Legendary Bayern Munich coach Cijk Cajkovski once labelled Gerd Müller ‘kleines, dickes Müller’ (short, fat Müller) without any adverse effects and the striker went on to become arguably the world’s best striker of his era. Amateur psychology, kidology, or simply an observation of the thunderous thighs of ‘der Bomber’? Who knows?
But a harsh word/ wake-up call from the coach can often have the desired effect and if Arturo Vidal’s performance against Augsburg on matchday 12 is anything to go by, Bayern trainer Jupp Heynckes is a master of player psychology.
The self-styled ‘warrior’ was a player probably synonymous with the undercurrent of malaise at the Sabener Strasse under Carlo Ancelotti- a big name and big character coasting somewhat and not pushing himself to the limit.
Chile’s shock failure to qualify for the World Cup in Russia has been blamed by some sections of the South American media on the party lifestyle of a core of players with national coach Jorge Sampaoli going as far as saying that Vidal enjoyed partying and alcohol too much. Even the mother of Claudio Bravo’s wife hit out saying “the whole world knows that Vidal came to training drunk.”
Against both RB Leipzig in the DFB Pokal clash and Celtic in the Champions League, Vidal had rather subpar performances with mistakes creeping into his game.
Showing his wisdom and foresight, Heynckes reportedly took Vidal to task recently with positive repercussions. “I had a long talk with him two, two-and-a-half weeks ago and told him that I wasn’t pleased with his physical condition in general. I told him that if he wants to play he would have to change something,” Heynckes said after the weekend win over Augsburg.
“He didn’t see it exactly that way but from that point on, he has trained and behaved differently in training. This week he has trained exceptionally well. I know what type of performances he is capable of from our time together at Leverkusen — the way he played today, that’s how he played during my first year there, often scoring goals and full of strong running. I expect that from him.”
Robert Lewandowski may have grabbed a lot of the headlines with his two goal haul against the Függerstadter, but for many observers, it was Vidal, who was the man of the match on Saturday.
He was a ball of energy scoring the Bayern opener (his 25th Bundesliga goal for the club) and then provided the excellent assist for Lewandowski to score the second of the match. He then went close himself to adding a fourth for the hosts before deservedly receiving the applause of the Allianz Arena ten minutes from the end as he made way for Sebastian Rudy.
“I’m very happy. Not just about the game, but I also feel very fit physically. I had these two weeks [during the international break] to recover and train hard, so I feel I’m at 100 per cent. That helps me to keep playing well” the Chilean said after the game.
“I know how valuable I am and how much effort I put in every day. I give my all in every training session so I’m very focused on what I’m doing and people are very appreciative of what I do.”
Vidal is contracted to Bayer until 30 June 2019 and there will be no doubt plenty of clubs monitoring his situation very closely. However, right now with Jupp Heynckes as his guide and mentor, and based on Saturday’s performance, the only place FCB fans want to see King Arturo is in the red shirt of Bayern.
Arturo Vidal Team Accomplishments
Colo Colo – 3 Chilean Primera Division titles
Bayer Leverkusen – Bundesliga runner up (2010/2011)
Juventus – 4 Serie A titles, 1 Coppa Italia, 2 Supercoppa Italianas
Bayern Munich – 2 Bundesliga titles, 1 DFB Pokal, 2 DFL Supercups
Chile National Team – 2 Copa Americas
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