Rummenigge: There's no giving up at FC Bayern
At the start of his address to the 1,682 members present at the 2018 Annual General Meeting at the Audi Dome, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge looked back on "an already historic Monday" in October 2017. Jupp Heynckes and his assistants Peter Hermann and Hermann Gerland took over at FC Bayern, who were five points adrift of top spot in the Bundesliga table back then. At the end of the 2017/18 season Bayern sealed the championship title once more, 21 points clear of runners-up Schalke.
"Jupp came, saw and won and won," said the FC Bayern chairman. Bayern continued their "permanent party" of the previous years, including the 2013 treble, the FIFA Club World Cup any many more titles. The 63-year-old said thank you on this occasion, to Arturo Vidal, Sebastian Rudy, Juan Bernat and Tom Starke who had left the club's pro squad last summer. But most of all, he found warm words for Heynckes to the applause of the members: "Dear Jupp, enjoy your retirement with Iris, with your family, with your faithful Cando. You've more than earned it."
The eminently successful previous season showed Rummenigge there is "room for improvement" in the current Bundesliga campaign. A nine-point gap to league leaders Dortmund is "admittedly very big." But the former world-class striker called for calm: "We can't win the championshp title every year, and we don't have to," which is not to mean "we wouldn't really like to be German champions."
Everybody at FC Bayern hopes they can still "turn the tide." The strong start to the season but also the most recent 5-1 gala display against Benfica in the Champions League have shown "what this team can do," according to Rummenigge. Words like "give up are not in FC Bayern's vocabulary," the chairman stressed. Which also means coach Niko Kovac has Bayern's full trust.
Kovac is the right man
"I like him as a person," said Rummenigge, hoping Kovac will soon "return to a solid and successful track." There are no doubts regarding his future with the German record champions: "It's our wish Niko will be FC Bayern coach for a long time," said the former world-class striker. He expects the 47-year-old to continue the upward trend seen in the Champions League. Besides, the Bavarians have an important match against Ajax in the race for the group win: "Points and money are at stake," said the 63-year-old.
Rummenigge pointed out the German record champions lie second in the UEFA club ranking, level on points with Barcelona. FC Bayern aim to continue at this level. "You can count on it: Uli Hoeneß and I will never approve plans for a Super League or a withdrawal from the Bundesliga and the European club competitions," declared Rummenigge, contradicting recent rumours in the press.
Renewal in the squad - innovation at the Allianz Arena
Bayern have a competitive squad now, but renewal is pending. There is "no question the face of our team will change, next summer at the latest," Rummenigge announced. Upheavals like this have happened frequently in FC Bayern's history, and the 63-year-old is certain "we'll manage again this time." Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic and the scouting department are working on it "intensely and at full tilt even now." Besides, FC Bayern's "extremely solid and perfectly healthy financial situation allows sufficient room for manoeuvre in terms of changes in the squad." Rummenigge had mentioned beforehand three renowned players who joined Bayern this summer, Serge Gnabry, Renato Sanches and Leon Goretzka.
But FC Bayern never rest, and not only in terms of sport. "The new design of the Allianz Arena was a wonderful example of cooperation with our fans at FC Bayern," commented Rummenigge. In the same way that FC Bayern's home is now fully red and white, the German record champions opted for a home fit in club colours in close collaboration with the fans. The chairman also praised the smoking ban and a disposable cup system at the Allianz Arena as a result of a joint resolution.