BERLIN (AP) — Bayern Munich CEO Oliver Kahn, sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić and team coach Julian Nagelsmann have all criticized injured captain Manuel Neuer for publicly expressing his disappointment with the club.
The dispute centers on Bayern’s decision to fire goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalović on Jan. 23 due to what Salihamidžić said were “differences over the ways and means of working together”.
The firing was described by Neuer as “the worst thing I’ve experienced in my career” during an interview that appeared in the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and The Athletic website Friday.
Kahn told news agency DPA that Neuer’s comments do “neither justice to him as captain nor the values of Bayern” and he criticized the goalkeeper for their timing “ahead of very important games.”
Salihamidžić accused Neuer of “putting his personal interests above those of the club”, while Nagelsmann on Sunday referred to Kahn’s statement and added his own criticism of Neuer.
“From Manuel’s perspective, I wouldn’t have given the interview, especially when he says in the same interview that the club is the priority. It doesn’t help calm things down,” said Nagelsmann.
Tapalović, who joined Bayern with Neuer from Schalke in 2011, did not get on with Nagelsmann, who must now contend with an openly unhappy goalkeeper – and possibly more.
Kicker magazine reported Sunday that several team colleagues had expressed their solidarity with Neuer.
“We see him every day in rehab, we say hello every day,” Thomas Müller said after Bayern’s 4-2 win in Wolfsburg on Sunday. “We have personalities in the club, the biggest club in Germany, national team players and legends like Manu. And of course a couple of things happened, everyone has their own point of view. But we don’t let the football business influence us as players.”
Tapalović’s dismissal came just over a month after Neuer broke his leg in a skiing accident and was taken as a personal blow by the 37-year-old goalkeeper. Neuer is out for the rest of the season.
“For me it was a blow as I was already on the ground,” Neuer told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and The Athletic. “I felt my heart was being torn out.”
Neuer, who faced a hostile reaction from Bayern fans when he joined the club from Schalke, said Tapalović’s dismissal was even more damaging for him personally.
“Everyone in our goalkeeper group was torn apart. People burst into tears,” Neuer said in his first public comments on the matter since the coach was fired. “Toni was loved by the whole team.”
Bayern has signed Yann Sommer as the injured Neuer’s replacement from Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Neuer, who praised the signing of Sommer, said he still doesn’t know why Tapalović was fired.
“There was no justification from what I could understand. Things were said that I don’t agree with. But I haven’t heard any arguments that rule out talking to each other and clearing things up,” said Neuer, who added that the issue led to him considering his future at the club.
Kahn referred to his own time as Germany goalkeeper, when he lost his place to Jens Lehmann after goalkeeping coach Sepp Maier left the German soccer federation.
“I was also disappointed at the time and I was furious with the federation,” said Kahn. “But the common aims were top priority for me. They were more important than my personal feelings. That’s why I decided at the time not to express myself publicly. Manuel has now done the opposite.”
Kahn said the club will talk to Neuer about the matter “very clearly.”
Nagelsmann said he hadn’t talked to the goalkeeper since his interview but “I am a person in need of harmony and my door is not closed, even if I would have chosen a different path.”
Bayern drew its first three Bundesliga games of the year and has seen its lead whittled down to a point.
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