The players of FC Bayern Munchen were all smiles this week as they posed for the club’s annual Oktoberfest photos, but behind the scenes there are rumblings of discontent as the champions prepare for Matchday 4 of this season’s Bundesliga.
First, during the recent international break, Thomas Muller vented discontent after being dropped from the starting lineup for the game against Werder Bremen a week earlier.
The 28-year old went on to speculate about leaving the club where he has been since he was 10, and although coach Carlo Ancelotti quickly denied there was any rift between the two, everyone knows that the Bayern talisman has not been in the best of form ever since the Italian took the helm in Bavaria last summer.
Muller scored just nine goals last season in all competition, his worst ever return for Bayern and a stark contrast to the 32 he bagged a year earlier.
Despite Ancelotti’s denials it’s clear that something is not quite right, although whether the club would allow a superstar such as Muller to leave would be a question of how much faith they have in their coach.
The other incident involved club legend and CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge’s public admonishment of top scorer Robert Lewandowski after the Pole had questioned the club’s transfer policy in a recent magazine interview.
Lewandowski had called on the club to sign more world-class players and also ridiculed the club’s record transfer of €41.5 million as an ‘average’ amount.
In response, Rummenigge slammed Bayern’s star striker, saying that perhaps PSG’s transfer activity had affected him.
He also went on to give the Pole a lesson in what is important to the club, before reminding Lewandowski that he was under contract until 2021 with no release clause.
Any discontent the Polish striker may have harboured was seemingly quickly brushed aside as Bayern started their Champions League campaign strongly midweek, Lewandowski converting an early penalty that he had won in his side’s dominant 3-0 win over Anderlecht.
Still, it will be interesting to see how Bayern, Lewandowski and Muller perform on Saturday when they entertain Mainz in the Bundesliga – a match that on paper they should win easily.
Given that early title rivals Hoffenheim and Dortmund face comfortable-looking home ties against Hertha Berlin and bottom-club FC Koln respectively, Ancelotti and his team will be looking to get back to winning ways following their 2-0 reverse to Hoffenheim last time out.
If the five-time reigning champions can manage that, then maybe they can all sit down and enjoy a beer together for real.