At the end of a week, after being reprimanded by his club for criticising Frank Ribery in the media, Bayern Munich coach Louis van Gaal has insisted that he still took pleasure from his job with the German champions.
On Thursday, Bayern's director of sport Christian Nerlinger took van Gaal to task for accusing Ribery of not putting enough effort into a friendly match designed to help the French international return to full fitness.
"He sometimes provokes and you shouldn't always take everything he says seriously." Nerlinger said of van Gaal. "But he is not giving the best impression of us at the moment and we have to work on changing this."
We won the German Super-Cup, we have our ticket to the Champions League last 16, we're still in the running for the German Cup and we're only five points behind third place (in the league).
Despite that rebuke van Gaal maintained Friday that all was well at Bayern. "The most important thing is the chemistry between my players and my staff. It's very good."
And despite Bayern's position, 14 points adrift of Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund, the Dutch coach described the first half of the season as having been "fantastic". "We won the German Super-Cup, we have our ticket to the Champions League last 16, we're still in the running for the German Cup and we're only five points behind third place (in the league)."
"The only difference with last season is that Dortmund are further ahead than Leverkusen were at the same period. We all have to row in the same direction, and everything is possible (in the second half of the campaign).
"I've said to my players that they must believe in themselves, that's the most important thing."
Van Gaal then disclosed he had had a meeting with Bayern directors on Thursday. "Everything went very well," he reported. Van Gaal is under contract until 2012, but with his side eighth in the table, Bayern's bosses are far from impressed with this season's performances after the Dutchman won the German league and cup double last season.