Created on 27-04-2009 at 00:00 AM
The Grünwald stadium, where the Bayern reserves play their home games, frequently resounds to chants in praise of Hermann ‘Tiger’ Gerland, the long-serving FCB II head coach. Such is the home faithful’s awe and reverence, they even refer to the venerable ground as the Hermann-Gerland-Arena. The 54-year-old long ago achieved cult status among the club’s devoted local followers.
Gerland coached the FCB second team from 1990 to 1995, returning to the position he continues to hold today in 2001. He was also first team assistant coach in 1991-2, a job he is now taking on again in a caretaker role. The man who made his name as a player and coach in his home city of Bochum is only too delighted to help out his adopted club in any way possible. “I’m a Bochum lad and I always will be. But I’m at Bayern Munich because it’s an outstanding club,” he says.
Born to coach
Gerland has coached many senior teams, including VfL Bochum, FC Nürnberg and Arminia Bielefeld, but feels his talents have found their true home at the Bayern II helm. “Bringing players on is the thing I do best,” he himself observes. In many respects, and despite third division championship titles with Tennis Borussia Berlin in 1998 and FCB II in 2004, and a run to the DFB German Cup final with Bochum in 1988, his greatest coaching achievement is the long list of established Bundesliga stars who spent time under his wing as youngsters.
Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Zvjezdan Misimovic, Piotr Trochowski, Paolo Guerrero and Mats Hummels are just a handful of the players who learned the trade under Gerland’s (in)famously demanding regime. “It’s always a good feeling when one of my players makes it in the Bundesliga,” reflects Gerland, “and it’s an even better feeling when one of my players makes it at Bayern.”
Hard but fair
The father of three, whose consuming passion away from work is horse breeding, is renowned for confronting the hugely talented youths under his command with brutal but always honest assessments. “I try and help the players improve every day,” says Gerland, admitting he expects a certain “obsession” from his players, mirroring his own approach to his responsibilities. Not for nothing is Gerland nicknamed “Tiger”. Anyone who has seen him prowling and growling from the Grünwald stadium touchlines will immediately understand why.