"We'll be the hunted again"
A day after beginning pre-season on Monday afternoon, two training sessions were planned for FC Bayern on Tuesday. Yet coach Niko Kovac only has eight first-team players available to him at the moment prior to the return of the squad’s international players to the fold on Friday. Fiete Arp was the only one of the three new signings to take to the pitch either side of his official unveiling as an FCB player, allowing the 19-year-old to be able to get an idea over the first two days of what to expect in Munich.
“We won the double and want to defend that,” declared Kovac after the presentation of the young striker. “We’re working at a club where the ambitions are very high, and that’s the case for every player and employee.” That means the goals are “just as clear as they were last year,” according to Kovac. As well as the domestic competitions, FCB above all want “perform much better than last year” in the Champions League.
However, Kovac knows that a repeat of the double “will be very difficult because other teams are making moves too.” The 47-year-old coach is therefore expecting a tough race in the coming season as FC Bayern strive for an eighth consecutive league title. “We’ll be the hunted again in the Bundesliga. We’ll have to push ourselves to the limit in every game because everyone gives 100 per cent against us.”
Kovac hopes for reinforcements
The record champions’ squad currently consists of 17 outfield players and four goalkeepers. For Kovac, it’s too few, especially with Arp and Alphonso Davies still so young. The coach is therefore hopeful of one or two further reinforcement. “We’re looking at what the transfer market offers up. We have to be patient. I’m sure what our bosses have in mind will ensure we’re competitive on all fronts and can achieve our goals.”
Kovac sees particular need for greater bodies up front. “We’ve lost two wide players in Arjen [Robben] and Franck [Ribery] who we need to try and adequately replace.” Of course there is also the need to compensate for injuries, as last season showed. “We had poor luck at the start with three serious injuries. With the workload we have during the season, you need to assume the worst as a coach. You can’t think you’ll come through an entire campaign damage free at this level.”
However, the head coach praised the “excellent transfer” of his new assistant Hansi Flick, who he already knows from their time together at Salzburg. “I’m really pleased Hansi is with us now,“ Kovac said, praising the 2014 World Cup-winning assistant coach technically and personally as a “very valuable person”.