Former Bayern Munich and Germany midfielder Lothar Matthäus says that Carlo Ancelotti is responsible for Thomas Muller’s steady decline in the pecking order at the club. Despite being in the starting eleven for Bayern’s season opener against Bayer Leverkusen, Müller was relegated to a spot on the bench for Saturday’s 2-0 win over Werder Bremen, coming on as a substitute in the 73rd minute for Franck Ribery - Ancelotti preferred the likes of Ribery and Arjen Robben on the flanks behind Robert Lewandowski, while Arturo Vidal, Thiago Alcantara, and Corentin Tolisso anchored the central midfield roles.
Speaking in a post match interview with ARD-Horfunk (via Goal.com) on Saturday after the win over Bremen, Müller struck a slightly melodramatic tone when asked about his omission from the starting eleven:
I don't know exactly which qualities the coach wants to see, but mine seem not to be 100 percent in demand.
Matthäus has since come out and suggested that Ancelotti’s team selections are dictated far too heavily by precise, specific positions, and that Müller possesses a versatility in his game that doesn’t give him a concrete role, per se. Speaking to kicker (via Goal.com), Matthäus voiced his concerns for Müller:
Thomas Müller is first choice for the national team but he's having a hard time at Bayern. He's selected less often in the important games in Munich and I am skeptical that this will improve this year. This has nothing to do with Müller. He needs a coach who wants him in his team, then Muller will not disappoint. Müller isn't a No. 7, a No. 9 nor a No. 10. He is everything and in between. But Carlo Ancelotti thinks and selects his team very strictly according to a player's position.
Despite recording his worst goal scoring tally in a Bayern shirt last season (five league goals), Müller tallied 12 assists - a mark that was joint second best in the Bundesliga alongside Ousmane Dembele (formerly of Borussia Dortmund). He's remained an integral part of the squad with his relentless work rate and ability to create chances, even when Ancelotti's played him out of position.
Matthäus' skepticism for Müller's fortunes moving forward under Ancelotti will also bear more weight once James Rodriguez returns from injury and is available for selection. It's likely that James will be utilized most often as a wide, or central attacking midfielder, putting Müller's place in the starting eleven in even more jeopardy.