What’s Wrong With Muller?

The Ger­man attacker has been hor­ren­dously out of form for Bay­ern Mu­nich this sea­son

The Economic Times - - Sports: The Great Games - Peter Staunton

Come the end of this sea­son, Bay­ern Mu­nich will be in need of a fresh start. That will re­main true even if they were to win the Bun­desliga and the DFB Pokal – in which they play Wolfs­burg on Tues­day.

Five of their key play­ers are aged 30 or over – in­clud­ing chief at­tack­ing threat Ar­jen Robben and cap­tain Philipp Lahm – and there is a sense of things go­ing stale. Carlo Ancelotti was sup - posed to give Bay­ern a fresh s t a r t a nd a fresh per­spec­tive fol low­ing the in­tense three years the squad ex­pe­ri­enced un­der Pep Guardi­ola. How­ever, Ancelotti’s renowned ma n - ma n a g e ment skills – which have pleased char­ac­ters as di­verse as Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic and Cris­tiano Ron­aldo – have not been enough to in­vig­o­rate Bay­ern this sea­son so far.

They are top of the league and safely through to the last 16 of the Cham­pi­ons League but have not cut the same re­lent­lessly dom­i­nant fig­ure of sea­sons gone by. It is nat­u­ral that such a suc­cess­ful team might ex­pe­ri­ence a drop in in­ten­sity – even psy­cho­log­i­cally – and a whole­sale shakeup might be re­quired to make Bay­ern hun­gry again.

The strug­gle to adapt from Guardi­ola’s plans to Ancelotti’s has been no more ap­par­ent than in Thomas Muller. Bay­ern chief ex­ec­u­tive Karl-Heinz Rum­menigge re­vealed ear­lier this sea­son that Manchester United made a world-record bid of €100m for Muller dur­ing the sum­mer of 2015. The ex-Ger­many in­ter­na­tional warned that the Bun­desliga could be “emp­tied out” by English cash and the club stood re­sis­tant to the bid. The truth of the mat­ter is that Muller looks a long way from a €100m player right now. He may have had the odd conf lict here and there with Guardi­ola – over tac­tics and his role in the team – but there can be no dis­pute that the Cata­lan got more out of Muller than Ancelotti is cur­rently get­ting.

At times this sea­son – and es­pe­cially since the turn of the year – Muller has ap­peared out of sorts and un­sure of his role in the team. A lot of that has to do with Ancelotti’s fail­ure to im­pose any sort of col­lec­tive iden­tity on this team. Bay­ern are re­liant on mo­ments of magic – from a Robben or a Robert Le­wandowski – to get them­selves ahead or out of trou­ble. What­ever you thought about Guardi­ola’s Bay­ern – bor­ing or not – it was clear that in place was a clear, co­her­ent struc­ture. They dom­i­nated games as a team; not only through the strength of their in­di­vid­ual tal­ent. Here, Muller was key.

He ad­mit­ted ear­lier this month that when Bay­ern aren’t play­ing well he can’t play well. He needs a well-drilled, ef­fi­cient team around him in or­der to bring out his best. That is not to ex­cuse his own poor play.

To date he’s only scored one Bun­desliga goal in 16 out­ings and boasts the worst shot con­ver­sion rate in the league at un­der 4 per cent. He was 999 min­utes with­out a league goal be­fore net­ting against Wolfs­burg in De­cem­ber.

De­spite his tra­vails, there is no sug­ges­tion than Muller is un­happy in Mu­nich nor is he thought to be seek­ing a fresh chal­lenge at this stage. Ancelotti might not be pleased wit h Muller’s out­put ei­ther, but he re­mains happy with his in­put. He re­gards Muller as a team player above all and when Bay­ern click he should come good.

The strug­gle to adapt from Guardi­ola’s plans to Ancelotti’s has been no more ap­par­ent than in Thomas Muller

ThomasMuller —Reuters

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