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Mid-80s generation 'keeps on improving'

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Mid-80s generation 'keeps on improving'

Postby FCBayernNews » Wed Jan 07, 2009 9:00 pm

If you were hoping to track down Philipp Lahm or Andreas Ottl, simply head for the table-tennis room, where the FCB pair spend practically every minute of their sparse free time in Dubai, battling each other for supremacy or taking on Christian Nerlinger and Phlipp Laux at doubles. Just a few yards away, you'll find Michael Rensing playing pool, while Christian Lell and Bastian Schweinsteiger are never far from one of the two available tables.

Lahm (born in 1983), Ottl (1985), Rensing (1984), Schweinsteiger (1984) and Lell (1984) share more than just a similar taste in leisure pursuits. "We get on really well, we do lots of things together, and we sometimes see more of each other than we do our wives and girlfriends," reports Rensing. The quintet are all to a greater or lesser degree home-grown Bayern youth products, winning the German U-19 championship together in 2002, and moving on as a group to the FCB senior squad.

Hoeneß's praise for youth section

"Some generations are especially good and keep on improving," Uli Hoeneß explained to, praising the club's top-quality youth section: "We have highly professional coaches and a very professional environment. And in Hermann Gerland, we have a reserve team coach who continues to develop our best youngsters, preparing the way for them to make it into the senior squad. It's a well-functioning system."testHowever, to see five players of almost exactly the same age - and with the exception of Rensing, all of them born in Munich and environs - achieve established status at a top club like Bayern is "certainly out of the ordinary," Rensing opines. "I'm not sure that happens very often at the highest level, which is where Bayern definitely are," Oliver Kahn's successor muses.

Parallels with United?

Indeed, comparable collections of similarly-aged youth academy graduates at the top end of European football are few and far between, especially since the Bosman verdict in 1995. Around the millennium, a certain David Beckham (born in 1975) starred alongside the Neville brothers Gary (1975) and Phil (1977), Nicky Butt (1975) and Paul Scholes (1974) for Manchester United. All won trophies galore for the club they joined as youths, the crowning glory arriving in 1999 with the dramatic Champions League triumph in Barcelona at Bayern's expense.

A similar situation last applied in Munich in the mid-1990s, when a team incorporating Markus Babbel (1972), Christian Ziege (1972), Dieter Frey (1972), Dietmar Hamann (1973) and current team manager Christian Nerliner (1973) won the UEFA Cup. Again, most of the quintet are local boys who graduated from the club's youth ranks.

Perpetual balancing act

"It's often hard at the start for younger players, so you have to be patient. And patience is often in short supply these days," Hoeneß reflects. "On the one hand, you want to give youth a chance. On the other hand, we have to win every weekend. That's why it's a permanent balancing act." With the current generation, it is a balancing act Bayern are managing to outstanding effect at the present time.
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