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Interview: Nerlinger

‘We’re very hungry for trophies’

Former FCB midfielder Christian Nerlinger took over as Bayern director of sport last July. Ten months later, the club is on the verge of an historic treble. Ahead of the climax to the campaign, Uli Hoeneß’s successor spoke to about the meaning of trophies as a player and as an official, the key moments in the season which is about to end, and World Cup nominees Thomas Müller and Holger Badstuber.

Interview: Christian Nerlinger Bayern will receive the championship shield in Berlin this Saturday. Not bad for your first season as director of sport…
Nerlinger: “Yes, it’s a good start. The most important thing was just how convincing the team has been, and how they’ve entertained the crowd. It’s good to be rewarded for that. We’ve always said the league title is the priority, because it’s the most fair competition. So being presented with the shield on Saturday is wonderful for everyone here.” You won league titles twice with Bayern, and once in Scotland with Rangers. What’s the difference, now you’re an official?
Nerlinger: “I think there’s more of a release of pressure as a player. You’re expending far more adrenalin when you’re out on the field. Obviously, I’m delighted now, but I think it’s more intense as a player. The players do the work on the field, and obviously make the biggest contribution.” You could win two more trophies in the next two weeks. What’s possible against Werder and Inter?
Nerlinger: “I think the hallmark of our team is the will to win. Inter will be just as confident and hopeful as we are, because they can still win two more trophies. But I’m optimistic, because the team’s come on so well. Our team is strong mentally, and in terms of character.” Bayern could well be without Franck Ribéry in the Champions League final. What do you think of UEFA’s decision to uphold the ban?
Nerlinger: “The basic problem is how to evaluate this foul – and it was definitely a foul. Anyone who knows anything about football will acknowledge that it wasn’t deliberate, it was ‘just’ a foul. Franck was a split second late with his challenge. I can’t understand the decision, which is why we’re launching a second appeal.” A treble looked highly unlikely back in November. What do you think was the turning point?
Nerlinger: “I think there were two moments, both in the Champions League. There was the 4-1 win in Turin, and the home meeting with Manchester United. Prior to that, we’d dropped Bundesliga points to Frankfurt and Stuttgart, those were moments of crisis. But we got a real boost from the United game. Those were the two most important games of the season. There’s also the fact that we weren’t exactly unlucky at decisive moments – I’m thinking of Juventus’s game in Bordeaux. If Juve had won, we’d have been out of the Champions League. But all in all, it’s the product of hard work. Everyone’s given 100 percent in every training exercise, so you’d expect something to come together. It’s been obvious there’s a defining influence behind it.”