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Season in review

Van Bommel: Chemistry was there from the start

In his second season at Bayern, Mark van Bommel confirmed his status as one of the leading personalities in the team. now presents the Dutch midfielder’s take on the successful 2007-8 campaign. In part one, Mark focuses on the Bundesliga.

Mark van Bommel’s review of the season, part 1

”I’ve usually won a trophy in my first season with a new club, but it took a little longer with Bayern. However, the treble of the Bundesliga, the DFB Cup and the League Cup takes me to 16 trophies in my career, which isn’t bad. Obviously you have a good chance of silverware with Bayern, but against that, the pressure here is enormous. Before the season, everyone expected us to win the league, the Cup and the UEFA Cup, but that made the task even more difficult. I think we still succeeded in coping well with the pressure.

With the exception of a few games here and there we were outstanding as a team, and that wasn’t necessarily to be expected. Eight new players arrived in the summer and nine moved on. You don’t get that kind of turnover very often at a club like Bayern, and it’s certainly something I’d never experienced before. But the board pulled off the difficult task of brining in players who possessed the right quality and still fitted in with the team. The chemistry was there right from the start and the atmosphere in the team was good, we got on with each other both on and off the field, there were no cliques, and that was the basis for our success.

You could see we were all pulling together on the field of play. We had a good feeling as early as pre-season, and that was confirmed when we won the League Cup. We played Bremen, Stuttgart and Schalke, the three teams who finished ahead of us last term – and we beat the lot. It sent out a strong signal to our rivals.

And then we played Burghausen. We’ve just been talking about it again in Jakarta: along with Getafe, Burghausen was one of the turning points of the season. It was the first “real“ fixture of the season after the League Cup, and that can tell you a lot about how the campaign is going to go. If we’d been knocked out of the Cup in Burghausen, we’d have faced a storm of criticism right at the start, but thanks to Olli we made it through on penalties, and we followed that with a good start in the Bundesliga.

The first highlight was our 4-0 win in Bremen on matchday 2, a terrific moment for the whole group. We won our first three matches without conceding a goal. That helped maintain the excellent mood in the dressing room and we kept playing some good football. We only hit a rut after the 2-1 win in Bochum on matchday 10, but that’s normal for a team with eight new players. There’ll always be a rough patch, and ours wasn’t too bad really.

We didn’t play such good football in this phase, but we only lost once (to Stuttgart). And in the goalless draws at home to Frankfurt and Duisburg we were simply unlucky. I think we loosed off 50 shots at goal in both games, but the ball just didn’t want to cross the line. Bremen came closer and closer, and we were only top at the halfway point on goal difference. We weren’t worried, but we had to show a reaction, and we did that in the second half of the season.

We started well after the winter break. We beat Wuppertal in the Cup, we were victorious against Rostock and Hanover, and draws against Bremen and Hamburg are perfectly acceptable. Our 2-1 win against Leverkusen a week after our second defeat of term in Cottbus was very important. Leverkusen were only six points behind us at the time, and HSV just four. We shook both of them off from then on.

After that it took care of itself. We played some great stuff against Dortmund (5-0), Frankfurt (3-1) and Stuttgart (4-1), and we also won the DFB Cup in between times. A point in Wolfsburg was enough to wrap up the title with three games to spare, and that in the absence of six or seven injured regulars. Even though we had the league in the bag, we kept it up right to the end of the campaign, we won all our matches and played well too.“