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Ribéry: It's going to be a good Christmas

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Ribéry: It's going to be a good Christmas

Postby FCBayernNews » Thu Dec 22, 2011 6:50 pm

Not for the first time this term, Franck Ribéry was in near-unplayable form on Tuesday evening. The Bochum defence put two or even three men on the French winger, but still he ducked and weaved his way to the by-line, contesting a relatively huge 33 challenges in the course of the match. The last of them was in stoppage time, when he breezed past Marcel Maltritz and crossed for Arjen Robben to slot home the winning goal.

It was Ribéry's 11th assist of the campaign, and he has also scored 10 goals in his 25 appearances, making it the best first half of the season in the player's career. "It's going to be a good Christmas with my family," said the 28-year-old, who became a father for the third time in September. The Ribéry clan is gathering in their hometown of Boulogne for the festive season.

"It's very cold there too," the Frenchman said, "but it's more important to be together with my family, so we can celebrate and laugh, I can clear my head and recover physically." The FCB favourite can always draw inspiration from the memories of the season so far. His 21 scorer points (goals plus assists) are a new personal best, his 153 dribbles are the league's top score, and no Munich man contested more challenges in league action (294).

"I feel as good as I did under [Ottmar] Hitzfeld. Jupp Heynckes is a coach who understands me, and gives me the freedom to do what I want with the ball," continued Ribéry, who is in the kind of form rarely seen since his first season at the club in 2007/08. "Heynckes is almost a father to me," he stated.

Coach with clear instructions

Heynckes' secret has been to combine sensitive management with clear instructions to the player. "He's the kind of player who I know how to get through to and how to motivate. But I also know how he needs to repay me, on the practice ground and in matches," the head coach reported. The 66-year-old requires Ribéry to join in the team's defensive efforts, and to score goals. "I've told him a player with his class should be scoring more often. He needs to be more selfish sometimes."

For his part, the player has taken the coach's words to heart. "Franck is putting in extra work in the weights room, and he's doing it even if he has a minor injury," Heynckes recently told kicker magazine. Ribéry has finally come through a half-season without a major injury: with the exception of an ankle problem at the end of pre-season, he has been spared long lay-offs, a major change compared to the misery of recent years.

Blossoming under Jupp

"Franck's come through a tricky phase, but he's feeling totally fit and really blossoming now," said the winger's friend Daniel van Buyten. Ribéry has been helped by Heynckes switching Philipp Lahm back to the left side, as the pair have resumed their highly productive partnership. "We have a great understanding," the Frenchman confirmed.

Even the normally stern Uli Hoeneß was moved to sympathy last week, happy to forgive the indiscretion leading to Ribéry's sending-off against Köln. "Franck has given us so much pleasure in this half-year. We should take him by the arm and say: that was dumb. But then we should simply forget it," the club president said.

More to come

Ribéry was determined to make up for his dismissal with a good display in Bochum. "Because of the business against Köln, it was important to me to play well today," he said afterwards. He is now looking to build on his man of the match display in the Ruhr Valley: "If I stay fit, I might get to next summer and be able to honestly say it was the best season of my career. But I can only do that with the team's help, and if we win trophies," he said.

Heynckes feels keeping up the hard work is the secret for Ribéry. "He mustn't rest on his laurels now, because he can be even better. Franck should only be satisfied when he's player of the year again, in France and at some point in Europe too. Then he'll get three days off from me." That, surely, is all the motivation Franck requires.
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