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Review of 2009, part 2

Patchy start but promising finish

As 2009 draws to a close, looks back on “a very eventful year with highs and lows,” as FCB chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge described it in his seasonal message to members and fans. In the second part of our review of the calendar year, we examine the first half of the current 2009-10 campaign, which started slowly but picked up pace very promisingly towards the end.

Summer 2009 was a time of radical change at the club, starting right at the top. Louis van Gaal stepped up to the role of head coach on 1 July, declaring himself at home in Munich. “Confident, arrogant, dominant, honest, hard-working, innovative, but warm and family-oriented – that’s my personality,” the boss said at his unveiling, “the culture of the club, the Bavarian approach to life, they fit me like a glove.” FCB’s first Dutch head coach added fellow-countrymen Andries Jonker, Jos van Dijk and Max Reckers to his staff, retaining Hermann Gerland and Walter Junghans from the previous season’s coaching line-up.

As to the squad, six players left Bayern: Lucio, Zé Roberto, Podolski, Oddo, Borowski, and Sagnol. There were seven new faces: Gomez, Tymoshchuk, Olic, Pranjic, Braafheid, Baumjohann and Görlitz. They were joined by Thomas Müller and Holger Badstuber, promoted from the reserves. The five-week pre-season programme featured a training camp in Donaueschingen and nine friendlies as Van Gaal sought out his first-choice team. Munich finished pre-season on a high with victories over AC Milan (4-1) and Manchester United (7-6 on penalties) to claim the inaugural AUDI Cup, and expectations for the new campaign were correspondingly high. However, the quest for a functioning team unit was far from over.

Injuries, Robben, improvement

One reason for the problem was a string of injuries to the likes of Franck Ribéry, Ivica Olic and Luca Toni, who all missed the first competitive fixture, a laboured 3-1 win away to sixth-tier Neckarelz in the DFB Cup first round. Skipper Mark van Bommel and Martin Demichelis were both forced to the sidelines for long spells straight afterwards, and Bayern’s initial results in the Bundesliga reflected the selection issues. Following a 1-1 draw away to Hoffenheim and a 1-1 stalemate at home to Bremen, FCB were beaten 2-1 by promoted Mainz on Matchday 3. “We can’t call two points from three matches a satisfactory situation,” chairman Rummenigge stated.