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Hoeness: patience for “team in transition, young coach,” regret over Bernat

Bayern will face Dortmund not as the favorite, but Hoeness stressed his support for Niko Kovac remains unchanged. He also expressed regret for insulting Juan Bernat.

MUNICH, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 03: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE!) Uli Hoeness, President of FC Bayern Muenchen looks on prior to the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Sport-Club Freiburg at Allianz Arena on November 3, 2018 in Munich, Germany. Photo by A. Hassenstein/Getty Images for FC Bayern

In comments to the press after Bayern Munich’s 2-0 victory over AEK Athens on Wednesday night (collected by TZ), club president Uli Hoeness struck a reflective tone, as he discussed the current state of the club ahead of its upcoming away match against table-leaders Borussia Dortmund. Hoeness reiterated his support for head coach Niko Kovac and even expressed regret for insulting former player Juan Bernat at the now infamous press conference he held jointly with chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.

Commitment to Kovac

Hoeness renewed his commitment to stand by coach Kovac. He had declared previously, in the midst of Bayern’s four-game slump, that he would defend Kovac “to the blood” (bis aufs Blut) — roughly “to the bitter end.” Asked whether that promise still held true, Hoeness replied,

That has not changed at all. My statements are valid for more than just two or three weeks.

In a follow-up, Hoeness gave further insight into how the front office may view the current iteration of the team and its coach. He elaborated,

We have a team that is in transition; a young coach who has to find his feet here. You have to have a little patience.

Looking ahead to Dortmund

Noting Dortmund’s impressive form and current standing atop the Bundesliga table, Hoeness openly said that Bayern could survive without winning the Bundesliga this season. Asked what he thought of the fact that Bayern trailed Dortmund by four points, Hoeness said,

Dortmund has been this far away from us these six years now. They can be ahead now for once. I said that we have to measure ourselves and our decisions at the end of the season. We’re not as arrogant as you all believe. We all would like to win the championship. But it if’s not meant to be, FC Bayern won’t collapse.

As for how Bayern are approaching the Klassiker against first-place Dortmund, Hoeness emphasized the need for confidence, even though Bayern is, in his view, not the favorite going into the match:

We have to concentrate on improving our game, on playing confident soccer again. A better game comes with confidence. Dortmund has thus far has a very, very good season. We’re traveling to Dortmund not as the favorite, but as the outsider, for the first time in a long time. We have to see that we play well there and then we’ll see what comes out of it.

Regret over Bernat

Although Hoeness was unapologetic for holding the press conference in which he and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge criticized the German media, he declared that he regrets the way in which he attacked Bernat:

I would hold the press conference again in essentially the same way. The story in Spiegel last weekend has proven that it was urgently necessary. I would not use this or that word that I used there, though. I regretted very much that I insulted Juan Bernat, his playing in one game. I would not do that again.

Bernat notably scored PSG’s only goal in their 1-1 draw against Carlo Ancelotti’s SSC Napoli. Asked whether he had seen it, Hoeness replied,

I did see it and concluded to my great delight that he can still score goals.

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