Bayern Munich captain Phillip Lahm has jumped to the defence of manager Pep Guardiola following a spate of recent criticism aimed at the former Barcelona manager’s footballing philosophy.
Despite wrapping up the Bundesliga in record time and reaching the final of the German Cup, Guardiola has found life in Bavaria tough, especially following the 5-0 Champions League semi-final defeat to Real Madrid.
Talk of general squad disenchantment has grown stronger over the last few weeks with star players including Javi Martinez, Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos and Mario Gotze all strongly linked with moves away from the Allianz Arena.
Even Bayern mainstay Bastian Schweinsteiger has been unhappy, reportedly leading a contingent of senior Bayern players demanding Guardiola return to playing with two deep lying midfielders as they had done during their treble winning campaign last season.
Lahm however continues to play with a straight bat and has come out in defence of his manager:
"From 2008 to 2012, Barcelona were the yardstick for everyone across the world and played outstanding football, but our goal has never been to become a second Barca," said the 30-year-old defender.
"Under Pep Guardiola, throughout two-thirds of the season, we showed we can play a unique, very successful style: precise and dangerous in attack and, yes, just like Barcelona, with a lot of possession, because possession means controlling the play."
"We have never played tiki-taka, however that is defined, but rather have, with Pep Guardiola, found an effective way of playing football at the highest level."
Lahm, who has been capped 105 times for Germany, was keen to emphasise the responsibility the players must take for Bayern’s dip since securing the Bundesliga crown adding:
"We need to have the conviction to ensure our system is successful throughout a whole season."
As captain and ambassador for the club it’s difficult to know whether Lahm, who at 5 ft 7in has earned the endearing nickname the magic dwarf, is genuinely in support of Guardiola or rather just toeing the party line but his criticism of his teammates is difficult to oppose.
Since securing the title back in March, Guardiola’s men have won just four of their ten matches in all competitions including heavy defeats to Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund; a paltry return regardless of the Spaniard’s squad rotation.
Guardiola remains firmly behind his footballing philosophy insisting: "We can't play according to the ideas of the players. That is not possible."
Such an approach seems to have irked the Bayern playing staff thus far and with numerous key players publicly discontent the clubs hierarchy may be left with a difficult decision to make.
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