We must do better, say Bayern bosses
6 January 2004
MUNICH – Bayern Munich club bosses have called for more effort and better performances from their players for the second half of the season as they attempt to defend their league and cup double and take on Real Madrid in the Champions League.
“Our football has to be a lot more solid, and for this we’ll have to work hard,” chairman of the board Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.
Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld welcomed his squad back to training after the Christmas holiday period with an appeal to his players to do more for team spirit.
“Here is where our foreign players will have to contribute more,” he said, specifically naming French defender Bixente Lizarazu and Peruvian striker Claudio Pizarro.
Hitzfeld said he also wanted Roy Makaay better integrated into the Bayern playing system, and for the Dutch striker to join captain Oliver Kahn and Michael Ballack as key personalities in the squad.
Hitzfeld is reported to be coming under increasing pressure from the board to produce a more attractive side after criticism of both the Bayern’s playing style and the fitness of some players.
The squad leaves Friday for a training camp in the United Arab Emirates ahead of the resumption of the Bundesliga on 31 January.
The club’s triumvirate of Rummenigge, Franz Beckenbauer and general manager Uli Hoeness are accompanying the team, reportedly to monitor the way the players are training. Hoeness and Rummenigge have forecast “Bayern’s hardest training camp ever”.
Rummenigge told Kicker sports magazine Monday: “A coach also has to question whether he has to change something. This starts with the daily work and ends with the final objective.”
But Hitzfeld said he was not planning on changing the way he trained the players, saying: “I always train for the team to be successful. Preparing the players is one of my specialities.”
Hitzfeld, who had been linked in England as a possible future coach of the England national side, has confirmed receiving inquiries from English clubs but said he intended to complete his contract with Bayern until 2005, press reports said.
The coach forecast a four-way battle for the league title between Bayern, currently second, league leaders Werder Bremen, VfB Stuttgart and Bayer Leverkusen.
“We are in a good position despite the four points deficit on Bremen,” said Hitzfeld.
Rummenigge told Kicker: “Our dream is the league championship – and to beat Real. Both will be incredibly difficult to achieve.”
Bayern come up against Real Madrid in Munich on February 24 in the first leg of the first knock-out round of the Champions League.
“Bremen are looking very solid. And Madrid is the greatest challenge awaiting us in 2004. We will do everything we can to beat them,” Rummenigge added.
Meanwhile Bayern have been boosted by the return of midfielder Mehmet Scholl and striker Alexander Zickler to the squad for training after injury lay-offs.
Sebastian Deisler is continuing to receive treatment for depression, but Hitzfeld said he was confident the midfielder – who celebrated his 24th birthday on Monday – would be able to play again this season.
Ghanaian international defender Samuel Kuffour was given permission to start training late to enable him to participate in a memorial service for his one-year-old daughter, Godiva who drowned on 3 January last year in a swimming pool in the family home in Accra.
Subject: German news