HomeSportOnce rejected, now the Munich machine

Once rejected, now the Munich machine

In March 1940, as the effects of war began to dawn on Germany, Hermann Goering announced Metallspende.

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This decreed that German people and institutions, including football clubs, donate metal for the war industry.

All heard, many delivered but some didn’t. The response of Magdalena Heidkamp, wife of Bayern Munich’s captain, Konrad, was to gather up what trophies Bayern had won, take them to a nearby farm and bury them.

After the war Magdalena dug them up: Bayern 1, Goering 0.
It is a story that sheds a different light on a club who otherwise seem content with their reputation for arrogant Bavarian power, and who were likened to a James Bond villain by Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp this week.

Magdalena’s story features in the new club museum at the Allianz Arena. Here, Bayern have recognised the Jewish part of their past.

In 1932, Bayern had won their first German title but with a Jewish president, coach and some Jewish players, they were shunned and dropped to 81st in the old divisional structure. In 1933, club president Kurt Landauer was interned at Dachau, from where four of his family did not return.

German top flight
Almost 20 years after the war, when the modern Bundesliga was founded, the club from Munich invited to join the new league were 1 860.

It took Bayern another two seasons to reach the new German top flight. This seeming uber-club, the epitome of the 21st century, insider-schmoozing, Champions League corporatism, have not always been so. The title of the museum’s 113-year-old story is: A Club Less Ordinary.

There is a swirl of history around Bayern Munich once again. There is an odds-on expectation that they will win the all-German Champions League final at Wembley tomorrow night and even a tentative feeling that with Pep Guardiola arriving, Bayern may be strong enough to become the first club in the Champions League era to successfully defend the title. Bayern are already favourites for 2014.

Hammering Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate in the semi-final — having beaten Juventus 4-0 in the last eight — prompted some of this, but it is the authority and confidence Bayern have demonstrated throughout an historic season that convinces.

They were showing a re-run of the semi-final second leg from the Nou Camp in the cafe adjacent to the club museum last week, while downstairs manager Jupp Heynckes was addressing history.

There are reasons why Bayern’s players and management have been receiving questions on this theme; and putting seven past Barcelona, having already secured the services of Guardiola and ‘Dortmund’s Messi’, Mario Gotze, for next season, are just two of them.

An avalanche
From the Bundesliga comes an avalanche: in finishing 25 points clear of their Wembley opponents at the top of the Bundesliga, Bayern set a new record total of 91 points and racked up an historic goal difference of plus-80. These are two of multiple domestic records Bayern either broke or equalled this season. Another is that they kept a clean sheet in 21 of 34 league games.

Along the way Bayern have played Dortmund four times. The two Bundesliga games have been drawn; Bayern won the equivalent of the Charity Shield and also beat Dortmund in the German Cup. On Saturday week, Bayern are in the final of that competition too. They are staring at a potential treble.

Yet even a club where the chief executive, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, confesses to arrogance cannot get ahead of themselves when asked about being on the brink of dominating an era. Because, as Didier Drogba can point out, Bayern know failure as well as success.

“Maybe,” was the reply of sporting director Matthias Sammer.
“We can only answer that after the final. We’ve won nothing yet.”

Omnipotence
Sammer oozes confidence but publicly Bayern have thoughts of omnipotence on hold. This is their third European Cup final in four years but the previous two against Inter Milan and Chelsea have been lost. Moreover, last season Bayern finished runners-up to Dortmund in the Bundesliga and the German Cup. Add that Chelsea loss — in their own stadium — and Bayern Munich’s treble last season consisted of three seconds. So there is an accusation that Munich’s supreme assurance conceals brittle belief.

“No, I don’t see that at all,” says Heynckes. “We are very strong, mentally, physically and psychologically. We have a clear target. This team are so focused on success. “In my career as a coach I have never seen this before. When you have lost the Champions League after being the better team for 120 minutes, it takes some guts to recover from that, I tell you.”

That Heynckes is on the verge of a treble unprecedented in Germany, and yet will be replaced by Guardiola, is dressed up as just one of those things. But there must be tensions, and there often are at a club with the nickname “FC Hollywood”.

Traumatic loss
After six years as Germany’s national technical director, Sammer arrived in Munich last July, shortly after that traumatic Champions League final loss at home to Chelsea on penalties. Asked about the recovery since, Sammer says: “If you analyse last year’s final, in our heads we weren’t robust enough.

“We played reasonably well but weren’t alert enough until the very last second.
“Without going into details, we made a few mistakes; maybe one or two substitutions wouldn’t have been necessary. You have to cross the finishing line before you can come to a conclusion.”

That appears to be a reference to the replacement of Thomas Muller — Bayern’s scorer in the 83rd minute — with defender Daniel van Buyten four minutes later. Sixty seconds on, Drogba equalised.

The vastly experienced Heynckes, a World Cup winner as a player and coach of Real Madrid when they won the Champions League in 1998, may not take kindly to that.

But Sammer is a winner too — he won the Champions League in 1998 as a player and the Bundesliga in 2002 as a coach, intriguingly with Borussia Dortmund. He also won Euro 96 with Germany — at Wembley.

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