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Exclusive interview

Gerland: I cry for joy when I watch us play

“It's offside when the Tiger whistles!” Thomas Müller reminded his team-mates before a practice match. And Hermann ‘Tiger’ Gerland duly whistled: even in his 19th year with FC Bayern, Pep Guardiola’s assistant is as alert as ever. “I enjoy every day,” Gerland told fcbayern.de.

He is likely to enjoy Friday even more than normal, because FC Bayern play their final winter friendly away to VfL Bochum, the Ruhr Valley outfit where Gerland spent many long years as a one–club player and then coach. In our exclusive interview Gerland explains the background to the match, gives his view of the Bayern stars’ current form, and explains why FCB remains his dream club.

Interview: Hermann Gerland

fcbayern.de: Hermann Gerland, FC Bayern returned to the Säbener Strasse from the warmth of Doha on Monday. Have you reacclimatised yet?
Hermann Gerland: It was no problem because it wasn't as hot as usual in Doha. But it was a very good training camp, the food was outstanding, as were the training conditions and the hotel. We worked well together as a team, and we've come home with no major injuries. We're well-prepared.

David Alaba and Holger Badstuber have resumed the squad programme, with Mehdi Benatia also rejoining the team on Wednesday. What's your impression of the three?
Holger was injured for a long time and still has a little way to go, but he's on track and already playing his fantastic passes again. David is a machine who gives it 100 percent every day. Mehdi was barely able to take part at the training camp and will need a little more time.

You have a reputation for toughness but the players seem to love you.
I have a very good relationship with the lads. They listen to me because they’re aware I know what I'm talking about. I don't tell fairy tales. If I notice something I give it to them straight.

Is it the same with Mitchell Weiser? He made an excellent impression in Doha...
I said this to him a little while ago: Mitch, you've been asleep for the last two years. But you've been going for it for the last six months and you've demonstrated why FC Bayern brought you in as a youth player. He’s heading in the right direction.

We can say the same about Gianluca Gaudino. When did you spot him for the first time?
Five or six years ago when my wife was working with his mother. She said to me: Hermann, we should take a look at Gaudino junior. After the match I said: he'll play in the Bundesliga. People around me giggled and said I didn't have a clue, but the lad’s gone on and made his debut at the age of 17, with FC Bayern too! Obviously he still has to grow and build up his physique, but he has all the attributes Pep Guardiola is looking for.

How much do Bayern miss Philipp Lahm?
He's one of the world's best players. He's maintained an incredible level for the last 12 years, but he's still never been Player of the Year - and that’s a catastrophe! He’s outstanding in 55 out of 60 matches per season, but that's never been recognised. He’s not spectacular but you can play him wherever you want and he'll be flawless.

Bayern play VfL Bochum on Friday. That's your home town so it must be a bit special…
Of course. I knew VfL were in financial difficulty, so I went to Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Matthias Sammer and asked if they could do me a favour. FC Bayern have helped lots of clubs in the past, and we quickly set up the game in Bochum this time round. I was delighted of course.

You've retained strong links to the Ruhr Valley region.
I love going there and I always meet up with lots of friends and former team–mates. Bochum is my home and I'm looking forward to the match, although it would be even nicer if the clubs in the Bundesliga again soon.

You spent your entire playing career in Bochum, not something that happens very often these days.
Naturally I could have moved and I might have earned a bit more elsewhere, but I always felt settled in Bochum. My best mates are there and it's where I turned my hobby into a job.

You've now spent a total of 19 years with FC Bayern. Did Bochum never try to bring you back?
On the day we sealed the 2013 league title with a 1–0 victory in Frankfurt, [VfL supervisory board member and former Bundesliga player] Martin Kree  did give me a call. I said to him: Martin, there were times when I'd have really liked to work in Bochum again, but now I'm at the best club in the world. I enjoy every day because I'm working with the best players in the world. Every training session is a pleasure and I look forward to it every morning. I'd lose all of that.

Will you return to Bochum when you retire?
I don't know. I feel really good at FC Bayern. I'll serve the club and of course live here for as long as I still have this job.

You've seen countless mid-season training periods, so what’s your gut telling you about the rest of the season?
With all three of my children my gut feel was that I'd get a son, but I ended up with three daughters. So I no longer follow my gut. We have an unbelievably good team, a first-class dressing room, first-class management and a genius coach. I'm so thrilled when I watch us play and I have tears of joy in my eyes. But there's one more thing I'd like to say.

Fire away!
We've [Germany – Ed.] won the World Cup and five of the world champions are products of our youth section. If Holger hadn't been injured it would have been six, all of them leading figures! I think our youth section often doesn't get the credit it deserves.

David Alaba is another FCB youth product, but from a German point of view he has the wrong passport … 
When he was in the U-17s I said to him: David, do me a favour and don't play for Austria! You won't win anything. If you spend five years here and don't play for Austria we might be able to fit you in [to the Germany team]. But it didn't work out that way (laughs).

So the youngsters don't always automatically take your advice!
Hmm, if somebody had said to me at that age I should choose to play for Austria he'd have heard a few choice words. What I'm trying to say is that it was obvious David Alaba would have a great career from a very early stage.

And what do you expect from Alaba and Co in Bochum on Friday?
They should show the wonderful west of the country how good we are at football in Munich. Nothing more than that (laughs).