Bayern Munich’s president Uli Hoeness was in no mood to mince words at Munich airport ahead of the team’s departure to Greece. He shut down questions about Thomas Müller’s demotion to the bench this season by accusing the media of attempting to force head coach Niko Kovac’s plan. Hoeness said (AZ, Bild),
Every week the story is continued with you. You’re trying to force the coach [i.e. Kovac] to start him. That’s simply bullshit.
Hoeness said he is not concerned about Müller, even after six consecutive starts on the bench. Hoeness instead accused Bayern’s critics of flipflopping after demanding new signings all summer. He said,
Weeks and months ago, people hounded us to make expensive transfers. Then Coutinho comes and now the word is, “How can they not start Müller?” But it was obvious that if [Coutinho] comes things would be difficult for Müller.
Hoeness also bluntly shot down the option that Müller might play on the wing in the same lineup as Coutinho:
Ach, he can’t do that as well. Everybody knows that. He doesn’t like it either.
The only option for Müller at the moment, ergo, appears to be the bench, at least until Kovac decides to rest Coutinho.
Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic reiterated that the decisions concerning Müller are made in the best interest of the club. He told the press,
The fact of the matter is that it is not about individual players here but about the club. Every player has to subordinate his own personal interests! We would all be well advised to concentrate on ensuring that the team and the club is successful. Everything else is secondary!
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge may have gently chided Kovac for openly calling Müller a backup, but the club appears to view Müller as precisely that — from Hoeness, to Salihamidzic, to Kovac himself. Müller’s primary position is on the 10, but the club has committed itself to Coutinho there.
Bayern’s plan for success this season, it would appear, is for Countinho to integrate and orchestrate Bayern’s offense in a way that they believe Müller cannot. The difference must lie in their distinct styles of play.
At Bayern Munich’s press conference before playing Olympiakos tomorrow in the Champions League group stage, head coach Niko Kovac also addressed the Müller situation but declined to reveal whether Müller might start (Bild):
I understand your questions. Thomas is an important part. He always wants to play! The future will show whether he plays tomorrow or in the coming weeks. But I know what value he has.