It was a long time of waiting while he recovered from his serious leg injury sustained last winter, but Manuel Neuer is fit and firing in goal for Bayern Munich. The club captain caused the club a headache going into the winter transfer window last year, as they scrambled to eventually sign Yann Sommer from Borussia Mönchengladbach to fill in for the rest of the season for him. Mind you, the situation was contrived via Neuer getting hurt on a ski trip taken after his World Cup excursions in Qatar with the German national team.
Fast forward to this season with Sommer having left in the summer for Inter Milan and Sven Ulreich was the starting goalkeeper for the majority of the season with the club having signed Daniel Peretz from Maccabi Tel Aviv in the summer to serve as Ulreich’s backup. It was not until Bayern’s 8-0 win over Darmstadt in the Bundesliga that Neuer marked his return to action, meaning that Ulreich started in all but Bayern’s first round DFB-Pokal win over SC Preußen Münster, amassing 3 clean sheets in the process and an overall record of 9 wins, 2 draws, and 0 losses.
Ulreich was always understanding of the fact that he would be relegated back to being the backup keeper for the club once Neuer returned, though, as he recently explained to Bayern’s club magazine Säbener51 (via @iMiaSanMia).
“When you’re so involved in games, when things are going well, it’s obviously not easy at first to sit back on the bench. But I know what my job is here at FC Bayern. And I was really happy when Manu was back. I always knew that I would help him in training to have a good comeback. We work as a team,” Ulreich explained to the club magazine.
For him, there were certainly options last summer to leave the club on a permanent basis, or perhaps even go out on loan again, but he was happy to stay at the club and see out the remainder of his contract — a contract that has since been extended.
Training alongside Neuer and having that ever-present competition is also something that Ulreich sees a positive; something that helps himself grow as a player and as a person. “Competition is part of the job, it’s essential in order to make it far in sports. But knowing your place in a team is also crucial. We have a clear hierarchy, Manu is number one. But he knows that he has to give 100% in every training session because Daniel Peretz and I. He also needs that to reach his maximum. The relationship between Manu and I goes beyond collegiality. We have become friends over the many years we have shared. And that is also important for me because I have to feel good in order to be able to perform,” he explained.