presented by
Van Bommel:

Everyone's expecting great things of us

Mark van Bommel is not lacking in experience from his days with Eindhoven and Barcelona, but the personable 29-year-old has never experienced the arrival of eight new players all at once. "It's definitely not typical for a club as big as Bayern," Van Bommel conceded in an exclusive interview.

On the flight to the first warm-up match of the new season in Hong Kong, Mark underlined the importance of integrating the host of new players as quickly as possible. The man Ottmar Hitzfeld has called his "aggressive leader" will play a key role in that process, "but I was always aware of that. I was made captain in Eindhoven at the age of 23, so I reckon I know what I have to do."

Interview: Mark van Bommel Mark, your friend and fellow-countryman Roy Makaay has left Bayern for Feyenoord. Are you missing him already?

Mark van Bommel: "Yes, a little. But I don't think I'm the only one. A lot of people here think it's a shame he's gone. Roy is a good guy, and of course he's a quality footballer. But that's the way it is in football. Things happen very quickly sometimes, as it did with my transfer from Barcelona to Munich last year." Apart from Roy, six further players have left the club, and there are eight new arrivals. Have you ever experienced such dramatic change in a team?

Van Bommel: "No, never. It's definitely not typical for a club as big as Bayern. I've had a chat with the three new guys who've come with us to Hong Kong. I think they're all good lads. That'll definitely make the process of integration much easier." The signing of world stars like Ribéry, Toni and Klose will mean enormous pressure next season.

Van Bommel: "Definitely. The media has been full of nothing but Bayern for weeks. Everyone says we're runaway favourites. Three TV stations broadcast live from our first training session. I've never seen as many reporters at a training session on one day. After the millions that have been spent, everyone's expecting great things of us. Obviously, the pressure to succeed at Bayern is always very high, but it will be incredible this year, more than ever before." What are your goals for the coming campaign?

Van Bommel: "I have a good feeling about the new season. Naturally, we want to win the league, but we also want to go as far as possible in the cup competitions, preferably starting straight away in the League Cup. We could win a total of four trophies. If we can win three, and one of them is the championship, I reckon that wouldn't be too bad." As an experienced player, people will have even higher expectations of you than last season, especially in terms of helping the new arrivals settled in.

Van Bommel: "We all have to help the new players integrate as quickly as possible. Naturally, the experienced players have to take a greater share of the responsibility. But I was always aware of that. I was made captain in Eindhoven at the age of 23. I think I know what I have to do." We're likely to see a new tactical system at the club next term. How do you personally think Bayern will play?

Van Bommel: "I think we'll use the flanks more then we have done, to provide a service to our two strong centre forwards. I also think we could play with two holding midfielders. But thanks to the resources at our disposal, we could do something totally different every now and then. I have complete faith in our coach Ottmar Hitzfeld. He's fully aware of our potential, and he'll translate that into tactics as he sees fit." Many experts think you could play alongside Zé Roberto in a two-man holding role. You'd probably play slightly more defensively, which would mean fewer attacking opportunities than you had last season.

Van Bommel: "It's not a problem, I know the role well from my time in Eindhoven. There were three of us in midfield, and we switched positions all the time." One last question: you've been in Munich for a year now, how would you sum it up from a personal point of view?

Van Bommel: "My family and I settled very quickly, and we're very happy in Munich. We've made a few friends as well. But we Dutch folk never have problems in that respect. We're very open-minded people, we settle into a new environment quickly and feel positive about it."