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The ripple effect of Manuel Neuer’s injury

The captain’s injury affects more than just his backup

Photo by Johannes Simon/Bongarts/Getty Images

Manuel Neuer’s long term injury undoubtedly makes the job for FC Bayern Munich much more difficult, as it would for most teams that lose their number one goalkeeper. He is considered by many the best keeper in the world, so his absence is going to hurt, especially in the Champions League. But the ripple effect of this layoff will be felt by more than just Sven Ulreich, his backup who is now in charge of Bayern’s penalty box, or the club medical staff, who are under scrutiny after this latest fiasco.

Ulreich gets his big chance to shine

After only getting seven starts in all of last season, Ulreich asked for, and received, permission to find a new club during the offseason. Even though he knew what he was getting into when he signed on as a backup to the undisputed starter, the former Stuttgart starter felt he wanted to get more playing time again. But an offseason injury hampered his search, and he ended up having to stay in Munich. Now, he gets a three month showcase to convince clubs that he can be a number one in the Bundesliga, or beyond.

Christian Früchtl forced to skip the U17 World Cup

The 17-year old phenom, who was given a professional contract prior to this season and elevated to the number three spot in the goal keeping hierarchy, is now the number two. That means that he will be on the bench for every remaining game in 2017 as the backup, and probably won’t be playing in the UEFA Youth League — with the U19 team — which runs parallel to the Champions League competition.

However, more importantly, he is going to miss the U17 World Cup, which is scheduled to be played in India in October. He was slated to be the starter, but, after discussions between the DFB and Bayern, the decision was made that he was needed at the club. It’s an unfortunate circumstance, because a major tournament like this would have been an invaluable experience for the kid, and would have advanced his career considerably.

Tom Starke signals that he’s ready if he’s needed

Even though the former backup and current Bayern youth coach officially retired from his professional career at the end of last season, he has indicated in an interview on Bundesliga bei Amazon Music (via AZ) — don’t ask what Bundesliga has to do with music — that he is willing to help out, just like he did during the summer Asian tour, when he jumped in when Neuer, Ulreich and Früchtl were all incapacitated.

“There are only these two options: Either I come back, or we push someone through from the youth teams” said Starke, but he made clear that this course of action isn’t his ideal choice. “I have a great job on the new Campus, that I enjoy immensely. I don’t need to, nor am I totally eager, to come back.” But, if needed, he is available.

Contingency plans for Bayern

Since the transfer window is closed until the winter break, there is not much else Bayern can do. This is the exact reason they signed Ulreich, in case of a long-term injury to Neuer, and they obviously feel that Früchtl would be capable of spelling the others.

But, what happens if Manuel Neuer’s recovery gets delayed, as it did following the injury he picked up in April? Is Bayern’s management really ready to roll the dice in January, and finish the season with Ulreich and a 17-year old kid as their main goalies, with Champions League knockout matches looming? The smart money is that they will scout potential signings, just in case, and bring in an established name to fill the gap in the January window. Who that could be is anyone’s guess. Is Pepe Reina still available?

UPDATE: Tom Starke indeed is back

The veteran keeper trained with the team today (Thursday) and will be on the roster as third keeper on Friday when Bayern hosts Wolfsburg.

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