Created on 08-07-2008 at 00:00 AM
Jürgen Klinsmann is not a fan of coaching from the touchline. The new Bayern boss likes to be in the thick of the action, conveying his thoughts and instructions directly to his players. From behind the back four, sometimes in the midfield holding areas, or occasionally out on the wing, Klinsmann issues orders, indicates better zonal positioning, cajoles and encourages. And if he feels it necessary, he will break off the play and point out errors.
That at least was the case in last Saturday’s 45-minute warm-up match between the seniors and the reserves, when Klinsmann covered almost as much ground as his players. The new coach told his first news conference that he wants his men to dominate and dictate matches, but that is merely the briefest of summaries of a far more complex and multi-layered strategy.
Playing to individual strengths
“I do think it’s important for us to define a philosophy for Bayern,” the 43-year-old mused in conversation with fcbayern.de. That extends beyond the field of play to incorporate wider societal dimensions, he feels: “The history of the club, the personalities of the players who shaped Bayern, the culture here in Munich, the region and Bavaria. What’s the defining characteristic of the folk here? Is it innovation, is it the courage to take risks, is it domination, is it the saying: Mia san mia (We are who we are)?“
Naturally, much is dictated by the qualities of the players at the club. “The system has to suit the players, they have to feel comfortable with it,” Klinsmann insisted. Individual ability will play a crucial role. “Our job is to promote each individual’s particular strengths, combining these strengths in a jigsaw, so each goes out there and shows what he can do, perhaps going on to settle the outcome with one piece of individual brilliance.“
The means to an end
Klinsmann is fundamentally convinced “that we have the squad to play attacking, authoritative football.“ Indeed, Bayern’s tactics will almost inevitably call for authority and control, not only in home Bundesliga fixtures but almost always away as well, as experience shows most opponents opting for ultra-defensive strategies.
Klinsmann hopes to prepare his team perfectly for exactly these situations: “Once we’ve sat with the players in a couple of weeks and defined our philosophy, we’ll direct our training efforts directly at it.“ The players have already begun trying out complex short passing and moving exercises in strictly confined spaces.
No change against top teams
Klinsmann wants his men to impose their style of play on higher-quality as well as more limited opposing teams: “We don’t look to anyone else for inspiration. We need a mental attitude which says: our opponents will be forced to adapt to our style of play. We refuse to sit back and let them impose their style on us.”
An essential component in the plan is retaining possession, and regaining it quickly when the ball is lost. “We need to develop the habit of winning the ball back where we lost it. We don’t want to be forced on the defensive and have to reorganise.“ That will entail early pressing all over the field by every member of the team: “If our opponents are trying to construct a move down one flank, we want to try and close them down right there and make it as tight as possible for them.“
Risk of counter-attacks
To help his men in this respect, Klinsmann has had a new line marked on the training pitch, dissecting the field of play longwise. The coach reckons the obvious danger of his side being caught on the break is a risk worth taking. “There are fewer and fewer defenders capably of suddenly switching the play the way Andy Brehme used to do. If we come up against one, we’ll have to chase back after them.“
Maintaining this aggressive style of play for an entire match will naturally require total concentration and superb conditioning. The expanded coaching staff is currently working with the stars on the basics of fitness, tactics, technique and mental strength. “We’re in a position to work with every player, every day, and come up with very deep analyses,” Klinsmann concluded.