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Hoeneß speaks

‘There are signs of real progress’

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Bayern manager Uli Hoeneß is understandably pleased with the team’s recent upsurge in form, culminating in the 2-1 midweek victory in Frankfurt to take the champions within four points of shock Bundesliga leaders Hoffenheim. “I’m totally impressed with what’s being achieved there. These guys are really sticking to their task,” Hoeneß told reporters on Thursday. The board director also spoke about the FCB squad’s gradual improvement, Franck Ribéry’s return from injury, and the Champions League.

Uli Hoeneß on…

...calling for Bayern to be top of the league by Christmas: “At the time, that was meant to be provocative. I wanted us to remember who we are. Against Wolfsburg and again yesterday, the team radiated belief and the will to win. Coming from behind like that doesn’t happen automatically. I think I said it at the right time, although it was really only a call to arms. If we miss it by a point or two, that’s OK as well. That’s in the target area.“

…the team’s progress: “The Frankfurt game showed one or two of our players are improving fast. There are signs of real progress, in our belief, willingness to take responsibility, and desire to turn the game round. One or two gave an object lesson in how to react.“

…Franck Ribéry: “We’ve had good and bad games with Franck. Obviously he’s vital, and it was clear we’d miss him until he was completely fit. But he’s gradually recovering form, and we’re more solid and unpredictable now.“

…Bayern’s Champions League campaign: “Our priority was to qualify from the group, and it looks like we can do that. We’re through if we avoid defeat in Florence, we’ll have a great chance of progressing. But then it comes down to the luck of the draw, so I’m never going to set a target of reaching the final. We’d never be so arrogant as to claim we can see off anyone who crosses our path.“

…surprise package Hoffenheim: “I’m totally impressed with what’s being achieved there. These guys are really sticking to their task. We fully respect [club patron] Mr Hopp and what he and his people are doing. It’s no accident, but I think Kaiserslautern winning the league back then [as a promoted club] was a one-off. We won’t see that again with Hoffenheim, although they’re set to become established at the top end of the Bundesliga. There’s no way we’ll just shake them off, they’ll be snapping away at our heels. They’re doing really well. Hats off to them for what they’ve achieved so far.“

…a potential new contract with Zé Roberto: “Zé is a really likeable and emotional guy. It’ll all come down to how he’s feeling when we talk in the spring. If that’s all OK, I’m sure any talks we hold will last seven to twelve minutes at most. It’s really not a problem at the moment, we need him to stay happy and fit. If he maintains his current form, we’ll obviously do our best to keep him another year.“

…Toni Kroos: “He’s a shade unlucky in that Jürgen Klinsmann has rightly said we need a settled team at the current time, just when he’s raring to go. He needs to be patient, work hard and train well. He’s only 18 but he’ll definitely make it, I’m convinced of that. We need to give him time. Once things are back to normal, he’ll definitely get another chance.“

…rumours regarding Arshavin and Tymoshchuk: “We’ve never gone after Arshavin. We were interested in Tymoshchuk last summer and held talks with St. Petersburg, but we couldn’t get them to release him, so the matter is closed for the time being. The rumours put about by the press at the moment are rubbish. We haven’t talked to St. Petersburg at all.“