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Heynckes: I’m delighted to be at Bayern

Fully 822 days after his last match in charge of a Bundesliga club, Jupp Heynckes made a successful return to the German top flight on Saturday, as the Bayern caretaker boss saw his new charges defeat his former club Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-1 at the Allianz Arena. Interviewed after the game, the 63-year-old expressed satisfaction with the long spells of “lively and inventive” play from his team.

The seasoned coaching veteran said he had felt no major surges of emotion on his comeback. “I’m taking it as it comes. I’m delighted to be at Bayern.” With four more games to go, Heynckes feels “there are a few things we can improve,” as he told reporters after the final whistle. “We’ll work intensively over the next week, not just talking about the flaws in our game, but also eliminating them in training.”

Jupp Heynckes after his Bundesliga comeback

Jupp Heynckes, what do you feel after returning to the dugout for the first time in more than two years?
Heynckes: “I’m a down-to-earth person, very realistic, and I’m taking it as it comes. I’m delighted to be at Bayern, and I’m happy to lend a hand. I’ve always maintained good relations with the board, and obviously with my personal friend Uli Hoeneß. I’m enjoying the work with the lads, and it’s obvious the players enjoyed working with me this week. I’m really pleased it’s gone well. But one thing is clear: we’ll have to improve if we want to qualify directly for the Champions League.”

In what state is the team you’ve taken over?
Heynckes: “I’ve never come in and taken over a team during the season before. What I’ve come across isn’t relevant, what matters is the work we got through last week, and that the players enjoyed it. There was plenty of banter, but the mood was focused too. The important thing now is to analyse the match so I can tell the players what I did and didn’t like. We’ll work intensively over the next week, not just talking about the flaws in our game, but also eliminating them in training.”

What have you changed in the couple of training sessions you’ve supervised so far?
Heynckes: “I’m not a coach who comes in after 30 games and says – you’ll immediately recognise my influence. I’m trying to deploy my knowledge, and make sure the players understand the footballing component of our training sessions. Everything else was already there. The team worked hard and well in the past too, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out, no matter what you do.”

Do you think you’ve been able to help the players mentally?
Heynckes: “I was pleased with my players’ movement in the first half, they were lively and inventive. We had more space and made more chances after half-time. We played well at times, but we have areas for improvement.”

How would you rate Bayern’s chances in the title race now?
Heynckes: “Wolfsburg are still the most likely to take the title. Our target is to qualify directly for the Champions League. We’ll have to take everything else match-by-match.”

That’ll mean a lot of pressure in the run-in…
Heynckes: “You don’t feel pressure at my age, although obviously there’s a certain inner tension. If you don’t have that, you’re not switched on. If you’ve prepared well, and you have the feeling the team has done everything it can to perform and perform well, you can sit and watch calmly enough.”

Franz Beckenbauer said you’d be the ideal coach if you were 10 or 15 years younger...
Heynckes: “You don’t have to take everything Franz says at face value. I didn’t come across too badly for a 63-year-old, did I?”