Christian Nerlinger, Bayern’s general manager since 2010, was replaced last week by Germany and Dortmund legend Matthias Sammer. Despite being in a position that needed guts and authority, Nerlinger was criticized by many for not stamping his authority and for being merely a “yes man” to club president Uli Hoeneß. While the bitter failure of the past two seasons was not directly his fault, someone had to pay the price, so who better than the timid, evasive general manager?
While Nerlinger was definitely not the bold and charismatic leader fans wanted behind the scenes, he certainly did get a few things done. His signings during the summer of 2011 helped resurrect one of Europe’s top clubs after a turbulent 2010/11. Nerlinger’s flurry of signings in 2012 also gave the team the depth that it sorely lacked for the coming season. Below is an evaluation of his signings during the summer of 2011 as well as a preview of his 2012 siginings.
Summer 2011 Signings
Fee: Bayern shelled out €22M for Neuer, a relatively high sum for someone who had one year left on his contract.
Appearances: Neuer started 52 games as Bayern went all the way in all three competitions.
Best Moments: Clean sheet run from August until October, Pokal heroics versus Gladback, Champions League heroics versus Madrid.
Worst Moments: Blunders versus Gladbach in the Bundesliga, turning a comprehensive loss to a thrashing versus Dortmund in the Pokal
Conclusion: Nerlinger’s best signing in that he ended Bayern’s goalkeeper woes with a keeper many regard as the best in Europe. Fighting off interest from Manchester United is also a positive.
Fee: €5.5M after only a year on his conract.
Appearances: Rafinha started out the season as the team’s first choice right back, but ended it on the bench due to David Alaba’s great form as a fullback.
Best Moment: Goal and strong performance in the Champions League opener versus Villareal.
Worst Moment: Not being in position for Basel’s first leg Champions League goal.
Conclusion: A “good enough” signing. After Bayern missed out on the better Fabio Coentrao, Bayern settled for a player who had just finished a mediocre campaign with mid-table Genoa. Why Nerlinger didn’t look for better options after losing out on Coentrao is a mystery.
Fee: €2.8M, a bargain for such a highly rated youngster.
Appearances: Petersen appeared fifteen times last season, scoring four goals in all competitions.
Best Moment: Scoring the winner away at Schalke when Bayern was missing Gómez and Olić.
Worst Moment: Slipping hilariously instead of scoring the winner at the death versus Gladbach.
Conclusion: A smart piece of business in that Nerlinger signed a player that could possibly lead the line for Bayern one day. Signing a star of a second division team to possibly lead the line versus top teams was not a smart choice, however. Nerlinger signed an unproven prospect as a back-up for Gómez, and he failed miserably. It would have been much smarter to sign a proven striker as a back-up and let Petersen develop on loan.
Fee: This was a loan, so no fee was paid.
Appearances: Usami made five appearances in all competitions, scoring once.
Best Moment: Scoring in the Pokal against Ingolstadt.
Worst Moment: Getting subbed ten minutes after coming on versus Wolfsburg.
Conclusion: Some people were expecting this youngster to impress in the Bundesliga at the beginning of his time with Bayern, he turned out to be nothing more than a signing to raise Bayern’s profile in Japan. Unnecessarily took up a place on Bayern’s roster when a proper winger could have been used during the first half of the season.
Fee: €13.5M, almost €10M less than City’s demanded fee
Appearances: Boateng made 48 appearances as a right back and center back for Bayern.
Best Moments: Solid defensive efforts with Van Buyten versus Manchester City and with Badstuber versus Gladbach.
Worst Moments: Opening day blunder with Neuer versus Gladbach, Horror shows in November and May versus Dortmund.
Conclusion: A top signing during Nerlinger’s tenure, although Rummenigge and Hoeneß were surely involved. Signing Bayern’s primary target for defense paid off dividends as Bayern’s defense went from flop to top. Cutting down the asking price substantially also sweetened the deal for the fans, but that was probably down to the actions of Hoeneß and Rummenigge rather than Nerlinger.
Summer 2012 Signings
Role: Depth option for the center of defense, will rotate with Badstuber and Boateng.
Conclusion: Bayern greatly improved the depth in defense with this cheap and proven center back who led one of Europe’s best defenses last season. Decent job by Nerlinger, not much struggle as there was a low buy-out clause.
Fee: Free Transfer
Role: Experienced depth option, will probably be a back-up for Mario Mandžukić and Mario Gómez.
Conclusion: By returning a Bayern favorite who, judging by last season, still has a lot to offer, Nerlinger granted Bayern better depth, at least for the Bundesliga.
Fee: Undisclosed, probably less than €3M
Role: Back-up for Neuer
Conclusion: Smart signing by Nerlinger to back Neuer up with an experienced goalkeeper.
Role: Young understudy for the oft-injured Arjen Robben. “Power Cube” will be expected to get a lot of playing time.
Conclusion: Signing a sought after Swiss international with lots of Champions League experience at only 20 years old for less than 10 million Euros must be one of Bayern’s best bargains in years. If all goes well for the Kosovo native, he can light up the wings in Munich for many years.
Role: Will probably play for the reserve team next season
Conclusion: Considered one of Germany’s top prospects, this Nerlinger signing may very well be part of Bayern’s future, along with Contento, Alaba and Emre Can. Very cheap price too, considering Arsenal paid around 28 times that fee to sign a teenage Theo Walcott from a second division team.
Fee: Around €13M
Role: Quality back-up for Mario Gómez, will probably be ahead of Pizarro in the pecking order
Conclusion: One of Bayern’s quickest signings in a long time, with interested first reported on the 25th of June and the signing on the 28th. Similar to the Rafinha case, Bayern missed out on Dzeko and “settled” for Mandžukić. Nerlinger gets the blame rather unfairly for this signing, as Hoeneß was the one who excited fans by promising a bomb striker. In reality, this signing is much more practical as Mandžukić will not be expecting to start and is not just a poacher.
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