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The pride and the passion

Strong show of unity from the Bayern family

Uli Hoeneß quickly reeled off a string of figures, before removing his reading glasses and striding past last season’s glittering array of trophies on his way to the speakers’ lectern. “Right here we are,” he intoned into the microphone. The 2,807 club members gathered in the Olympic Hall in Munich readied themselves for the President’s speech. Hoeneß had spent the earlier part of the meeting acting the part of a good, neutral chairman, soberly running through the agenda from his seat on the podium. But suddenly, the audience was treated to Uli Hoeneß in vintage form.

The former General Manager delivered an impromptu, emotionally charged speech, bringing the meeting to fever pitch time and time again. “I appeal to you all not to give up, even in a relatively hopeless situation. Bayern Munich must always remain Bayern Munich, fighting to the bitter end, and seeing just how much we can achieve,” he declared, addressing the membership in general, and Louis van Gaal and his three captains Mark van Bommel, Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger in particular.

In a personal message to the latter, Hoeneß emphasised the “unbelievable importance of you remaining with Bayern.” A standing ovation and tumultuous applause greeted Hoeneß’ appeal to the FCB youth product, who has yet to decide on his future beyond 30 June 2012. The FCB President peppered his speech to the membership with calls for resolve and perseverance, and made a specific promise to Van Gaal: “Louis, you know we’ll give you all the support you need to hit our targets.”

Hoeneß recently criticised the head coach in a TV interview, but has publicly accepted his actions were “borderline, although carefully considered." Van Gaal enjoyed a very warm and friendly reception from the meeting. “He’s a special character and highly emotional. It does mean dealings with him aren’t always easy. But he’s a first-class coach, and we can win lots of trophies with him," observed chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.