Klinsmann’s plan for progress
German double winners Bayern Munich have added ten new faces to their staff for the 2008/09 campaign. After investing more than 70 million euros on Franck Ribery, Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose the previous summer, you might think the most successful club in German football had made another costly raid on the transfer market, but you would be mistaken.
Bayern have signed just two new players; midfielder Tim Borowski and goalkeeper Hans-Jorg Butt, both on free transfers. All the remaining new arrivals belong to Jurgen Klinsmann’s coaching staff.
The 1990 FIFA World Cup Italy™-winner was unveiled as the Bavarian giants' new coach on 11 January 2008 in Munich. The announcement stunned seasoned observers, as Bayern is his first coaching appointment at club level. The Munich board was persuaded by Klinsmann's spell at the Germany helm from 2004 to 2006, culminating in a thrilling run to third place at the FIFA World Cup two years ago.
Different task, same philosophy
Klinsmann’s then-assistant, Joachim Low, succeeded him in the national team hot-seat. "It’s an exciting project whereby a former national coach, who set a lot of things in motion, is now supervising a major German club," Low said on learning of his friend's appointment in Munich.
The pair set a new course for the German national team, bringing in experts from all over the world to work on fitness and mental strength, and introducing state-of-the-art training ground methods, all geared at implementing Klinsmann’s basic philosophy of wanting every player to improve every day.
Klinsmann is now keen to foster this same philosophy at Bayern, hiring an eight-strong coaching team to put his ideas into practice. Assistant coach Martin Vasquez is joined by Nick Theslof, Walter Junghans, Darcy Norman, Thomas Wilhelmi, Marcelo Martins and Oliver Schmidtlein, the latter a familiar face after being on the club's staff until a year ago.
The multi-lingual ensemble is committed to the single goal of honing the players’ skills. Even a recognised superstar such as Ribery has room for improvement, Klinsmann feels, "and in every area too - communication, skill, tactics." Individual improvement automatically leads to a better team, Klinsmann has been explaining in a string of pre-season interviews.
The club has thrown itself whole-heartedly behind the new coach's project, investing a reported four million euros in transforming its headquarters and training facility to the south of the city. The players are invited to chill out in relaxation zones, take up yoga, sign up for language classes or retire to study rooms for a good read.
"Many players expect to be stimulated and motivated," Klinsmann reasoned. "Winning matches is all in the head. If I fail to offer mental training, I can’t see how I’m helping the players." The Bayern stars can expect holistic treatment in what has been dubbed an 'oasis of well-being'.
The flip side of this particular coin is a new eight-hour working day, requiring the players to spend a third of their time at the club’s Sabener Strasse facility. Against that, the squad has been spared a conventional training camp this summer, as the new performance centre is adjudged to provide all the necessary conditions for a comprehensive pre-season programme, rendering the traditional boot camp obsolete.
Jurgen Klinsmann himself regards his relationship with Bayern as a long-term commitment. "This is a huge chance to make an impact on a club which already boasts a wonderful history," he remarked. Innovative ideas, a new broom and new philosophies aside, one thing is already clear on the eve of the new Bundesliga campaign. At a club so accustomed to success, Jurgen Klinsmann’s efforts will ultimately be judged on victories and silverware.
Quoted in Kicker magazine, he said: "As long as the club thinks we’re doing a great job and identifies with our jointly-agreed philosophy, it’ll rate as a good season." However, many have questioned how Messrs Hoeness and Rummenigge might react to a season without silverware, regardless of new philosophies, new faces and new ideas.