Hergreaves Sees No Other Than Bayern And Believes Guardiola Made the Right Choice.

Owen Hergreaves and Luis Figo in 2006.
Owen Hergreaves and Luis Figo in 2006.

Owen Hergreaves is one player whose assessments of the Bavarian giants we can rely on ahead of Saturday’s Wembley final. The two- time Champions League winner was England’s best player of the 2006 Germany World Cup, at which time he was a Bayern Munich midfielder.

Hergreaves’ selection into the Three Lions squad of 2006 was debatable across England, considering the long- existing rivalry between Germany and his home country. But the ex- Manchester City player went on to display the best English performance of the tournament, especially in the game against Portugal; after Wayne Rooney had been sent off.

“The infrastructure has always been there (at Bayern),” Hargreaves said.

“In 2006, the England lads were asking, ‘Why are you playing there?’ I’d say it’s because I can guarantee the club I play for is better than yours.

“Then we spent six weeks there at the World Cup. They are saying, ‘Wow, it’s stunning.’ The structure has always been there and now they are fortunate to have a generation of players and coaches coming together.”

Hergreaves moved to Munich from Canada as a teenager and spent a decade at Bayern, breaking into the first team at the time of “intimidating” characters such as Oliver Khan and Steffen Effenberg and winning the Champions League in 2001.

After the World Cup, the midfielder moved to Manchester United where he won the Champions League in 2008. Pathetically, towards the end of his time at Old Trafford, his career in England was spoiled by a tendinitis in the knee.

He remains firmly in the Bayern folklore. He was seen in the dressing room after their victory against Arsenal and will be at Wembley Tomorrow (Saturday.)

“Bayern have the right balance,” Hergreaves said. They’re a model for a lot of people. Their stadium is probably the best in Europe, their training ground is one of the best, commercially they turn a profit and make their own money. It’s done naturally.

“It’s mostly (club president) Uli Hoeness who has made the club what it is. He is the heart and soul. There was a time when he said they had to decide if they had enough money to cut the trees and plants down and to go from that to where they are is pretty amazing.”

The Germany- England rivalry should rather be a thing of the past, when you consider the 4-1 thrashing in Bloemfontein in 2010. And as Wembley prepares to host the first all- German finals, European football might have moved from Spain to Germany. Though, many would wish the World Cup or even The Euros were this year.

Bayern Munich looks set to dominate Europe for few more seasons to come; thrashing the Catalan giants 7-0 in a two- legged semi- final, having romped to the domestic title, the appointment of Pep Guardiola to replace present manager Jupp Heynckes plus other expected summer recruits, they look ready already for the next season.

“People ask me why he chose to go there, not Chelsea,” said Hergreaves. “Well, he’s a smart man. If Bayern is not the best- run club in Europe, you would struggle to find a better one.

Pep Guardiola.
Pep Guardiola.

“But if they win the treble, what’s he going to do? It’s only downhill from there.

“You have to say they’re number one. That team is as good as you’ll find, with a work ethic. I’d be shocked if they didn’t steam- roller everything over the next few years. The only issue is complacency.”

Hergreaves was at the top of his game before injury rocked his bolt. He has been part of the Champions and domestic League- winning Bayern and United. The midfielder is not new to the tide that comes with success.

“Any team with success over a period can fall victim to that. We thought they (Barcelona) were undefeatable and then to go and get beat 7-0 over two legs, it wasn’t even close. It could have been 12 or 13.”

Hergreaves has not played since his release from City last summer and, although he remains reluctant officially to end his playing career at the age of 32, he admits it might be time to focus on what he calls “Chapter Two.”