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'I'm a listener, and I've done a lot of listening'

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'I'm a listener, and I've done a lot of listening'

Postby FCBayernNews » Mon Jan 12, 2009 7:30 pm

In part 2 of a major interview, Jürgen Klinsmann takes a detailed look back over his first six months at the FCB helm. Why did he briefly drop captain Mark van Bommel to the bench? What is his relationship with Uli Hoeneß? And what does he feel about the situation regarding Lukas Podolski? The former world-class striker tells all, revealing he is "hungry for a trophy or two this season."

Jürgen Klinsmann interview, part 2 Jürgen, as Bayern coach you come under intense media scrutiny. Do you think your new training methods attracted too much scepticism?
Klinsmann: "There was a lot of speculation before I started, because nobody really knew what was coming. What I did with the national team was totally different compared to Bayern, but people still made comparisons and said: Klinsmann's going to do exactly the same thing. But they were completely wrong. At some point I just decided to stop justifying myself. People will soon see what I'm really about, I thought." You named Mark van Bommel captain and then briefly benched him, causing a stir in the media.
Klinsmann: "When you have such a serious decision to make, you don't worry how it will come across in the media. I just asked myself: what are we trying to achieve here? Mark was made captain, and we rightly placed a lot of faith in him, because he holds the dressing room together and he's the most communicative. However, his performance is continually being assessed. Maybe he thought he was an automatic pick, or he didn't realise his performance levels had dropped - whatever, I wanted to send out a signal to all the players, that even the captain is judged on performance. I knew the decision would spark a debate, but I was certain that if he was made of the stuff I believed he was, he'd show the right reaction. And that's exactly what happened. He was totally fired up in training, and that made him more solid in matches. His improving fitness also began to pay off. Since then, he's played very well." You've said the players had to acclimatise to change. You must have gone through the same process.
Klinsmann: "After arriving in a new place with certain ideas of your own, you always have to be open to course corrections for the benefit of the club and the team. I've continually been thinking - maybe I went a step too far here, maybe I need to change course and accept a compromise. We've always tried to optimise what we do. A coach always has to be open to change. I reckon after two or three months everyone saw I was capable of that, in the same way that I expect everyone else to be open to change." Has it been exciting watching the changes you've implemented taking effect on the team and the club?
Klinsmann: "The most exciting thing over the last six months is how everyone's realised my sole priority is this football club, helping the team develop and succeed. That's why it's an honour to be Bayern Munich head coach. That's what preoccupies me every day. But I also expect the maximum from the coaching staff and everyone who works with the team, so that at the end of the day, I can go to a player and say: look, we've done all this for you, so it's time you hit the gas." How often have you turned to Uli Hoeneß for advice?
Klinsmann: "Almost every day. I reckon Uli is very well attuned to the chemistry between the coach and his players. I think he's also been fairly relaxed, because he's seen I'm able to adapt to individual situations. Also, I'm not stubborn, I'm a listener, and I've done a lot of listening. He's a great person to talk to, and his long experience with the club is terrific for me." You won practically everything there was to win as a player. Where would your first trophy as a coach fit into your record?
Klinsmann: "It would be tremendous if all our hard work was rewarded with trophies. That's what we're working towards, and I believe trophies will come. However, it's also important to me for the players to grow. It was nice to have my work with the national team confirmed when players came up to me after the World Cup and said: wow, I've really made progress these last two years." Does there have to be silverware for this season to rate as a success?
Klinsmann: "Bayern are accustomed to success, and it's vital to set winning trophies as our target, so we instil that mindset into the players. We definitely boast class in the team, and if one or two individuals come on as we hope, I'm sure we can win the league. And I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens in the Champions League and the Cup. I'm hungry for a trophy or two this season." In terms of player development, you must be very satisfied with Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Klinsmann: "I told Bastian I wanted more consistency and not such extreme highs and lows. He delivered, especially at the start of the season. Philipp has been extraordinary, he's been world-class. He's the best left-back in Europe at the moment, in my opinion. It was very important to get these two lads on long-term contracts, because they're cornerstones of the Bayern team. These are local boys who've come through our own youth system. The fans strongly identify with them. Both have also realised it was time for the next step in their careers, which means taking responsibility. They've risen up the dressing room hierarchy. When they speak, others listen. They're prepared to have a word behind closed doors if need be. My job now is to keep pushing them, so they continue to grow into leadership roles." Turning to Lukas Podolski, he's another player you've supported and pushed from your Germany days onwards.
Klinsmann: "It hurts inside when you see such a very special talent who's treading water and not making progress, because he can't cope with the situation of having two players ahead of him in the pecking order. I'd hoped he'd get angry, let out his frustration on the field of play, saying to himself: I'll show them once and for all. Bayern is an either/or kind of club. Either a player accepts the challenge and says: I'll fight my way into the team at some point, the approach taken by Tim Borowski, Hamit Altintop, Daniel van Buyten and Andreas Ottl, among others." Or?
Klinsmann: "Or it's probably better to go for a change of environment. I don't think he's the kind of guy who relishes challenging the players ahead of him in the queue. He needs an environment which gives him the feeling he's first-choice. But I do understand his point of view, I can see where he's coming from." Do you have good days and bad days at work?
Klinsmann: "I basically always look forward to work, although I guess I have the same mood swings as any other employee. The worst time for me was in September, October, when I was struggling with a slipped disc. It was really painful and it wore me out. I had a real surge in energy once I was over that." With your heavy workload, have you had any time at all to get out and about in Munich and the surrounding region?
Klinsmann: "I spent two years here as a player, but basically never had the chance to get out to the mountains and the lakes. I was always on the road, with Bayern and the national team. I can catch up on all of that now, and I think I've seen more in the last six months than in two years as a player. We feel really good here as a family." And can the family imagine settling in Munich for a while?
Klinsmann: "Yes, definitely. If everything works out, I would happily consider working with Bayern over the long term."
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