Like a small droplet of lukewarm water falling from a broken faucet, January has drip drip dripped across the shiny new tiles in the kitchen, leaving in its damp and squishy wake a beautifully polished floor, a source of drinking water for the cat that represents journalism, and a sizeable contribution to the squalid outbreak of skirting board rot that would take hold in 5 months, resulting in the untimely deaths of everyone in this metaphorical abode, and all because the master of the house was far too arrogant to hire a decent plumber. It was when confronted with this all too common situation that I thought of Bayern Munich.
FC Bayern München are in crisis. The Bavarian club entered January after a disastrous five months saw the rekordmeister finish a meagre 1st place in the hinrunde table. It was reported in every journalistic outlet with even a smattering of knowledge of the wit and wisdom expound by the late former Mainz president P. T. Barnum that Uli Hoeneß and sporting director Christian Nerlinger would remedy Bayern’s “dire squad depth issues” via the tried and tested method of spending enough money to drown a horse. This all came despite several repeated assertions throughout the month from Uli Hoeneß, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, and Christian Nerlinger that no such thing would be done. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the media did a Bill Grundy there, setting themselves up only to knock themselves down, as I recall Dan Treacy putting it. I can’t think why.
Nonetheless, lies, treachery, scandal, and the death of a key player persisted in Munich, with young Brazilian defender and big bad wolf lookalike Breno Borges first missing training due to the contraction of a cold, and then getting a tattoo instead. This was the best the German sport press could come up with until Christian Nerlinger called a press conference to announce the signing of a new player. Except that there were no new players. Instead, the Bayern faithful were treated to a shiny new facebook application allowing supporters to watch Bayern press conferences with their head imposed on the screen. Uli Hoeneß apparently got a massive laugh out of it. Unfortunately, The Commentary and all right-thinking people correctly did not find it funny in the slightest, as it is definitive proof that Bayern hates its own supporters, particularly those that listen to press conferences over the radio. Obviously.
Fortunately, Bayern’s stagnant, anti-progressive attitude of stagnation was not shared by the rest of the Bundesliga. In what is likely to be the transfer of the season, Borussia Mönchengladbach’s young attacking midfield prodigy Marco Reus rejected the advances of Bayern in favour of a move to sign for Dortmund in the summer, at a fee€15mil pounds. If Reus had gone to Bayern instead (I do love a bit of speculative fiction. Milton Friedman is my favourite author), it would be no doubt another case of Hoeneß, Rummenigge, and Nerlinger bullying the league, tempting poor unsuspecting souls with big money, probably personally stolen from small children by the former. As it stands, however, Marco Reus signed for Dortmund, and as such The Commentary, as a part time blogger and a full time Englishman, can only applaud not only Reus but also this phenomenal club, a beacon of light casting its gaze over the dark waters of football. Sort of like the footballing equivalent of Daniel Brühl in The Edukators. Also, The Commentary sometimes gets the feeling that Dortmund’s entire fanbase is composed of English students from the Home Counties.
This would not be the last transfer involving a young attacking midfielder and Dortmund, as the Schwarzgelben would offload Thomas Eisfeld to Home Counties rival Arsenal. The only practical fallout from this is that in 9 years, Arsenal will have the silkiest playmaker on the German national team’s bench, and The Commentary will be humming that Grauzone song for the next forty minutes. Oh, Arsenal, how could you?
Among this all, the Bundesliga pressed on like Paul Kalkbrenner, with the ruckrunde beginning on the 20th of January. In the first match since December of the previous annum, Borussia Mönchengladbach performed a short and timely Charleston across the body of Bayern Munich, drawing all three points and widening the gap between the Bundesliga’s top four sides and the rest of the league in a fashion heavily reminiscent of Moses or the Premier League, whose only previous similarity was that neither of the two are anything like they’re cracked up to be. Meanwhile in other parts of the Bundesliga, Bruno Labbadia’s Stuttgart lost two games, conceding six goals to Schalke and Borussia Mönchengladbach. And to think that some certain writers whose names I will not disclose predicted that the Swabians could win the salad bowl. I laugh at them.
Elsewhere, Freiburg’s 18 year old sub-editors nightmare (Defender? Midfielder? Forward? One thing’s for certain, Bring another bottle!) Christian Ginter sealed his place in every “whatever happened to…” feature stuffed amidst the backpages of all respected sporting journals across Germany with a late, late, late, late, late, late, late, agonizingly late finish against hapless Augsburg. Up at the opposite end of the country, Borussia Cambridge stuffed 5 goals past SV Public Training Session. Some other results happened, but they appeal to a very niche audience, and as such it does not fall under my jurisdiction to report them. Where would webpage hit go then?
The following week dawned in exactly one week’s time with all the verve and gusto of John Cage’s 4’33. Bayern drilled out a result against Wolfsburg (hmm, this seems familiar), Schalke shattered EffZeh Köln (named after the charming and quaint sound the Köln supporters make after watching their side grind out another Napoleon-in-1812esque collapse), Bremen and Leverkusen gave a performance separated at birth from the critical reviews of Das Boot, Augsburg and Kaiserslautern drew in a game that I am informed was highly exciting, the team from Hamburg that don’t wear skulls and crossed bones won 2-1 against Hertha, Hannover defeated Nuremberg 1-0 in the heavily publicized “battle of teams that once wore red shirts and now wear rather a fetching shade of maroon” (as it was referred to in the German sporting press). Oh, and Mainz 3-1ed Freiburg. I remain as impartial as ever to this news.
Regardless, the undoubtedly most analyzed news story of January is Gerald Asamoah’s move to Greuter Fürth on a free transfer. Asamoah, a former German international, is very much in the twilight of his career, and his signing for 2. Bundesliga promotion candidates Fürth may well prove to be his last shot at playing for a Bundesliga club. I can only wish him the best.
So that was January. Nothing more, nothing less. The Commentary can only hold hopes that February produces similar amounts of pointless snarking. The Commentary is very fond of pointless snarking.