Munich - FC Bayern München continue to plot their own unique path in German football. After a record-breaking Bundesliga triumph in 2013/14, the Bavarians are on course to seal an even quicker title win this term after another spellbinding Hinrunde.
"I love a culture of discussion"
The reasons they are so strong this season are manifold, but one of those is certainly the influence of sporting director Matthias Sammer, whose arrival in 2012 has coincided with one of the most dominant spells in the club's chequered history.
In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, the 47-year-old gives his views on how the Reds have performed in 2014/15 so far, his role as a figure of authority at one of the world's most successful clubs and what Bayern's current crop of talent can achieve in the months to come.
bundesliga.com: Matthias Sammer, a few eyebrows were raised when you of all people told the FC Bayern players to “do nothing” over the winter break. You're well-known for your attention to detail, so what did you mean by that?
Matthias Sammer: If you work in the sports industry, the important thing is always the organisation of your performances. What's also important, though, is having an eye on everything around you. After a long first half of the season, with league, cup and Champions League games, we now have some time to gather our strength again and recharge the batteries. Let’s not forget the sensational win for Germany at the World Cup back in the summer, which a lot of Bayern players were involved in. That took an enormous toll on our players and the club.
bundesliga.com: Were Bayern so strong in the first half of the season because of the club's attention to every detail?
Sammer: I would say so, and that shouldn’t change just because things are going well at the moment. Being successful right now doesn’t mean you’ll be successful in the future. Constantly questioning your performance and observing what you do is the basis for professional work. Everyone at FC Bayern works that way and success is always down to teamwork.
bundesliga.com: Can that ‘constant questioning’ sometimes be uncomfortable?
Sammer: I love discussion, a healthy culture of debate. In that way, you make sure that FC Bayern is always the main focus. You need that type of discussion especially during the good times. Considering every detail and improving things where you can helps you enjoy your work more.
Getting behind the coach
bundesliga.com: That approach seems to fit in well with the coaching philosophy of Pep Guardiola.
Sammer: Everyone at FC Bayern thinks that way and it compliments everyone else. Pep Guardiola has done an immeasurable amount to ensure that the team and every player has developed unbelievable ambition and wants to continue to improve himself. He’s taken the team with him in that and he’s doing really impressive work here.
bundesliga.com: You must be delighted with how the season has gone so far: 11 points clear of second place, undefeated and conceding just four goals…
Sammer: The Bundesliga is massively important to us and obviously we want to be right up there at the top, but more important than the result is the way you play football. After a successful game, you have the result. But when you go into another game three or four days later and you start thinking about the previous game, you don’t think about the result. You think about the feeling you had playing that game.
bundesliga.com: Would you agree that the sternest tests are yet to come?
Sammer: The next big test is always the next game, irrespective of the opponent. We want to have the best preparation we can have for every team we play.
bundesliga.com: Does that mean you’ll do exactly the same in the second half of the season and finish the campaign undefeated?
Sammer: (laughs) No club in the world can plan for that. So far, the players have done a very good job in executing how Pep Guardiola and the club envisage playing football, and we want to continue working on that. But don’t believe for a second that every Bundesliga game isn’t a new challenge. This isn’t considered one of the strongest leagues in the world for nothing, and even the team that is top of the table at the halfway mark can’t forget that. We can be happy with a lot of things right now but we still have a way to go.
Interview by Oliver Trust