Anyone who has any lingering doubts whether Jurgen Klinsmann is determined to be an agent of change at Bayern Munich should have a word with the city’s photojournalists.
All 20 photographers accredited for Klinsmann’s first news conference on Wednesday stood up and walked out in a silent (and somewhat silly) protest because of a new rule limiting them to three minutes of pictures at the start.
Just as Klinsmann was a catalyst for change in his two years shaking up some of the antiquated structures in the German FA from 2004 to 2006, it seems abundantly clear the former Germany striker is not going to be satisfied with the status quo in Munich.
They might have won the Bundesliga and German Cup last year, but that’s not enough for Bayern.
In a refreshingly open 45 minutes, Klinsmann sketched out his ideas about Bayern’s direction—candidly saying the goals are a German domestic double and reaching the final of the Champions League—and kept referring to the centrepiece of his master plan, a new Hochleistungszentrum (high performance centre).
He’ll be expecting his players to spend all day—from 9:30 to 5:30—on site and use the few hours between morning and afternoon training sessions to work on their language skills, fitness abilities, or learn about new things.
“Matches are decided in the head,” he said at the news conference, which was broadcast live by two German TV networks. “It’s important to keep learning, to stay hungry to learn more.”
Klinsmann, who spent the last decade living in California, has a number of critics in Germany skeptical of his American-style optimism. They are also unsure about imported training methods from a country they tend to view as a minor soccer nation.
But as well as working with the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns in the past two years, Klinsmann has also spent time in South America and has worked hard to learn Spanish—adding to his Italian, French, and English skills.
“I did a lot of travelling. And obviously I spent a lot of effort to learn more about soccer. It’s my belief that everyone can learn something from someone else. You just have to open yourself up to it,” he said.
He was certain his players were going to welcome the new challenges rather than feel any burdens, adding it will “set new energies free.” Klinsmann said one of his biggest challenges will be keeping all his talent-laden squad happy.
“We’ve got two players for every position and for some positions there are even three people at a very high level,” he said. “I’ve got my work cut out for me. But I’m really looking forward to it.”
He said he had intentionally refrained from any TV or print interviews of any kind for the last six months, but had been excited about the new season in the Bundesliga since the moment Bayern bosses called him just before Christmas.
“I’m extremely ambitious and sometimes as a player I was a bit too ambitious at times. But I want to move something here at Bayern. What I’ve missed most the last two years was the day-in and day-out work with the players. If everyone gets a little bit better the team will automatically be better. I can’t describe how happy I am to be back.”
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