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Star Defender Ze Roberto Discusses Bayern's Fall from Grace

Bayern Munich’s Brazilian superstar defender Ze Roberto, 34, spoke to DW-WORLD about the club's lackluster start to the season and string of losses that have fans worrying about where Germany's premier club is heading.

Munich's Ze Roberto from Brazil tries an overhead kick during the German League Cup

Superstar Ze Roberto shines, but his halo has not spread to his Bayern teammates

DW-WORLD.DE: How are you, Ze?

Ze Roberto: Not so good. At least things are not going the way I want them to.

Why not? You're Bayern Munich's best player at the moment.

Maybe so, but the team is going a difficult phase, our position in the German Bundesliga is very complicated. Thank goodness it's different in the Champions League.

Can you explain what you mean?

No, I don't have an explanation. I haven't been able to find one. In all my years at FC Bayern Munich, in my entire soccer career, I can't remember having such a bad start in the season.

So many people are preoccupied with finding an explanation for this (pile of successive defeats). My take on it is that the situation is so complex that no explanation is necessary. We must simply work harder to reach our goal: to be at the top of the league.

What are you thinking when you look at the scoreboard and FC Bayern Munich is in llth place?

Three disappointed Bayern fans sitting among rows of empty seats at Munich's Olympia Stadium

Bayern fans are getting impatient after string of defeats

I think about the next game, the chance to win three points with a victory, so that we can focus on moving up the ranks.

Isn't there any loss of self-confidence or frustration?

Nope, those feelings aren't there, since I know that all the cards remain in our hands. The Bundesliga had seven days of matches. If we had a similar situation seven games before the end of the season, maybe we could talk about self-doubts and frustration, but not now. The season has just begun, we've still got time to catch up, to work hard and leave this dismal start behind us.

You are the one player at FC Bayern Munich, who has something to celebrate. Your performance has been sensational this season, something that hasn't spilled over to the rest of your teammates.

I don't have a reason to rejoice. When a team does well, all players benefit, but it ain't so the other way around. I think first in group terms and realize that it does no good for individuals to shine, when we as a collective team are going through a difficult patch.

But you ought to be proud of yourself.

Well, I am proud. When we came back to Munich after the summer holidays, I promised myself to make this the best season of my career. My last season went really well, but I'd still like to beat it. Still, it helps no one, not even me who personally experienced a very good year, when at the end of the day, we haven't won any titles. The goals I scored and my performance would be meaningless then, when it doesn't follow that the entire team hasn't achieved something. That's why I'm not so happy.

Today one has the impression that this goal "to achieve something" is almost beyond the reach…

No, I don't think that our goal lies so far ahead. I'm certain we can do better, that we won't stagnate at the bottom of the rankings. We will leave a good season behind us. We are now testing a new working philosophy and every beginning is a tough challenge.

We need to make Juergen Klinsmann's (former national coach who took over as trainer this July) new methods, which every player has incorporated every single day, work for us.

Juergen Klinsmann, new coach of German first soccer division Bundesliga team FC Bayern Munich, right, gestures beside of several players during his first trainings session in Munich

New Bayern coach (right) Klinsmann experiments with team

So many critics say that you are the only FC Bayern Munich player who has truly gotten better..

That will also happen to the entire team. I believe that due to my age and experience as a soccer player, I've been able to better grapple with the Klinsmann philosophy. I understood Juergen Klinsmann from the very beginning. I can see why he experiments, why he takes a certain course of action.

It is clear to me what he wants and how he wants to achieve objectives. This experimental phase is part and parcel of a strategic plan. This season the team has shown in a rudimentary way that it understands Klinsmann's working philosophy-- in playing against Cologne, against Nuremburg or in the second half of the Champions League playoffs against Lyon. What we're missing is consistency and a good balance.

But due to this improper balance (that has led to poor results), Klinsmann finds himself under attack and in the position of having to explain his methods. What do you make of the whole debacle?

Ever since Juergen Klinsmann has become our coach, he's experimented with a number of things: new systems, new players, new configurations on the playing field, new ideas. He is seeking ways to optimize team performance, but before he finds his way, he needs to experiment.

Klinsmann comes with his own mindset. He knows individual team players and kept an eye on them last season, those who won championships and titles. But he needs to experiment with FC Bayern Munich as a whole and learn how the team works together. It's somewhat unfair to make snap judgements, without bearing in mind that he barely started as coach in July and is planning for the long haul. His contract goes for three years.

But fans are getting impatient..

I'm aware that they want to see results, their reaction is understandable, but fans think like fans, not like the coach or club managers, who are thinking more long term about the future. The fans need to be patient and trust us.

How long do they need to wait for these experiments to reap results?

Formal team portrait of Bayern Munich with Ze Roberto and Klinsmann among others taken in 2008

"Now is not the time to whine and look for explanations. The season begins anew..."

We don't have much time. HSV (Hamburg) is in the lead by seven points. The experimental phase is over. I'm not the only one who knows that. Our coach knows that too. Now is not the time to keep whining or look for explanations. We need to get our act together for upcoming games. The season begins anew with our match against FC Karlsruhe.

This is your last season in Germany. Have you managed to master English?

No, why should I learn English?

Because you want to move to FC Dallas in the US..

Nah.. FC Dallas like other clubs have expressed an interest in me, but I haven't yet made up my mind about staying in Germany or not.

Haven't you already turned down an offer from FC Bayern Munich to prolong your contract?

No. Just to clear up any misunderstanding, I need to make the following points clear: First of all, I have not even talked to Bayern about the possibility of extending my contract. Second, even if I had talked to FC Bayern or another club about commitments starting 2009, I would give them all the same answer: This is not the right time to discuss such matters.

I'm only going to start thinking about my future starting in February or March of next year. At the moment, I'm fully focused on the current season. Third of all, a final decision of where to go or stay would be made in conjunction with my whole family. Regardless of what the future holds, my wife, my kids and I feel very much at home in Munich.

Fans of FC Bayern Munich would perhaps want to see more of you, the Ze Roberto, who grows better with age.

Meanwhile I almost believe in my old motto. I recently said that I'm like a good old bottle of wine: With age, I always get better. That seems to be the case right now.

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