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Happy Hoeneß

‘We’re poised to hit our initial target’

On the back of Wednesday’s 5-0 win away to Sporting Lisbon, Uli Hoeneß reckons Bayern will comfortably progress to the last eight of the Champions League. “I’m assuming we’ll make the quarter-finals now,” the FCB general manager told reporters after the final whistle at the José Alavalade stadium.

Long-serving official Hoeneß immediately turned his attention to the next tough away task, Sunday’s Bundesliga trip to Werder Bremen: “Today will only rate as a fantastic result if we follow it up in Bremen.”

Uli Hoeneß after the Sporting match:

Question: Uli Hoeneß, are you surprised by the result tonight?
Uli Hoeneß: “At half-time, I never thought we’d win so easily. We were nervous and under pressure at the start. We were shaken by the defeat to Köln, and it showed in the first half-hour. But we loosened up after scoring the second, our confidence returned, and the team went into overdrive.”

Question: How much can we read into the result?
Hoeneß: “We’ve done terrifically well in the first of three tough away games. We’ve shed our nervousness before going to Bremen. But tonight will only rate as a fantastic result if we follow it up in Bremen. We basically can’t afford to lose there.”

Question: Would you agree Bayern have been strangely unpredictable recently?
Hoeneß: “I think the team was very unsettled by the three defeats, the players were nervous. But they’ve shown what they can do when they shake off their nerves. We showed our true face after going 2-0 up. We all saw the quality of the players out there.”

Question: Thinking back to the 5-1 cup victory in Stuttgart, could this be another result which flatters to deceive?
Hoeneß: “You should never belittle a 5-0 away win, as is the way so often in Germany. We win 5-0, people say we faced weak opposition. We lose, and we’re a catastrophe. I can’t accept this attitude over the long term. We should view tonight’s win in a positive light.”

Question: Is it a mental thing, are the players simply more alert in the Champions League?
Hoeneß: “No, no, no. After we scored the second, the players were freed from all the burdens of the last few weeks. Suddenly, we picked up every loose ball, all our passes went to our feet, every header went into the corner. That’s how it is. But what we showed right from the start was astounding discipline. The whole team played with great and obvious discipline.”

Question: There’s still the return to come, but realistically, Bayern are through to the quarter-finals. Would anything after that just be a bonus?
Hoeneß: “I’m also assuming we’ll make the quarter-finals now. That would mean we’ve hit our initial target for the Champions League, which was to be among the best eight teams in Europe. That’s basically our first target for the season. Obviously, we want to go on and achieve more.”

Question: Are you pleased that the debate over Jürgen Klinsmann will probably now come to an end?
Hoeneß: “There’s never been any debate at the club. You’ll have to ask the media if they’re ready to end the debate.”