Thomas Müller's status under Bayern Munich's head coach Carlo Ancelotti has again dominated headlines after Müller was benched for Bayern's second game of the season. Müller entered the game against Werder Bremen in the 73rd minute and immediately made his presence felt.
Despite the obvious impact he made on the game, however, Müller expressed his frustration afterwards in unusually candid terms:
I don't know exactly what qualities the coach wants to see. Apparently mine are not 100% in demand.
Müller's frustration only confirms the fears of many observers - namely, that Carlo Ancelotti either does not know what to do with the mercurial forward or simply does not value him.
Support from the national team
Müller's situation has already elicited an outpouring of support from German national coach Jogi Löw and manager Oliver Bierhoff. Löw stated,
He is an incredibly positive factor in our team, a leading player. I know what Thomas Müller always provides for us.
Specifically about his benching Bremen, Löw elaborated that Müller is
essentially confident in his abilities, just as we actually are, too. So this one time he didn't play from the start, fine, but with us he has always put in solid performances, always scored lots of goals.
National team manager Oliver Bierhoff added his voice in support of Müller and directed some pointed remarks at Bayern:
I hope that Bayern is aware of the fact that he is a figure people identify with the club. I wish that they would say as a club, “He has to play.” People come to the stadium for him, he has unbelievable qualities. And precisely as a striker you need some support.
Hoeness and Kimmich speak out
Müller also received some explicit support from within the club. President Uli Hoeness, in an interview with Sport Bild, cited Thomas Müller as precisely a reason why the club did not pursue Paris Saint-Germain's Julian Draxler:
If we had gone after a transfer like Draxler come hell or high water, the same question would have come up as when we signed James: what about Thomas Müller? There's no question that Julian Draxler is a player who would suit Bayern well, but we don't want to give up any of our players. I get a stomach ache even now thinking about when all our players are fit.
Joshua Kimmich also spoke about Müller's importance to both Bayern and the national team.
His attitude is inherently very positive. You all know that he's a funny guy and always has room for a little fun. That's how he is here, too. . . There are other players who would perhaps behave very differently in such a situation. . . He is nevertheless extremely positive and also important for the team, even if he hasn't played.
All eyes will be on Müller as he plays in Germany's upcoming World Cup qualifiers. If his performance for the national team reaches its usual high level, it will only add to the pressure on Ancelotti to integrate Bayern's unorthodox icon into his starting lineup.