“We will protect our players and our coach.”
By James Dale
Last Updated: 19/10/18 12:40pm
Bayern Munich chiefs have shocked German media in an unexpected news conference, announcing they will no longer accept “degrading” criticism of their players.
The last-minute scheduling of a media briefing with three of the club’s key figureheads – president Uli Hoeness, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic – sparked reports of a major announcement on Friday.
Speculation that Arsene Wenger was set to return to football at the club mounted, with head coach Niko Kovac having come under pressure following a run of four games without a win.
But Bayern defended Kovac and launched a surprise rant against the treatment of Bayern Munich’s players following back-to-back defeats for the Germany national team against France and the Netherlands.
‘Respektlos’, the German for ‘disrespectful’, was consistently used as Rummenigge cited Article 1 of the German constitution – ‘the dignity of the human being is inviolable’ – in an impassioned defence of his playing staff.
“We got together on Monday after the Holland match and decided that we would not accept that style anymore,” said. “What was left to read had nothing to do with the performance, but was just a retaliation on individual players.
“We at Bayern will not accept it anymore. What I had to read about Manuel Neuer, I do not have any words.
“What Manuel has created in this game over the last few years should not be a second opinion, and when I read about our centre-backs [Mats] Hummels and [Jerome] Boateng described as ‘old men’s football’, I wonder: is it still going on?”
Rummenigge said the club’s older players – including non-German representatives – have been unfairly targeted, while Juventus have been praised for their signing of Cristiano Ronaldo.
“The same applies to [Franck] Ribery and [Arjen] Robben. These guys have helped over the past decade to make FC Bayern a shining star in the football world. And when I read this age-border debate, that’s polemical and nothing else.
“I would also like to remind that German media have presented the transfer of a 33-year-old (Ronaldo) as the biggest coup.”
Bayern said they have filed two injunctions against the media in the last fortnight, with Hoeness, a former Bayern player, saying “it’s about time that the biggest club in Germany takes a clear stance on this issue”.
Rummenigge added: “We celebrated a six-year-long party here, we won everything there is to win and Germany were also crowned the world champions in 2014 – with many players from Bayern.
“We did not like the results and the style of play either, but that does not allow us to deal with the players in this way, it’s an important day for Bayern because we tell them that the club will not be able to provide this coverage anymore.
“We will protect our players and our coach today.”
Kovac, meanwhile, was relaxed during his regular pre-match news conference ahead of facing Wolfsburg this weekend.
He dismissed speculation about his future in Munich.
“Not everything is as grim as it is presented and I also said after our good start this season that not everything was rosy,” Kovac, in his first season at Bayern, said.
“Changing everything now would just be doing it for the sake of change and that never works. You have to stick to your plan.
“Throwing everything overboard and inventing something on the spot does not make sense. You will never get that from me.”