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‘Lights to flag’ triumph

Bayern celebrate Sunday’s 'golden point’

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Bastian Schweinsteiger was sold by Bayern shortly after Sunday’s meeting with Wolfsburg – or at least that was the threat issued by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge after the midfielder decanted a glass of Weissbier over the chairman’s head during a post-match field interview. “Uli Hoeneß told me to do it! So I thought I’d be all right,” explained the miscreant, although he was hardly the worst of the beer-throwers.

Luca Toni emerged as the King of the Beer Shower, sparing neither Ottmar Hitzfeld nor any of his fellow players after claiming the first league crown of his career. The Italian even seized the captain’s armband and issued a message in German via TV to injured skipper Oliver Kahn back in Munich: “Ciao Olli, I’m the captain!“ Bayern’s cup of joy truly ran over on Sunday.

Praise for the team

A dour goalless draw would not normally cause such high spirits, but the single point earned against the Wolves sufficed to hand Bayern a 21st domestic title with three games to spare, and also wrapped up the club’s seventh Cup and league double. “It was a golden point,” laughed Rummenigge, praising the players for “a super season. They’ve achieved great things and we’re very satisfied.“

The Reds’ below-par display attracted no real criticism. “It was obvious we wanted nothing more than a point today,” reflected Hoeneß. Just three days after the nightmare UEFA Cup exit in St Petersburg, and with a host of players out injured, Hitzfeld thought the performance was “what you’d expect. But we still collected a vital point and won the league, so let me praise the team for their determination and desire.“

Happy Hoeneß

Mark van Bommel echoed the thought, “because we came here without five, six or seven regulars. We didn’t play well, but it doesn’t matter how you win the title.“ The Dutchman, a first-time championship winner with Bayern, felt the outcome was deserved over the season as a whole. “There was a short period before Christmas when we didn’t play very well, but otherwise we’ve been outstanding.“

Hoeneß declared himself “highly satisfied“ with the 2007-8 campaign. “The title is the result of a season of domination,” observed the 56-year-old, now with 16 Bundesliga triumphs and nine German Cup successes in his time as general manager. “Before the season, we never wished for more than the double, but we made the UEFA Cup semis as well.“

Table-toppers from start to finish

‘It’s especially praiseworthy this time,” Hoeneß continued, “because we’ve topped the table since the first day. The rest of the league came after us, but we went serenely on our way.“ Echoing past achievements in 1968-9, 1972-3 and 1984-5, Bayern managed a ‘lights-to-flag’ campaign at the top of the standings, a feat yet to be emulated by any other Bundesliga team.

The 2007-8 double also reflects the great success of the most radical pre-season overhaul of the playing staff in living memory. In the light of a disastrous 2006-7, “we had to start again with a clean slate,” Rummenigge recalled. Following a thorough rehabilitation on the domestic scene, the club is now looking forward to retaking its place at Europe’s top table next term. “The Champions League is more important than anything else next season,“ Hoeneß conceded.

Fan Fest on 17 May

However, celebrations are the order of the day in Munich for now. “It’ll be a huge party tonight, the team’s deserved it,” Rummenigge announced. The process duly continued on the team flight back to Bavaria. “There was plenty going on, with pillow fights and I don’t know what,” reported Hoeneß on the plane’s arrival shortly before midnight.

The party went on into the small hours at the Käfer gourmet establishment, where the injured players joined their team-mates. The championship shield which did the rounds was only a copy, as the original will not be handed over until after the final match of the season on 17 May, when the team will parade to the central Marienplatz and appear in front of their fans. “There’ll be a huge festival,” Hoeneß confirmed.

Hoeneß spared

The Bayern manager was the only man to leave Wolfsburg without receiving a shower of beer, spared due to suffering from a cold, but otherwise the ale fell like rain. “The lads have been under immense pressure all season, so it’s no wonder they’ve flipped now they’ve hit their targets,” argued Hoeneß, “if you count the League Cup, we’ve won two and a half trophies, and the pressure valves have been released.“