Tactics or mentality? Where one ends and the other begins is often difficult to discern, but Bayern Munich captain Manuel Neuer and head coach Niko Kovac both laid the blame for Bayern’s dismal performance against VfL Bochum squarely on the attitude of the players on the pitch.
Neuer seems to be losing his patience with his teammates. The goakeeper’s wrathful outburst in Bayern’s most recent home game against Union Berlin raised eyebrows and drew comparisons to Oliver Kahn (AZ). After the game in Bochum, he spared no criticism. He said,
It was definitely not good. In the end, you noticed the will, but not at the beginning. We have to blame ourselves. It was not what you can expect away in a Pokal game against a team from the 2.Liga. That was much too little. A disappointment from us.
“We have to think about how we present ourselves,” the captain said. He elaborated:
In the first half, it was really sad and disappointing how we acted and played. I don’t know what the reason is. Whether we just don’t have our head in the game or simply don’t want to advance to the next round. That’s what it looked like, anyway.
Neuer said his teammates have no excuses, but have to ask themselves whether they can look in the mirror:
What’s important is that everyone starts with himself. We don’t need to talk about individual players or the formation or the coach. Not go looking for excuses — sun, pitch, floodlights, wind. Everyone has to start with himself. It’s simply important for us professionals that everyone ask himself whether he can look in the mirror.
Kovac baffled by Bayern’s lazy passing, praises Müller and Coutinho
Coach Kovac was also very disappointed by the team’s performance. He was especially struck by the high number of passing errors that the team allowed in the first half.
The misplaced passes is a mystery to me. After 40 seconds, we have a massive chance for Bochum — again, it could have already been 1-0. In my opinion, the fact we are misplacing so many passes has something to do with attitude. I have to go into the game, concentrate, receive every ball cleanly and bring it to my teammate cleanly.
You have to play soccer cleanly. It has nothing to do with tactics; it has to do with attitude. There were too many players who misplaced passes. I said at halftime the first have was only misplaced passes. You won’t come into a flow that way. You can’t put the opponent under pressure that way, you can’t position yourself dominantly in the game that way.
Fortunately for Bayern, Kovac felt that Philippe Coutinho and Thomas Müller settled the team down and secured the victory — Müller notably scoring the winner:
With the two substitution, we got the game under control, because Thomas and Philippe did that very well.
Now Bayern has to prepare for a serious contest away against Eintracht Frankfurt, Kovac’s former team. Kovac said, controversially,
It’ll be a fierce game. Those are the best fans in the league. That’s a team that will go full throttle from the first minute. We have to confront them and act, not react.
Some fans in the Südkurve obviously have mixed feelings about that comment (Sport1), but Eintracht’s intense fan culture is well-known, and the Commerzbank-Arena (aka the Waldstadion) is widely regarded as the loudest in Germany.