had 13 surgeries, in addition to all the muscular issues, and we've won two championships and two DFB Pokal trophies, and did well in the Champions League too. They reacted well after going down 0-2 in the first ten minutes against Porto, other teams would have given up. Of course, a 3-1 deficit is not easy, but with these guys, we will try on Tuesday.
On whether it's tougher now to reach the stated goals, with the injuries and the other situation - No, it's the same as before. We've had similar problems in the past, we can't complain. We lost in Porto with the players we have, not the players we don't have, but I am responsible, just like I was responsible for Madrid last season. The person responsible is Pep.
On the 14 available players not being able to continue playing that much - And that's why they're my heroes. In a perfect situation, we have a full roster, we can rotate, we can try different tactics. In the CL, the other teams we're playing against have their full complement of players, we don't, but it doesn't help to lament. With all our players, we are a stronger team. Imagine the other teams without their top players (like, say, Real Madrid without Ronaldo, Bale, Kroos, Modric, Ramos).
On having the second team play in Hoffenheim - (Looking a little annoyed) The second team plays under Erik ten Hag. Everyone who is on the roster here is the first team. We have a ten point lead, so, of course, other players get to play. But the players that play tomorrow, and have to play against Porto, and Dortmund and Leverkusen, there's no complaining. If we lose, we lose. Against Porto, we have to defend better, be calm, be strong mentally. We can't do what we did against Madrid, where we allowed two or three goals in the first 20 minutes. But I want to go to battle with these players. But, if we lose, it's my responsibility, boys, it's always the coach's responsibility. And if a player gets injured, that's not the doctor's fault. Injuries happen, and the doctors and physios try to get them back as quickly as possible. But I don't have time to complain.
On Mario Götze's and Xabi Alonso's status - (Both players took knocks in the Porto game, and were subbed off) I think they're both fit. The problem is, Philipp Lahm isn't available tomorrow, he has (Pep turns to Hörwick and looks for help, says "Diarrhea?", while waving his hands around the lower torso, Hörwick says "stomach/intestinal", then Pep makes the universal gesture for throwing up, while Hörwick finishes with "infection". Thanks for the visuals, Pep) I hope he can be back next week. Mario took a knock in the first half, Xabi took one in the second, but they should be able to train today.
On whether a new team doctor can just take over - No, no... (Hörwick interrupts before Pep can say more, and answers) We will find a solution, let's leave it at that.
On whether Franck Ribery will travel to Hoffenheim - No, I don't think so. He's injured.
On whether recent events have changed Pep's plans at FC Bayern - No (emphatically). I am very happy with the players here, and, more than ever, I want to go to battle with these players. I want to be here next year.
On whether there will be more players on the roster next season, considering that Pierre Emile Hojbjerg and Xherdan Shaqiri were allowed to leave - Let me tell you something. Before the Donetsk game, we had everyone healthy, except for Javier Martinez. I was thinking, with Lahm and Thiago coming back, now we can battle with the most important clubs in Europe, against [Real] Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, PSG, we are ready. That wasn't that long ago. At that time, Pierre and Shaqiri wanted to leave, and I don't like keeping players that don't want to stay. Three or four days later, we had three or four players injured. And who is responsible? Nobody. That's life, that's football.
On the video of Pep clapping his hands at the bench right after Mehdi Benatia was injured in Leverkusen - In the end, Benatia's injury was not the fault of Dr. Müller-Wohlfahrt, that happens when a player plays every three days. He's been hurt on and off, and it was my personal disappointment, because we need Benatia.
On whether Bastian Schweinsteiger will play in Hoffenheim - I don't think so. He spent eight days in bed (Bastian returned to running today, according to reports, but won't be ready for Saturday).
On who is responsible for the Porto, Pep or Müller-Wohlfahrt - (Markus Hörwick is not amused, and answers for Pep) Thank you, but we are done with this subject.
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.