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Nerlinger’s perspective

‘You sense we can win things’

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On day four of the Dubai training camp, Louis van Gaal handed his weary men the morning off and the chance to catch up on some sleep. However, some members of the party were up and about early on Thursday morning. Director of sport Christian Nerlinger, keeper Jörg Butt, physios Gerry Hoffmann and Stephan Weickert, and sports psychologist Philipp Laux met up at nine with the aim of visiting the world’s tallest building.

“It’s very impressive, and aesthetically pleasing too,” said Nerlinger, admiring the 828m tall tower, renamed Burj Khalifa at the official opening ceremony last Monday, as it glittered in the morning sun. The edifice contains a hotel, luxury apartments and offices – and a viewing platform, of course. The FCB group made their way up to the 124th floor for that very purpose.

“The players have already told me how pleased they are that the coach isn’t Felix Magath,” Nerlinger grinned. The former Bayern boss is infamous for ordering his players up and down stairs as a form of fitness exercise. “This would have been a fantastic challenge for him,” said Nerlinger. In Magath’s absence, the party opted for the lift, and reached the viewing level in around 60 seconds.

At a height of some 450 metres, the men from Munich surveyed the breathtaking view. The unmistakeable sail-shaped Burj al Arab luxury hotel and the artificial islands known as “The World” loomed large through the morning mist, and the Dubai skyline seemed close enough to reach down and touch. Directly below, the team hotel and its associated site looked like a model village.

Liberated and relaxed

The group’s gaze was inevitably drawn to distant horizons – and thoughts of a sporting nature followed suit. “You sense we could win things this year,” Nerlinger said as he reflected on the training camp so far. “It’s very enjoyable watching the lads train. They’re focusing on their work, and they’re laughing a lot away from the field too,” the official reported.