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November 10, 2009

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Bayern imploding after early setbacks

WITH Bayern Munich all but out of the Champions League, falling behind in the Bundesliga and its players criticizing management, the German club seems to be imploding.

Bayern was hoping for quiet - and successful - times when it pursued and finally signed experienced Dutch coach Louis van Gaal after a turbulent season under novice Juergen Klinsmann, who was fired with five games to go.

Van Gaal came with a pedigree that includes the Champions League title but a third into the season his position looks wobblier by the day.

After losing 0-2 to Bordeaux last week, Bayern has only an outside chance of advancing to the knockout stage of the Champions league. A 1-1 draw with Schalke in the Bundesliga on Saturday dropped van Gaal's team six points behind the leader Bayer Leverkusen.

On the day of the match, Munich's biggest newspaper, the Sueddeutsche, ran a full-page interview with German defender Philipp Lahm and Bayern's deputy captain, who criticized the front office for its transfer moves and the coach for his constant switches in formation.

Ant then, Italy striker Luca Toni caused more friction by walking out of the stadium after being substituted at halftime and driving away.

General manager Uli Hoeness was livid after the game, saying the content and the timing of Lahm's interview was "not clever" and said that Lahm was "going to regret it."

Not cleared

The interview had not been cleared by the club.

"You can talk about everything with us, but at home behind (closed) doors. He definitely broke the rules," Hoeness said.

Lahm and Toni were both fined undisclosed sums.

In his interview, Lahm touched on topics that are likely being debated hotly by most supporters.

"If you compare our team to the top sides from the Champions League, they have top-class players in seven, eight positions, and we lack that," Lahm said. "If you want to compete with Barcelona, Chelsea, Manchester United, then Bayern needs a playing philosophy. That has to be the goal of the club.

"In the past, the transfers were not always very successful ... clubs like Manchester or Barcelona have a system and then you buy personnel for the system. You bring specific players and then you have a team. Something like that doesn't exist here.

"The club has to say, when a new coach comes, this is how we play ... We have many players that have no position now in a 4-3-3 system that our coach would like to use, for example our strikers. We have really good forwards but if you play 4-3-3, two or three of them are always on the bench.

"If you buy Mario Gomez, then you have to say, OK, we play with two strikers. We played the entire preseason with two strikers. And then suddenly, we get (Arjen) Robben, a great player who fits with us - and who prefers the 4-3-3 system. You can't simply buy players because they are good."


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