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Klinsmann exclusive:

'Coaching staff and I are incredibly excited'

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After a 44-day summer break, the Bayern senior squad reported back to the Säbener Strasse for the 2008-9 season on Monday. After winning a domestic treble and reaching the UEFA Cup semi-finals last term, the men from Munich are as hungry as ever for success in the new campaign. The weight of expectation hardly makes life easier for new head coach Jürgen Klinsmann and his revamped backroom team. Before supervising his first training session, the 43-year-old spoke exclusively to about his new job, confessing he was “unbelievably excited“ about the forthcoming challenge.

Interview: Jürgen Klinsmann Jürgen Klinsmann, a very warm welcome to Bayern Munich. You were in Vienna for the Euro 2008 final yesterday evening, so what’s your take on the tournament?
Jürgen Klinsmann: “I think we’ve all been privileged to witness an excellent European championship, with a fantastic atmosphere in all the stadiums, terrific matches and a few genuinely top class displays from some of the teams. It was a fantastic Euro with Spain the deserved winners.“ Germany came third at the last World Cup and second this time round, but missed out on the trophy again.
Klinsmann: “Obviously, once you’ve made it to the final, you’re determined to win it. The players are extremely disappointed right now, because the chance to win the European championship doesn’t come along every day. That’ll gnaw away at them for a couple of weeks. But we came up against Spain, a team who on this particular evening were a couple of notches better and fully deserved the trophy.“ How would you rate the performance of the Bayern contingent?
Klinsmann: “I believe the Bayern players made their mark on the European championship. Schweinsteiger played very well at times, Philipp Lahm was the best left-back at the tournament. Marcell Jansen had his ups and downs, Miro Klose was left alone and unsupported after the switch to 4-5-1, it was very tough for him. Hamit Altintop had a superb tournament. He roused the Turkey side, and became the leader of his team. I’ve already congratulated him and told him he can be seriously proud of what he’s achieved with Turkey.“ Did you spot any players who might be of interest to Bayern?
Klinsmann: “A club like Bayern, with its European positioning and broad horizons, has scouts at every match. We’re permanently watching players, not necessarily for this summer, but for the season after this one. We have to take a long-term view, and consider how the team might look in two or four years. We’ll keep an eye on any player who looks interesting at a major event like this. And if we identify a player we’d really like to bring here, the bosses take over from there.“ Let’s talk about the new season. In the space of just six weeks, the old professionals’ quarters has been transformed into the new performance centre. What are you hoping to achieve?
Klinsmann: “It’s a unique chance to combine a number of components. We’ve torn down all the walls they’d let us tear down, creating a space for the players to relax, escape or pursue personal development. We’ve created a space aimed at optimising their performance, off the field as well as on it. We have two fundamental components: intensive training programmes on the pitch, and our desire to help them develop personally away from the field. It’s a fantastic centre, the coaching staff are incredibly excited. It’s unique anywhere in the world, the Real Madrids and Barcelonas don’t have one. We’re really proud of it.“ What have you been doing since you were unveiled as the new coach back in January?
Klinsmann: “Once you’ve accepted a new challenge, you get stuck in from the very first day. Since the unveiling in January, I’ve been working full time for Bayern. Take the performance centre, that was very, very time consuming. Every little detail of the work crossed my desk, I was permanently on the phone or writing e-mails, and I came over twice a month, although I obviously stayed in the background, as I absolutely didn’t want to get in Ottmar Hitzfeld’s way.“ Are you looking forward to your first training session?
Klinsmann: “Of course, the new coaching staff and I are really excited and looking forward to it. We’ve put together a genuinely top-class coaching team. We’ve also appointed Christian Nerlinger as team manager to handle the administrative side of things and take all that off the coaches’ hands. We’ve hired Philipp Laux, a sports psychologist, to help the players with character-related aspects and develop their mental ability. It’s a superb team with an incredible amount of energy, it’s going to be hugely enjoyable.“ The fans will definitely be thrilled about that, and also the fact that this week’s training sessions are all open to the public. There have been any number of rumours flying around, can you tell us any more?
Klinsmann: “I said at the unveiling in January that I wouldn’t make any statements to the media until 30 June out of total respect for Ottmar Hitzfeld, so the media just went and made everything up. Bayern is run as a family club for the fans by dynamic but also emotional personalities such as Uli Hoeneß, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Karl Hopfner and Franz Beckenbauer. I’ve never given a thought to preventing supporters from watching training sessions, although once we’re into the competitive part of the season and we’re running specific tactical sessions, we don’t necessarily want to be showing our hand in public. But the fans will continue to have access to us and close proximity to the players. That’s very, very important to us.“ Expectations at Bayern are always extremely high, anything less than the league title usually won’t do. How will you cope with that?
Klinsmann: “We’re proud expectations are running so high. Bayern are one of the world’s elite clubs, we measure ourselves against the elite, that’s the standard we have to set ourselves. Our goals are easily stated: we want to end the season with trophies. Domestic success goes without saying, and we want to make an impression in Europe and go as far as we can. And the further we get, the hungrier we’ll be. We have to set our sights high, but we wouldn’t want it any other way, it gives us energy and inspiration at work every day.“