Created on 11-07-2008 at 00:00 AM
Even before Jürgen Klinsmann officially took over as head coach on 30 June, a wind of change was in the air at Bayern. The performance centre, eight-hour day and arrival of a sports psychologist were all visible symbols of a new approach at the Säbener Strasse, although the biggest changes of all were to the coaching staff.
Alongside assistants Martin Vasquez and Nick Theslof, Klinsmann is supported by fitness specialists Oliver Schmidtlein, Thomas Wilhelmi, Marcelo Martins and Darcy Norman, responsible for the individual conditioning programmes which form a key part of Klinsmann’s drive to make every player a little better every day.
More influence over the players
“You can achieve a lot more here than with a national team,” explained Schmidtlein. “After the World Cup, we were secretly hoping we’d be able to continue what we started there, but at club level, where you can work much more intensively with the players. The lack of time means you’re always making compromises with a national team, but at a club, you can influence a player’s progress for a full year.”
Schmidtlein, who worked with Klinsmann in the Germany set-up and has now returned to the double winners after a year away, leads the fitness section. The 43-year-old co-ordinates his colleagues’ efforts and is the first port of call for Klinsmann and the medical unit, with whom injured players’ recuperation schedules will be agreed in detail.
“Thomas, Darcy and I will share the active rehab training duties,” explained Schmidtlein, who heads up the newly-named “performance unit”. Marcelo Martins will be “closer to the team” and the most visible of the quartet in daily training. The Brazilian, most recently fitness coach for the Qatar national squad, will supervise co-ordination, fitness and warm-up exercises in the gym and on the practice ground.
The four specialists have known each other for some time now. “I met all of them in 2006,” commented Wilhelmi, who worked alongside Martins and Norman for Athlete‘s Performance, the renowned elite athletes’ training centre established by American fitness guru Mark Verstegen.
“When we were assembling the team, we considered personality and expertise as factors, but also the fact that these are guys who’ll get along really well with the kind of players we have at Bayern,” Klinsmann explained. Martins will also specifically serve as a link with the club’s South American contingent. “We deliberately picked him for his cultural background, but he’s also excellent in his field,” Schmidtlein confirmed.
“It’s important the players hear more voices than just mine, otherwise it might all be too much at some point,” Klinsmann continued. By Bayern standards the coaching staff is a large one, but in comparison to other leading clubs such as Chelsea or Inter Milan, the Munich team remains modest. “I know Jose Mourinho, and I know how many people he has around him. We’re very much on the low side.”
“It’s a great honour for me to be part of Jürgen Klinsmann’s team at Bayern,” a beaming Martins reported, “this is the best place I’ve ever worked up to now.” Added Canadian-born Darcy Norman: “I’m very impressed with the lads. They’re incredibly friendly and totally committed. It’s been a fantastic experience for me so far.”