Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich’s new coach Carlo Ancelotti has defended veteran winger Franck Ribery, who has been dubbed ‘a ticking time-bomb’ in the German media after a string of on-field tussles.
Bayern start the new Bundesliga season on Friday at home to Werder Bremen and Ancelotti says people are getting carried away in their criticism of Ribery.
“People are currently exaggerating a little in terms of Ribery,” the Italian told broadcaster Sport1.
“History has shown us that he has always been a correct (well-behaved) player.”
But Ribery has been involved in a series of scuffles during recent matches.
The 33-year-old shoved his elbow in the face of Borussia Dortmund midfielder Felix Passlack during a challenge in Bayern’s 2-0 German Super Cup win a fortnight ago.
Then at minnows Carl Zeiss Jena last Friday, the Frenchman struck a Jena defender on the head while vying for the ball in a 5-0 romp in the first-round of the German Cup.
He also pushed over Inter Milan’s Felipe Melo during a match on Bayern’s pre-season tour of the USA in July.
Ribery, whose contract expires in June, was not sent off for any of the fouls, only booked for the incidents with Melo and Passlack.
Ex-Bundesliga referee Thorsten Kinhofer described Ribery as a “ticking time-bomb”.
“Sure, he gets fouled a lot, but he is also easily irritated,” Kinhofer added in German daily Bild.
“The opponents try to make use of that by provoking him.
“It can also be tactics. The question is whether he’s willing to learn at his age.”
But Ancelotti says the matter should be put to bed as Bayern attempt to win a fifth straight league title in his first season in charge after replacing Pep Guardiola.
“I think we should forget the matter and leave it at that,” he said.
“He (Ribery) has trained well and is ready to start the new season.”
Meanwhile, Ancelotti has said Bayern’s veteran captain Philipp Lahm, 32, who has a contract until 2018, could emulate Italian icon Paolo Maldini, who won the Champions League in 2007 with AC Milan at the age of 39.
“And he (Maldini) did that with big health problems, especially his knees,” said Ancelotti.
“Lahm doesn’t have those, he is fit, trains very well and is always the first (at training) and the last to leave.
“I am convinced he can play until he’s 39.”
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