'We knew what we had to do'
The relief was clear to see on the face of Peter Hermann after the game against Schalke. His Bayern side had just won 2-1 and restored their 18-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga table. And for the first time, it was really his FCB team after he stepped in for the ill Jupp Heynckes on the touchline.
"I was definitely nervous. It was certainly something different," the 65-year-old admitted. He normally prefers to work in the background, but he was thrust into the limelight on Saturday evening. "You could see he was nervous. He even said it, but he did well. He set us up well and struck the right tone," said Sven Ulreich as one of numerous players in praise.
Record for Lewandowski
Bayern put up good resistance in a tough game. Schalke wanted to put the league leaders under pressure with early pressing, but Hermann's side were able relieve that pressure with an early lead. In just the sixth minute, Robert Lewandowski put Bayern ahead following Thomas Müller's shot from 25 yards. It was not just FCB's earliest goal of the season but also a record for the goalscorer, who has now netted in all 11 home league games this season.
Only one man has done that before: Lewandowski's current coach Heynckes, who also scored in the first 11 home games of the season for Borussia Mönchengladbach in 1972/73. "It's great to be on the same level as him," said a delighted Lewandowski. "It's just a shame that he wasn't here today for it." The 29-year-old has the chance to claim the record outright in two weeks' time when Bayern host Hertha Berlin at the Allianz Arena.
The early goal also showed that Bayern would have no problems in the absence of their coach. "We knew what we had to do and what we wanted to do," stated a confident Thomas Müller. Even Franco di Santo's equaliser did little to affect that belief as Müller himself then restored Bayern's lead only a few minutes later.
Congratulations from the boss
FCB then went on to control the game, limiting the visitors to just a handful of chances. Heynckes was following the match from the comfort of his bed and immediately afterwards sent Hermann a text to congratulate him. The 72-year-old was not yet well enough to take training on Sunday, so Hermann again stepped in.
The work on the training pitch appears to suit the assistant much better. "He's always full of passion in training sessions," explained David Alaba, who made his 200th Bundesliga appearance in the game against Schalke – the youngest non-German to reach that milestone. It means preparations for the return to Champions League action begin with everyone in cheerful spirits.
Bayern travel to Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga on Saturday before hosting Besiktas at the Allianz Arena in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie just a few days later. "We have to perform against Besiktas as well," said Ulreich with a view ahead. FCB showed against Schalke that even with surprise absentees, they can still get the job done.