Müller: Wembley is a long time ago
The fans have just chosen him as their Player of the Month for February, while teammates, coaches and the board have been speaking highly of him. In the latest edition of the Bayern Magazine, Thomas Müller has his say. fcbayern.com has published the interview with the FCB captain in excerpts:
Thomas, you've been on a successful run since the return of Jupp Heynckes. The media are constantly making comparisons with the treble season in 2012/13. Do you feel the spirit of 2013?
Müller: "It's easy to make this comparison. Obviously all the fans are longing for something great to happen again, although we in the club are being realistic. Of course we also have the highest goals. We all want to get the Champions League final. It's now five years since the last one but you can't plan that."
You won 5-0 in the last 16 first leg against Besiktas. What are you expecting in the second leg next week?
Müller: "We're aware of the fact that Leipzig also had problems in Istanbul because of the atmosphere and lost. But it's 5-0, we're FC Bayern, we'll get through, we have to! In the first leg, even before the red card, there was lots of space in attack so we want to look for our opportunities again in the second leg. We're not going there to protect our lead. We're looking forward to the atmosphere and hope it's a good game."
When James Rodriguez came to FC Bayern, many saw him as competition for you, but recently you've been impressing together on the pitch. Why is that?
Müller: "The situation was never realistically analysed. Just because he plays in a similar position and was Ancelotti's favourite player, people put two and two together. But the fact is that James has slotted into the team brilliantly. In fact he's only really blossomed under Jupp Heynckes and he gave a lot to the team during the autumn. We're playing well together, not least because he's a player who likes distributing the ball and I'm more of a receiver."
Jupp Heynckes has been praising you again recently: "There's not a player like him in the whole of Europe!" Is that quote already hung up on your wall?
Müller: "You should always apply a filter to everything that's written and said about you and reflect on it. That goes for both praise and criticism. I know I have qualities that the team need – otherwise I wouldn't have been a member of it for so long. If I measure myself against the world's best in individual competencies like speed, finishing and tackling, then I'm maybe only above average. But if you take the whole package with my movement and my instinct for being in the right place, it become valuable. You have to do the right things at the right time. The mixture works."
How do you take praise like that?
Müller: "When he came back, Jupp Heynckes made it clear from the start that he was going to encourage me. That's good for me and I like to get praise, no question. But above all it's the performance criterion that matters, no one gets a free pass – certainly not at FC Bayern. It's a cliché but you're only as good as your last game. You can't rest on one performance. In the first leg against Besiktas you saw that the coach sometimes has to make tough decisions when everyone's available."
You've won everything – and at the age of 28 you're only just reaching your prime.
Müller: "At least that's what I've always been told [laughs]. It wasn't that long ago that if you were a 30 year-old in the national team you still had to be in the middle during circle games."
What do you still expect from yourself?
Müller: "My contract runs until 2021, which is a long time in football. The aim for all of us here is success, including in the Champions League. Our generation is not content with 2013, we want to give it another go. Wembley is a long time ago now and that rankles me."