Except for his wedding ceremony, it has been a yr to neglect for Bayern Munich and Germany captain Manuel Neuer. The goalkeeper will likely be sidelined till 2018 following three fractures of the foot in a matter of months.
The 31-year-old went underneath the knife for the primary time on the finish of March however was rushed again into motion simply two weeks later for the Champions League quarterfinal first leg towards Actual Madrid in Munich amid doubts over the standard of backup keeper Sven Ulreich.
Following Javi Martinez’s dismissal, an impressed Neuer virtually singlehandedly saved a Robert Lewandowski-less Bayern within the tie with a string of majestic saves. And Bayern’s Champions League dream was nonetheless very a lot alive after 90 minutes of the return within the Bernabeu, forcing further time with a 2-1 win, with a half-fit Lewandowski taken off simply earlier than the tip of regular time.
Then Neuer suffered one other fracture in further time, with 10-man Bayern transport an additional three objectives as they had been unceremoniously dumped out of the competitors by the eventual winners, however not earlier than quite a few complaints in regards to the referee, offside objectives from Cristiano Ronaldo and the validity of Arturo Vidal’s crimson card.
With Neuer vowing to return for the beginning of the marketing campaign, Bayern — as soon as bitten, twice shy — had been in no hurry with their new captain over the summer time. Spared the elongated summer time tour of Asia to proceed his restoration, the keeper bought hitched and loved a calming honeymoon.
He finally made his comeback as Carlo Ancelotti’s captain towards Werder Bremen on Aug. 26, taking part in 4 video games and maintaining three sheets, breached solely within the tame 2-Zero loss at Hoffenheim, Bayern’s sole Bundesliga defeat this season.
Then the unthinkable occurred. On the eve of a visit to play his boyhood membership Schalke, Neuer suffered “a repeat hairline fracture of the metatarsal in his left foot” throughout a coaching session on Sept. 18.
One other operation inevitably adopted the following day, ruling him out till the New Yr. Within the meantime, Neuer has revealed that he has been taking part in with a steel plate in his foot for years, since selecting up an identical damage at Schalke in 2008. The keeper did not seem significantly perturbed however warned it might take him six months to heal correctly — worrying for Germany, with a World Cup defence on the horizon subsequent summer time.
Understandably, this was not significantly excellent news for Bayern both — or an under-pressure Ancelotti. Ulreich struggled to fill Neuer’s moderately giant boots in objective. He was horribly uncovered within the Three-Zero loss to Paris Saint-Germain within the Champions League and in addition inexplicably allowed a tender free kick previous him towards Wolfsburg as Bayern instantly did very un-Bayern like issues and let a two-goal Bundesliga lead slip at house.
With no Neuer to avoid wasting the day, these errors had been the ultimate nail within the coffin for Ancelotti and proved his final sport in cost in every respective competitors.
Nevertheless, since taking on for a fourth time period, Jupp Heynckes has not solely revitalised the German champions’ fortunes however Neuer’s shaky backup instantly appears to be like as secure because the Bundesbank in objective.
Regardless of admitting to ESPN FC he’s “no Neuer,” Ulreich has saved a string of fresh sheets and his essential DFB Pokal penalty shootout save from RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner saved Bayern’s Treble hopes alive.
Simply 4 league video games into Heynckes’ fourth time period, Bayern boast a wholesome four-point lead within the Bundesliga, and in addition sailed into the Champions League knockout levels for a 10th straight season, following house and away victories over Celtic.
All would seem rosy within the Bayern backyard, if not for a couple of unseemly squabbles within the medical division. Dr. Volker Braun, 44, an orthopaedist and trauma surgeon, resigned on Monday after 9 years on the membership, having assumed duty for the primary crew two years in the past following the ugly departure of Dr Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt.
“Mull” and his whole employees left the membership in April 2015 after 38 years of service, following disagreements with then-boss Pep Guardiola over the remedy of injured gamers.
German tabloid Bild claimed that Dr. Braun had not utilized “ideally suited remedy strategies,” that means injured stars resembling Neuer spent prolonged spells on the sidelines. Bild additionally prompt that Dr. Braun solely left the membership to be spared a messy sacking by a less-than-amused Bayern hierarchy.
However, certainly the membership is aware of the standard of its medical employees after virtually a decade of service? In any case, Neuer quickly got here out in Dr. Braun’s defence on his Fb web page, saying he was “completely to not blame” for his damage woe.
“The media at this time are giving the impression that Dr. Volker Braun is answerable for the event of my damage, as a result of he didn’t apply the perfect remedy strategies,” he wrote. “I categorically dispute this. Bayern’s former crew physician is totally to not blame. I may even guarantee that he utilized the easiest strategies that trendy drugs permits.”
With Dr. Braun gone, there’s a void within the remedy room. It could be no shock to see the 75-year-old Muller-Wohlfahrt again working his magic on a extra energetic foundation within the coming weeks.
Dubbed “a phenomenon” by Bastian Schweinsteiger and “a genius” by president Uli Hoeness, the therapeutic palms of Muller-Wohlfahrt proceed to deal with a protracted listing of Bayern stars, together with Arjen Robben, Jerome Boateng and Robert Lewandowski, regardless that he’s not formally on the membership’s payroll.
Usain Bolt has been a affected person at his downtown Munich apply for the reason that age of 18 and devoted an Olympic gold “to a person with a giant coronary heart,” even handing over his world-record breaking sneakers as a present.
The veteran medic left the membership in moderately ugly vogue, whereas his shut buddy Hoeness was nonetheless languishing in jail. Nevertheless, quick ahead to 2017, and it’s a time when the previous guard is reforming underneath Heynckes.
As a way to easy the 72-year-old Heynckes’ return, Bayern paid round €2 million for a 65-year-old assistant coach in Peter Hermann from second-division Fortuna Dusseldorf, so it will be no shock to see the 75-year-old “Mull” utilizing his magic potions on a extra energetic foundation within the coming weeks.
Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Comply with him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.