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Nerlinger’s progress report

‘We’ve ended up extremely well-placed’

Christian Nerlinger was in good spirits when he sat down for the Christmas interview to review his first six months as Bayern director of sport. “We’ve ended up extremely well-placed in all three competitions. I’m convinced we’ll hit the ground running after Christmas,” the 36-year-old declared, “I do believe we’ll be very hard for anyone to beat, in Germany and in Europe, when we’re on peak form.”

We present excerpts from the exclusive and comprehensive interview with Nerlinger, in which he discussed his new responsibilities, assessed the current team’s progress, and revealed his thoughts on how the squad might develop during the mid-season period.

Interview: Christian Nerlinger How would you assess your first six months as director of sport?
Nerlinger: “I’d say it’s been very positive. I have far greater responsibilities, and I’m acclimatising to that. Funnily enough, I don’t feel under any extra pressure. It’s due to the way Uli Hoeneß dealt with me from the start. He was always taking me to one side, offering tips and advice, but he never artificially stoked up the pressure by showing off or boasting about all his achievements over the last three decades. Instead, he told me stories about his early years as manager, lots of human interest stories, some of them very funny, and that relieved any pressure.” How satisfied are you overall with the first six months of the football season itself?
Nerlinger: “I’m very satisfied. We’ve ended up extremely well-placed in all three competitions. Obviously, it’s not been a particularly consistent first half of the season, especially at the start. There were so many changes: a new team, a new coach, new players, so it was patchy to start with. It was hard for everyone involved, so it makes it even better that in the crucial phase of the campaign, where a huge amount was at stake against Haifa and Juventus, that the team showed true character, and turned in unbelievable performances. It makes me very confident for the future. There’s a solid core and foundation to the team now, we’re ready to seize the initiative, and that’s a good basis for success.” Why have things gone really well recently?
Nerlinger: “There’s been a number of factors. We had injury problems, but especially in recent weeks, Van Gaal has been able to send out an unchanged team. The players have increasingly taken his tactics on board, and I also think the philosophies favoured by Van Gaal and Bayern Munich have become more aligned too. Van Gaal is a strong and dominant personality, Bayern is Germany’s most successful club, so it was vital to accept the need to sing off the same hymn sheet and tackle the issues together. So I do think there’s been a meeting of minds recently, which certainly contributed to our recent successes.”