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Interview: Uli Hoeneß

'No way Lehmann is the better keeper'

Uli Hoeneß has voiced his displeasure at certain aspects of Jürgen Klinsmann's decision in favour of Jens Lehmann and against Oliver Kahn. The Bayern general manager, interviewed by Premiere TV before kick-off in Bremen on Saturday, was in typically outspoken mood, finding particular fault with the timing of the announcement. "The day before the most important match since Christmas is a little previous to say the least."

Premiere TV interview with Uli Hoeneß

Question: Uli Hoeneß, when did Oliver Kahn find out he would not be Germany's number one goalkeeper at the World Cup?

Uli Hoeneß: "He spoke to Jürgen Klinsmann in a Munich hotel at around 11.30 yesterday morning."

Question: Do you think Jens Lehmann might have known about the decision in advance?

Hoeneß: "I believe Jens Lehmann has known about it for a year and a half, so it wasn't news to him."

Question: is Lehmann the better keeper at the present time?

Hoeneß: "Definitely not. But we're not prepared to go on analysing the subject et epic length. We accept the decision, although we think it's wrong. That's the way it will stay for now."

Question: You seem personally very disappointed. What will happen next?

Hoeneß: "You can hardly expect all of us to start hugging everyone else and shouting "Alleluia!" after one of our most important and best players has been demoted. But the best thing for everyone would be to take a two, three or four week time out, let everything settle in, and then make a good decision."

Question: Were you surprised at the decision to bring forward the announcement?

Hoeneß: "We think the timing, the day before a vital match, was unfortunate, and you could use stronger language than that. We wanted a quick decision, that's not in doubt. But the Friday lunchtime before the most important match since Christmas is a little previous, to say the least. We could have met up in Munich on Sunday, set aside time to talk everything through, but there's probably another plane taking off for California at that time."

Question: Do you think it's possible Kahn may turn his back on Germany and Bayern completely after this episode?

Hoeneß: "There is no reason whatsoever he should jack it all in here. I believe it will need two to three weeks for the shock and dismay to subside, but then he'll pick himself up and may still play a part at the World Cup. Then he will continue to deliver excellent performances for Bayern Munich over the next two seasons. Many people don't like the way Oliver has been treated. A lot of people will warm to him over the next few weeks."

Question: Will this change your attitude to the German national team in any way?

Hoeneß: "Of course not. We're all tremendously looking forward to the World Cup. Bayern Munich would never try to undermine such a massive enterprise for any petty reason. We'll do everything in our power to support the Germany cause at the World Cup."

Question: In other news today, one report claims Michael Ballack has received a formal offer from Chelsea.

Hoeneß: "I'm pretty certain Michael will move to Chelsea."

Question: Could Werder Bremen's Tim Borowski replace Ballack?

Hoeneß: "He's a fantastic player, but he definitely won't be coming to Bayern."