Two more meaningless games for Bayern Munich, and the season will be over. Well, meaningless to the defending and current champions, who already clinched their third straight domestic title weeks ago, but SC Freiburg and the other teams in the relegation zone have other ideas about the importance of these matches, as they are all fighting to stay in the top flight of German football.
Pep Guardiola and media director Markus Hörwick sat down for the customary press conference with the sports media representatives.
FC Bayern Press Conference, May 15th, 2015
Interest from the sports media was understandably low, but it prompted Bayern's media director to point out how empty the press conference room was today.
Here are the highlights of today's questions and answers (my interjections in italics):
On whether FC Bayern will take the (for them) meaningless game seriously - We always take games seriously. Sure, when we already clinched the Bundesliga, and we had a very small roster due to injuries, we rotated a little against Leverkusen and Augsburg. It wasn't our strongest lineup, but we always want to win.
On the current injury situation - Manu [Manuel Neuer] has a bit of an ankle problem, but I don't know what the status is, and Sebastian Rode has a slight problem too, but everyone else is fine. We'll see in today's final practice.
On what Mario Götze's problem is - Mario helped us a lot this season. He has the fifth most minutes played on the team. He's a young player, great talent, super professional, he's a Bayern Munich player. He didn't play because it was my decision (Pep seems a little irritated with these types of questions). I am planning on him next season. Manuel Neuer played more minutes, Juan Bernat played more because David Alaba was injured for three or four months, Thomas Müller, and, I think, Robert Lewandowski, and Mario was fifth.
On the discussions about whether Mario Götze will stay at Bayern - It's not a discussion, it's an opinion. We [FC Bayern] are not discussing Mario.
On which players Pep wants, or which positions need help for next season - Right now, we only care about how we play the next two games (away at Freiburg this weekend, and at home against Mainz next Saturday). I know people want to discuss this subject, but it's a private topic right now. The club knows my opinion, I still need to talk to the club, but not here. (The reporter tries again to get Pep to reveal what positions need help) The club knows. ("Can you tell us", asks the reporter) No!
On openly discussing Thiago's transfer last season - That was a different situation. We were already in talks with Thiago and Barcelona, everyone knew about it. But I didn't say anything about Thiago in Trentino (during their pre-season training camp in Northern Italy), which is why none of the reporters knew anything about him then. The club knows my opinion, and Kalle Rummenigge, Matthias Sammer and Michael Reschke also have their opinions. At this club, the coach doesn't get to decide on his own, we will get together and come to a decision.
On whether they're thinking about a lot of new players, or just a few - (The reporters just don't want to let this one go) Our roster is good. Our problem was that we had ten surgeries and a lot of injuries, but when we have everyone available, the roster is very, very good.
On Matthias Sammer's statement that the club doesn't just buy players that the coach asks for -(Sammer made a statement in a TV interview with ZDF, saying that Pep didn't have the final say in who the club gets. Neither Pep nor Markus Hörwick seem to know about Sammer's statement) I already told him (the reporter), we all make the decision together.
On when Pep is planning to sit down with his bosses and discuss an extension - (this question gets repeated multiple times, in every possible form, and the answer remains the same) After the end of the season. I will be here next season, if the club wants me to be, I have a contract. This is a subject that I will discuss with the club, not here.
On whether Pep is ready for a rebuild - I already said, our roster is very, very good, but when you have five or six players out for multiple months with injuries, not just minor ones, it's tough. From the very beginning, we lost Javier Martinez for eight months. He can play three different positions (you heard it here first, Pep is not necessarily planning to use Javi only as a CB). We lost David Alaba twice, and this team is different when he plays, because he can play four different positions (ok, we all knew that). We didn't need more players, it was just an unusual situation. Us coaches are very proud of how the team handled the circumstances.
On who replaces Manuel Neuer, if he can't play - Maybe Ivan Lucic (20-year old backup keeper on the Bayern reserves, but has been splitting duties for the last eight games with Leopold Zingerle) can play. I don't think Tom Starke is ready (the veteran returned to practice last week after an injury).
On when preparations for next season will start - July 1, and the national team players a little later (due to some friendlies in June). First week in July, but we will sit down tonight or tomorrow with the club and discuss the plan.
On what factors will decide on whether Pep signs an extension - I know this club now, I know the team, I am very happy here. It's a big club, and everyone here has helped me a lot from the very beginning, and they helped my family, who are also very happy here. The only unfortunate thing is that we haven't had the full roster in these two seasons, so we have a lot of "what-ifs" about what could have been.
On Sebastian Rode, and whether he will succeed players like Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm - (Pep gives the reporter a "slow down" palm gesture) You mentioned two very big names. Sebastian is a young player, and I didn't know him very well, because Bayern bought him while I was on vacation, but I am pleasantly surprised, by his attitude. I said two weeks ago, he's staying here, he's an important player. We just have to take care of him, because if he plays two games in a row, he has some minor problems (didn't seem to affect him in Frankfurt, when he played all the time).
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.