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Fußball-Bundesligist FC Bayern München: Tapalovic-Trennung als Vertrauensbruch

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Status: 01/24/2023 1:22 p.m

With the dismissal of goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic, the injured Manuel Neuer loses his closest confidant. It could be the beginning of a new era at FC Bayern.

Perhaps Manuel Neuer now feels reminded of his early days when not everyone welcomed him at Bayern. It is obvious that the German national goalkeeper, who is taking an indefinite break after his skiing holiday, sees the separation from his long-time confidante and goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic as an affront.

Something like a year of epidemics ends for Manuel Neuer with a broken leg. In an important phase of the season, FC Bayern suddenly has to think about the future.

Otherwise the keeper and captain would not have written such an emotional farewell letter for both the national team and FC Bayern. The 36-year-old has never hidden how much he owes to Tapalovic. “Dear Toni,” Neuer wrote on Instagram, honoring his close confidant as a “great person” and “an absolute pioneer of modern goalkeeping.” Neuer made it clear: “Everyone, not just in Munich, knows that all these successes would never have been possible without you!” Neuer concluded his emotional eulogy for his 12.3 million followers with the sentimental sentence: “I will miss you! ‘Thank you for everything’

Tom Starke can step in

The expulsion of his best man and goalkeeper trainer took Neuer by surprise. And even the sports information service (sid) asks: “Is Tapalovics out the beginning of the end?” The fired new promoter Tapalovic also commented on the Instagram platform and not on the press release from FC Bayern. “After more than a decade, my time at Bayern Munich ends surprisingly today,” said the 42-year-old, captioning his message: “Thank you for 11.5 unforgettable years!” No bad word that could have consequences under labor law.

The former Bayern substitute goalkeeper Tom Starke, who has been working as a goalkeeping coordinator for the youth and goalkeeping coach of the U19s since 2017, is to start his job. When Neuer took up his post at Bayern Munich in the summer of 2011, there was a heated debate. Unforgotten are the placards that were thrown up thousands of times the week before and read “Koan Neuer”. Even today you can read in the ultra group “Schickeria” why the fans positioned themselves against the native of Gelsenkirchen: “Yes, he is a very good goalkeeper. No one who knows football will deny that. But he is not that only very good goalkeeper.” Thomas Kraft, who was supposedly equal, was remembered.

A lot of persuasion was needed in 2011

Twelve years ago, the then bosses Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeneß had to do a lot of convincing to get Neuer to Munich. To make it easier for him to settle in, his goalkeeper coach was also allowed to come along: Tapalovic himself was a goalkeeper at FC Schalke 04 when Neuer rose to number one with the Royal Blues under coach Mirko Slomka, who inherited the then regular goalkeeper Frank Rost.

Tapalovic was to become the mentor in the career of world goalkeeper and world champion Neuer. A close bond developed between the two, which is not uncommon in the industry. Goalkeepers and goalkeeping coaches not only spend a lot of time on the training ground every day, they are also brothers in spirit; basically its own group. At TSG Hoffenheim, for example, Michaelrechner has been responsible for the goalkeepers for a long time. He not only formed Oliver Baumann into a top man, but also developed Gregor Kobel, who matured into a class keeper at Borussia Dortmund.

Sepp Maier developed the profile as a goalkeeper coach

All in all, the job profile of the goalkeeper coach, which is now similar worldwide, was shaped by a Bayern legend: Sepp Maier was one of the first specialists to take care of the goalkeepers, was with the national team from 1988 to 2004 and at FC Bayern from 1994 to 2008. Always in the mood for a joke and was considered the most important sponsor for the world-class goalkeeper Oliver Kahn. Maier and Kahn also built up a close bond through their daily activities in wind and weather, even though they were completely different types.

When Jürgen Klinsmann, after his appointment as team boss but before the home World Cup in 2006, announced an open duel for the German number one between Jens Lehmann and Kahn, Maier publicly took the side of Kahn in the constant dispute between the two. Soon after, there was a separation. Certain parallels are now apparent.

Requirements as for a decathlete

The goalkeeping position is a key position that comes with more responsibility and higher demands than that of field players. DFB goalkeeper coordinator Marc Ziegler likes to compare the job with the complex tasks of a decathlete, who has to sprint fast, jump high and far and throw well to combine everything.

There’s no question about it: Neuer, who suffered an open fracture of his tibia and fibula in a skiing accident, is such a jack of all trades and has mastered many sports. The best at tennis, on the mountain bike – and at soccer almost as good as the field players. Even though he didn’t play well in the World Cup in Qatar and was partly to blame for his early exit due to his hesitation in conceding the second goal against Japan (1:2), he has remained in the circle of the world’s best goalkeepers at well over 30.

Julian Nagelsmann is skeptical

Tapalovic was called the “genius behind Manuel Neuer”. But head coach Julian Nagelsmann in particular did not bond with him. In the end he is said to have suspected Tapalovic of having passed on confidential information from the coaching room to Intimus Neuer. “In general, it is important to have an intact relationship with everyone in your coaching team. You can always improve there,” said Nagelsmann on Monday before the breakup. Everyone needs to know their responsibilities, he stressed, like professionals, coaches and goalkeeping coaches can “improve things so that everyone is going in the same direction”.

In the thin message about the separation, sports director Hasan Salihamidzic called “in particular differences about the way of working together” as the reason. He had previously announced that the communication problems between Tapalovic and Alexander Nübel, who was committed in 2020, would be dealt with internally. The goalkeeper, who was also brought from Schalke and has since been loaned to AS Monaco, only criticized last Saturday in the ZDF sports studio that there had been very little contact with Tapalovic.

Criticism also from Alexander Nübel

“I think we could have talked about the situation from time to time,” complained the 26-year-old, who only played four competitive games for Bayern in his first season before being loaned out to France a year and a half ago. His club wouldn’t let him go this winter, so Bayern recently signed Yann Sommer from Borussia Mönchengladbach. Like Nübel, the 34-year-old is tied until 2025.

Should Neuer no longer reach the old level, which cannot be ruled out given the severity of his injury and his age, FC Bayern have taken precautions, especially since Sven Ulreich is currently also available as a summer backup.

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