I had the opportunity to speak with Andy Brassell of the BBC’s excellent World Football Phone-in on Up All Night. I want to emphasize that for those of us who follow the Bundesliga, this show, although based in England, can be a massive resource. Tim Vickery, with his knowledge of South American Players, and Andy with his knowledge of the continental players as well as the Bundesliga itself can aid us in getting to understand new players to the league. Although I don’t cover it with Andy, he is an expert on the European competitions and he wrote a book called All or Nothing: A Season in the life of the Champions League and he can answer questions about our clubs/opponents playing in Europa and Champions League. Feel free to call-in to the show and ask questions. I did. If you do, they will take your name and number and call you back so it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. I still want to call back about Geromel.
How did you become an expert on the continental game?
I kind of fell into it through freelancing via some European football titles. I was always interested. It may seem odd to someone younger today, but flying was a luxury when I was young so we didn’t get to see a lot of the European teams as England were shut out of the competitions due to Heysel. Seeing the likes of Real or Milan or even an Eastern bloc team was quite romantic in those days. It became a way of travelling inside his head
Next I began to ask about new players in the league.
I’ve heard from some that Anatoliy Tymoschuk might have come 3 years too late. What do you think?
It’s a very interesting thing. When he signed, I thought that is it for Mark van Bommel, as he seems like a double for Tymoschuk. However, he still is the captain and started the first game. But I know what you mean. If you look up the stats, you notice that he’s only 2 years younger than MVB. But he is still in fantastic shape.
Overall I think he’s going be a good signing. While there is a difficulty switching from the East to Center of Europe because they play at different season times, he should make the transition smoothly. There’s no sense of development as he will be able to come in right away and be a leader. He was bought for some immediacy and should be a hit straight away. And if you look at his skills, there shouldn’t be a doubt at his ability to be a big impact at Bayern: he never dives in, he has a good range of passing and he’s a leader. He’s always been a captain since he was a kid. So he’s not exactly a short term signing as they can still hope to get a good 3 years out of him.
Danijel Pranji? and Edson Braafheid
The question is how the new signings will do. There’s a difference between proving yourself at a high level and proving yourself at a massive club. Boumjohann and Pranji? have proven themselves at the highest level, but how does that translate to the particular pressure of Bayern Munich, where every point lost is a crisis. Pranji? should be nailed on to be really good. He didn’t rush into his big move, waiting until the prime of his career. And his relationship with Braafheid, who should slot in at left back, will be important as they. LB is a position which Munich have been looking to fill so they can move Lahm to the right. Since both Braafheid and Pranji? are coming in at the same time from the same league, they could develop at the same rate together and it should be really interesting
Losing Olic was a big blow, so they needed more bodies up front. Berg has shown he can score, albeit in Holland and the U21’s. Can he make the step up to a bigger league? There are a lot of players that have scored in the Eredivisie only to fail elsewhere, so that is always a worry. However, he won’t have to start every game with Guerrero and Petric already there. He should be able to develop without pressure mounted upon him.
He is “GREAT” signing. There were lots of big clubs in for him as he was great in the UEFA Cup. But he’s not a one year buy. More like a five year buy hopefully. I expect big things from him this year.
He was excellent at PSG, but lost his way at Newcastle and Lazio. It’s odd, but he’s in so he’s in his prime but needs to re-prove himself. He’s rugged and physical, which is something Hamburg have lacked in the past. Since Van Buyten left, they’ve lacked a defender to take control of the game. But he can do it if he gets back to his PSG form and could form a great partnership with be a great with Alex Silva.
His voice got very excited at the mention of this young player.
He looked absolutely terrific when he came into the Swiss national team and has been very good for Basel in Europe, scoring at the highest level. He looked to be going elsewhere, but I think he made a smart move to go to the Bundesliga where he will play more often. It’s so important to be playing every week when you are 20 or 21. He did take his time with his first move. After all, he has been fated for greatness since he was 17. He’s a terrific finisher. Very intelligent. He’s a big guy who can take a battering but has a nice touch and can see a pass. He’s definitely one to watch this season.
The key for him is to get fit. In the first game, he looked his chubby worst. When he’s on form, he can release an attack with the best of them. Even last year, he started off with Atletico like he ended with Porto, but faded. He’s always struggled with weight, which will matter in such a fast paced league, thus fitness will be his key. And he may play forward at times as they see that he can’t run enough to play central midfield all the time.
He is a great finisher: ice cold in front of goal. Good with both feet and good in the air too. He’s the guy you want when you have to have a goal. It might take a while to transition from Russia, but the Christmas break will help. I don’t think Pogrebnyak is inferior as a finisher to Huntelaar who would have cost 4x as much. He fell a bit of the radar due to his injury during the Euros but he is far superior to Pavlyuchenko, who is good, but wouldn’t have been noticed by the likes of Tottenham had it not been for the injury.
I asked about Hleb in respect to Martin Lanig and whether his progress would suffer.
It’s all about having a squad. The thing that can derail teams, that out-do expectations, is dealing with the extra games, therefore Hleb will help them rather than derail Lanig. And it’s a good deal, as Barca are paying part of his wages.
I didn’t ask about Sami Khedira, but he did volunteer that he thinks the Stuttgart midfielder is going to be a really big star in the next 5 years.
Another player he offered up was Wolfsburg midfielder Karim Ziani. He is is defintely one to watch. He was underused at Marseille, who had an abundance of attacking midfielders, but he could be a terrific signing.
I want to thank Andy for his time, as he allowed me to stray off-point to talk about Spurs at times. That was kind of him.