x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

German success is made there

Bayern have a strong playing identity, a set framework that runs through their club ... Bayern play well and they win. They have great individuals, but the team is always more important.

Thomas Mueller, left, and Philipp Lahm are examples of players brought up through Bayern Munich's system. Andreas Gebert / EPA
Thomas Mueller, left, and Philipp Lahm are examples of players brought up through Bayern Munich's system. Andreas Gebert / EPA

A few hours before Bayern Munich outclassed Manchester City on Wednesday at the Etihad Stadium in the Uefa Champions League, I watched their Under 19 team play City’s at Hyde, a small stadium close to Manchester.

My son, Devante, played and scored as City won 6-0. City have several fine young players, but only three others besides Devante are English.

Almost all the Bayern players were German. They were slightly younger and that hurt them physically, but they never gave up on their style or philosophy when they were one down or five down.

They were technically excellent.

Yes, they lost 6-0, but I would like to see the two teams meet again in three years. Bayern have a strong playing identity, a set framework that runs through their club. I was stunned when their own sporting director Matthias Sammer recently criticised Pep Guardiola’s side for not being entertaining enough.

Bayern play well and they win. They have great individuals, but the team is always more important.

They are the best team in the world and they were far superior to City in the Champions League.

Some were surprised in England. They live in a bubble where they are told that the English Premier League is the best in the world.

That bubble gets popped when teams like Bayern destroy City and give the English a reality check.

Part of the problem is what I saw in that youth game. The best young German players are getting a chance at their biggest clubs.

It is far harder for the best English players. Seven of the Bayern players who beat City were German, while two of the City players were English.

Bayern complement their squad with world-class signings such as Arjen Robben, Frank Ribery or Javi Martinez, but their identity is still very German. And they talk about the team ahead of individuals.

It has always been that way. Great players, but an even greater team.

That is one reason why they’re the best in the world.

To sum up things, one of City’s two English players, Joe Hart, did not have the best of days against Bayern. He has made mistakes in several games recently and he is taking a lot of criticism.

He has been built up and now it is time for him to be knocked down. It is a British trait.

He has made and will make mistakes in the future. But goalkeeper errors are magnified, especially when they play for club and country. It did not help Hart when his former manager, Roberto Mancini, was openly critical of him when he should have been protective. His criticism was valid – but it should have been kept in-house between him and Hart.

Hart is a nice guy, maybe too nice, because his critics know that he is not going to come back at them. He needs to be mentally strong, but Joe’s good enough to come though this rough patch.

He’s a very good goalkeeper – the best shot-stopper around – who broke into the City and England teams at a young age and shoulders much responsibility.

If we want more young English players in our game, we have to back, not pillory, them.

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Morrison turns it around none too late

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Speaking of young English prospects, Ravel Morrison is finally showing his immense talents at the top level with West Ham United.

That he had it was never in doubt.

Sir Alex Ferguson described him as the most gifted player in United’s academy since Paul Scholes.

After trying to help him numerous times, Ferguson finally lost patience with Morrison and let him go. You can help a player, but if a player consistently cannot help himself, he is not worth the extra work. Especially if he will not turn up for training.

Morrison’s career could have gone either way. He did not always choose his company well and could have been finished in football through a lack of dedication.

Thankfully, he appears to have seen the light, is getting his head straight and has seen his career revived.

I am happy to see him playing week in week out. He has an elegant style and glides past opponents. He makes it look effortless.

United fans are talking about Adnan Januzaj being a great hope for they future. He is. The only shame is that Ravel Morrison could have been a similarly great hope at Old Trafford, had he been dedicated.

He could have been as good as Scholes. He still might be – he is that good.

Sadly for United, he is not playing at Old Trafford, but he cannot say he did not have the opportunity.

sports@thenational.ae

Andrew Cole’s column is written with the assistance of European football correspondent Andy Mitten.