Bayern Munich's team doctor Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt has stepped down after differences with the club. DW's Stefan Nestler believes it reveals a lot about the atmosphere currently at the football club.
The doctor of a football team has stepped down. So what? That's certainly one way of looking at the departure of Bayern Munich's Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt, but that would be a far too simplistic perspective on the situation. The man is an institution. For the last 38 years, Müller-Wohlfahrt has worked for Germany's record title-holders - with only one small interlude in 2008 after a disagreement with then head coach Jürgen Klinsmann. For the Bayern players, he is simply 'the doc'.
Since 1996, the doctor with shoulder long (now grey) hair has also been doctor for Germany's national team. Sportsmen and women around the world come to receive treatment from Müller-Wohlfahrt. The fastest man on earth, Usain Bolt, is one of his patients and hailed him as "the best doctor in the world." In short, 'the doc' is a prominent part of Bayern's history.
If someone deals with their medical department so swiftly, it certainly reveals a great deal about the current atmosphere at the club. Not much love, peace and harmony to see here! There's trouble brewing.
Head Coach Pep Guardiola is a perfectionist, who does not just want control over everything but also wants to actively direct. When he arrived at Bayern in 2013, Guardiola brought his Spanish assistants to Munich, but also made sure the likes of Thiago, Juan Bernat, Pepe Reina and Xabi Alonso moved to Bavaria. And Guardiola publicly showed a lack of respect for Müller-Wohlfahrt when he sent Thiago to Barcelona for treatment for his ligament injury. A clear affront against Müller-Wohlfahrt.
A world away from perfection
The 72-year-old feels, due to "inexplicable reasons", like a scapegoat after the 3-1 Champions League defeat to Porto. Granted, the injury list is long at Bayern but since when is a doctor responsible for players being out of action? Or that the players who were in action against Porto made such shocking errors? If anyone other than the players themselves is responsible, then it is the head coach.
Porto ruthlessly revealed what Wolfsburg and Gladbach confirmed with their Bundesliga victories against Bayern: The perfection that Guardiola is aiming for remains a world away for Bayern. And, in the eyes of Bayern, if things go badly then at the end of the season they'll 'only' end up with the German title instead of a coveted treble. The league title alone is not enough for the trophy-hungry Bayern, who usually set the bar high.
Is Guardiola rule free?
Even if there's a degree of damaged pride in Müller-Wohlfahrt's resignation, two questions remain. Firstly, is there anyone left in a leading position at Bayern that Guardiola can put in their place when they step over the mark? And, what happens when, for whatever reason, Guardiola ups and leaves, taking his Spanish contingent with him? It is then at the absolutely latest people like Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt, and what they stand for, will be missed.