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Exclusive interview

Nerlinger: Van Gaal is unique in every respect

The Säbener Strasse is a quiet place at present. Fifteen of the first-team squad are away on international duty, leaving just four outfield players and three goalkeepers in Munich. Director of sport Christian Nerlinger is also less busy now, as the transfer window closed at midnight on Tuesday, ending any further speculation about further transfer activity by the German double winners.

Speaking exclusively to, Nerlinger explained why it has been one of the club’s quietest summers in the transfer market for a long while. The 37-year-old also discussed coach Louis van Gaal’s philosophy, the state of play regarding Mario Gomez, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry, and Bayern’s start to the season, with two wins and a draw from three competitive fixtures so far.

Interview: Christian Nerlinger Are you glad the transfer window has finally slammed shut?
Christian Nerlinger: Glad isn’t the word, because we weren’t particularly up tight about it. Obviously, there were lots of rumours, and a few people couldn’t understand why we weren’t heavily involved. But right from the start, we’ve declared our faith in the current team. When you look at what Schalke have been up to in the last 24 hours… that was a flurry of transfers like I’ve never seen before.

So you’re satisfied with the squad as it is?
Yes. I think we have a good, balanced squad and a competitive team, and I think we can be very successful again this season.

Louis van Gaal even feels the squad could be a little smaller.
Van Gaal’s philosophy is to inform every player of his chances and future perspective. It might well be tough for a few of the players this season, but every one of them has the chance to fight his way into the team. The situation does change in the course of a long season. And the players know what it means to be at Bayern. They don’t want to flee, they want to stay here and prove themselves. I think that’s a very good reaction.

And competition is ultimately good for the club…
That’s true, but if the competition’s too intense, it can be counter-productive, especially if you end up with too many players who basically have little or no chance of playing. You always need to find the balance.

Van Gaal tells each player, openly and unmistakably, what his chances are. Have you ever witnessed that before, during or since your playing days?
No, I’ve not seen anything like it. Van Gaal is unique in every respect. But the idea isn’t to shut the players up. The coach is always trying to provoke a reaction from his players. He wants his players to prove to him that they absolutely deserve a place in the team.