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19th Oct 2018

Bayern Munich accuse press of ‘disrespect’ in bizarre press conference

Simon Lloyd

As it went, there was no shock Arsene Wenger announcement at Bayern Munich on Friday morning (of course there wasn’t)

With Bayern enduring a difficult start to life under Niko Kovač this season, their decision to call a press conference at relatively short notice had fuelled speculation that Wenger – who had made it known that he was ready to return to management – may be about to replace the Croat.

Instead, Kovač appeared before reporters, flanked by club president Uli Hoeness, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic. It soon became obvious that Kovač’s job was under no immediate threat and that the purpose of the press conference was actually for the club to make clear that they were unhappy as the media’s treatment of the club’s players in recent weeks.

Bayern are winless in their last four games and sit sixth in the Bundesliga – four points adrift of leaders, Borussia Dortmund. This, but also criticism of their players in Germany’s back-to-back losses to the Netherlands and France over the international break, prompted an extraordinary response from the German champions – Rummenigge even threatening legal action.

“We met on Monday after Germany’s international match against the Netherlands,” Rummenigge explained. “We have decided we will no longer accept this style of journalism.

“What we have had to read in recent times has nothing to do with performance, it was a settlement with individual players. Today we will protect our players, our coaches and also the club.

“Today is an important day as we inform you that we will no longer tolerate this derogatory and derisive reporting.

“I have no words for what I have read about Manuel Neuer. I would like to remind you that Manuel was world goalkeeper of the year four times.

“And if I have to read that our central defenders Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng play ‘old men football’, I think: ‘Come on, guys, I want to remind you of Article 1 of the Constitution – the dignity of a person is unassailable’.”

“It’s about time the biggest club in Germany takes a clear stance on this issue,” added Hoeness, echoing Rummenigge’s comments.

Hoeness, the man who said Germany would be better off without “poor excuse of a footballer” Mesut Ozil after the World Cup, made it clear that he felt the criticism of individual players had been unfair. Despite this, he also criticised Juan Bernat, explaining he was sold after almost “singlehandedly cost Bayern their shot at the Champions League” last season when they played Sevilla.

One reporter later pointed out the irony in Hoeness’ stance given his comments on Ozil. The 66-year-old, who served an 18-month jail term for tax evasion, responded that he regretted his choice of words but not the sentiment.

Bayern return to action at Wolfsburg tomorrow afternoon. Heaven forbid anyone writes something negative about them if they end up on the end of another defeat.