Rummenigge: This combination is unique
Sometimes pictures really are worth a thousand words, which is why Karl-Heinz Rummenigge included a video in his speech at FC Bayern's Annual General Meeting at the Audi Dome. "I'd like to do it differently this year," the FC Bayern chairman explained at the beginning of his address, "I'll show you a film. That's more emotional and atmospheric." The spine-tingling footage, featuring scenes from the Bundesliga triumph, the DFB Cup success and the best Champions League highlights, made the 7,152 members cheer on a regular basis.
"If I were to assign grades for the 2015/16 season I'd give the coach and the team an A," Rummenigge revealed. The fourth German championship title in a row is "a historic achievement," according to the chairman. "Even in our greatest eras we were lucky to win the championship three times on the bounce at the most. The team have made club history." Rummenigge also praised the DFB Cup triumph over Dortmund and said the Champions League displays were "utterly respectable. We've advanced to the last four for the fifth time in a row. That too is unprecedented in terms of continuity at FC Bayern."
Rummenigge mentioned an uncanny figure: the German record champions have won 12 titles since 2012! "These are incredible numbers. I can say without exaggeration that we have the right to be proud of what our coaches and players have achieved." The former world-class striker explicitly thanked Pep Guardiola, who "was a strong and very successful FC Bayern coach for three years. Even if we didn't win the Champions League in this period the years we had with Pep were fantastic."
'Win together, lose together'
The Bavarians hope Carlo Ancelotti will continue the success the club has enjoyed in the last few years. Rummenigge praised the new head coach, who was also present at the Audi Dome: the Italian is "very much down to earth, serious and canny. He has great quality and great experience." Rummenigge also stressed that Ancelotti is the only active coach "to have won the Champions League three times. These are great references. But we'd make a mistake if we automatically expected a fourth title from him," declared the chairman. "We long for it, that's clear. But we should go about the task step by step. It gets going for real from the last sixteen onwards."
FC Bayern have advanced to the knockout rounds in Europe's premier club competition despite the 3-2 defeat in Rostov and second place in their group, but Rummenigge believes there is no need for concern. "Carlo approached me after the match on Wednesday and apologised for the defeat. I told him, Carlo, we win together, we lose together here. You have our full trust." The Italian has "the wonderful talent to spark everybody. We'll win titles! FCB's motto is this: all for one and one for all." Rummenigge has no doubts regarding the quality of the squad: "The quality of the team is very good. Two defeats in Dortmund and in the ice of Rostov don't change that," the 61-year-old declared.
Rummenigge also specifically thanked Matthias Sammer. The former sporting director left FC Bayern at his own request in July. "Matthias was an important person within the structure of FC Bayern as a whole, there's no question about that," Rummenigge acknowledged. "We tried everything to keep him here, but he chose to set himself new priorities in his life. We have to accept that." He also thanked former Bayern pros Mario Götze, Sebastian Rode, Medhi Benatia, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Patrick Weihrauch, Ivan Lucic and Serdar Tasci. "We should wish these players all the best even if they're playing for our rivals now." Rummenigge is pleased with the new signings: Mats Hummels "has great character", and as for Renato Sanches, "we have to be patient, but he's going to be an important player for us."
The FC Bayern junior team youngsters also need time to develop, but Rummenigge is optimistic in the long run. "I see light at the end of the tunnel again. There are promising talents coming through," according to the chairman. "There will be great talents who'll have the chance to be the new Lahm, Müller or Alaba." FC Bayern aim to keep up the two-pillar system: "We sign crucial players like Robert Lewandowski or Arjen Robben, but we also aspire to nurture our own talents. That's going to happen in a sustained way in the years to come." Rummenigge defined the formula for success: "Good, aggressive scouting paired with the best coaches, both merged with the opportunities the new academy brings. At the end of the day this formula will mean we'll be able to welcome some of our own players to our first team."
'Hard, focused and serious work'
Before deputy chairman Jan-Christian Dreesen presented the outstanding balance sheet for the fiscal year, Rummenigge expressed his joy at FC Bayern München AG's financial development ever since it was separated from the members' club in 2002. Turnover has increased by 400 percent since then. "This combination is what makes FCB unique: we have the greatest success in our sporting endeavours, and we pay for it all by ourselves. We pay everything through our own efforts. And the main thing is we're one of the very, very few clubs at the top of Europe that are completely independent, and at which you, dear members, have a decisive say." Another crucial factor for the positive development is the "necessary" internationalisation which "strengthens FC Bayern's local roots financially," added Rummenigge. "If we restricted ourselves to our local roots our financial and sporting success would soon be over." For all that, "Mia san mia is an ace, and that includes our international activities."
On the eve of the top Bundesliga clash against Leverkusen, Rummenigge issued a rallying call. "A new era is about to begin," the chairman announced. "Everyone else has chased us over the last few years. Now we're doing the chasing! We'll get through hard, focused and serious work, aimed at presenting you the championship shield again after Matchday 34. Our goal is to achieve this satisfying outcome again this year." And if FC Bayern win their fifth consecutive Bundesliga title the next Annual General Meeting will yield even more emotional video footage.