A poor result, daggers being unsheathed and sharpened. A goalkeeper playing the role of a traffic cop. Uli Hoeneß talking about (not) spending big money. It is just another week in Munich, and time for another ramble.
The daggers are sheathed. And unsheathed again
Gossip mongers feed on gossip, and if they cannot find it they will just create it. As soon as FC Bayern München win a couple of games, the sharpened daggers are put away. Following a slip, they are out again, raised and glistening. The entire process has become tiresome, and adds a layer of FC Hollywood drama that we can all do without right now.
At least this week there was no more idle chitchat about the Carlo Ancelotti moving to China. That, for the time being at least, has been put back on the shelf.
We always knew it was going to be tough moving towards the turn of the year, and possibly beyond, without regular custodian Manuel Neuer. Sven Ulreich is a decent enough ‘keeper, but that is all.
Against Wolfsburg, Ulreich provided the home crowd with a real clanger. Maxi Arnold’s free-kick was not massively powerful, but all the former VfB Stuttgart gloveman could do was hold up a right hand. Rather like an ineffectual Verkehrspolizeibeamter.
Ulreich has been backed by the coach, but it is interesting that Tom Starke has been extracted out of retirement to join the squad. It is lucky that Starke is still fit, or we could have been looking at scraping the barrel and reeling in somebody like Tim Wiese. OK, maybe not.
Uli Hoeneß makes it clear
There has been much discussion about Bayern joining the moneybags rather than beating them. While not actually advocating it as some have suggested, Robert Lewandowski alluded to upping the bargaining stakes in his controversial Spiegel interview.
Bayern president Uli Hoeneß, meanwhile, remains unimpressed. His contention – as is mine – is that the market is just crazy right now. Keep pumping air into the balloon, and it will inevitably burst. For Uli, bringing a €100 million signing to Munich is out of the question.
While most of us are looking at the enforcement of Financial Fair Play putting a brake on state-sponsored playthings like PSG and Manchester City, Hoeneß provides another take which is just as compelling.
Speaking to kicker, Hoeneß argues that the Bavarian club just need to remain patient and stay true to their long-held and much-respected principles. Excellent squad selection. Gathering exceptional talent at the right time and price. In short, financial common sense. Meanwhile, the others can throw their money around.
Hoeneß makes the point that only one team can win the Champions League every year. Nobody can argue with that. There are no gold stars for finishing second or reaching the last four. He applies simple business logic: when investors fail to recoup, impatience will take over.
It makes complete sense. Impatient moneybags being what they are, they will soon get tired of their little toys and throwing good money after bad. Many of these people are not football supporters, and see these clubs as little more than an investment. In the business world, if an investment fails to deliver, you ditch it.
When this happens, Hoeneß states, Bayern’s time will come. Und dann ist unsere Zeit da.
The eleventh commandment
There are, however, some very fine fault lines appearing in the Bayern hierarchy. I say very fine, before some of the more lazy observers out there choose to turn it into a good old-fashioned Bavarian blood feud. While Uli Hoeneß has been unequivocal about keeping the Bavarians’ purse strings pulled tight, club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has presented a more open-ended approach.
While maintaining the party line and the emphasis on good financial management, Rummenigge has chosen not to rule anything out.
Kalle was suitably cryptic: In Stein gemeißelt sind nur die zehn Gebote. “Only the ten commandments are carved in stone”.
Perhaps King Kalle has not considered the eleventh commandment. Thou shalt not disobey Uli Hoeneß.
Closer to home
Unlike those who have a genuine vested interest in a football club – like Uli Hoeneß – the investors and speculators will always put their pockets first. We all are looking at the big guns, but a recent example can be found closer to home. Right in the middle of Munich, in fact.
Backed by the Jordanian investor Hasan Abdullah Ismaik, Bayern’s city rivals TSV 1860 München went as far as the 50+1 rule allowed. The club spent obscene amounts – relatively speaking – on new signings, confident in the belief that it would result in promotion success and a quick return to the top flight.
When it failed, it failed utterly. On the pitch, Die Löwen were sent down to the third division. Off it, Ismaik’s unwillingness to throw more money into the pot saw the once-proud club sent down to the depths of amateur football in the fourth tier.
Success is earned, not bought
Paris Saint-Germain were only founded in 1970. For many years, they were occasional French champions, and little more than a blip on the European football radar. Now, they are among the continent’s purchasing powerhouses. However, it just takes the withdrawal of their Qatari investors to trigger an epic collapse.
Should PSG fail to win the big prize, their place among the continent’s elite may disappear as quickly as it was it bought. Left to melt, like an expired plastic credit card thrown into onto a bonfire.
Armed with their battery of expensive (read: overpriced) purchases, PSG may well go on to win the Champions League. But should they fail, the chances are that they will fade away completely as their capricious investors decide to move onto something else.
FC Bayern München has never been like this. Success has always been earned, not bought. It is a principle that Uli Hoeneß holds dear, a principle that all fans should look to embrace and be proud of. Mia san mia.