Saturday, 18 April 2015

Pep Guardiola and Bayern Munich doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt were at loggerheads for months... his resignation gives the manager even more power

  • Bayern Munich doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt quit this week
  • His resignation came after Pep Guardiola blamed defeat by Porto on injuries
  • The pair fell out as early as November over the treatment of Philipp Lahm
  • Guardiola now has even more power and could stay at Bayern for a long time
  • Manchester City want to bring him in as manager but he is unlikely to leave
  • Guardiola, who is impatient with injuries, could even agree a new deal
  • Former Barcelona boss has denied a rift with his medical staff this week 
It was the sort of training ground accident that can happen to anyone, but it had far-reaching consequences for Philipp Lahm. So too, indirectly, for Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt.

Lahm's tackle on a team-mate at Bayern Munich's training ground on the outskirts of the city appeared innocuous enough, until a scream of pain pierced the morning air and a frantic wave signalled he was in trouble.

As players milled round him, and a physio inspected the damage, the call went out for expert medical help. There wasn't any. To the dismay of Pep Guardiola, there wasn't a single qualified doctor on site.

Bayern Munich doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt quit this week after a reported rift with Pep Guardiola
The pair fell out over an injury to Philipp Lahm during training as early as November last year
As Lahm lay on the turf with what was later diagnosed as a broken ankle, the physio tended to him as best he could, while an ambulance was summoned to take him to a local hospital.

Muller-Wohlfahrt, meanwhile, was at his city centre clinic, nearly eight miles away. It was last November, and from that day on, the 72-year-old's days as head of Bayern's medical department were numbered.

They finally ended after Bayern's Champions' League defeat at Porto, when Guardiola went public with his displeasure over recovery rates for injured players by blaming a lengthening injury list for his side's quarter-final first-leg demise.

It was more than the world-renowned specialist could stomach, and he promptly walked away from the Bundesliga champions for a second time, taking the rest of his staff with him.

He quit in high dudgeon once before, after a fall-out with Jurgen Klinsmann, but there will be no coming back this time. Not as long as Guardiola holds the reins. And that may just be for quite a while yet.

The Bayern boss is aware Manchester City long to install him as replacement for Manuel Pellegrini, even if it means waiting another 12 months for his contract to expire, but the latest ructions at The Allianz Arena have evidently done nothing to increase their chances.

Bayern doctor Muller-Wohlfahrt is a world-renowned specialist and quit after Guardiola's injury complaints
The 72-year-old had been at Bayern for almost 40 years but is now unlikely to return to the Bundesliga club
Unseemly though his undermining of Muller-Wohlfahrt may have been, there was only ever going to be one winner. And, by all accounts, when his hand was raised in triumph, it strengthened his hold on power like never before.

Dispiritingly for City, the former Barcelona manager reaffirmed, at his Friday press conference, that he will 'for sure' honour the remaining year on his contract, ruling out any hope of a deal being struck with Etihad bosses this summer.

Beyond that, he could even commit himself to a further spell in charge, according to a Bayern insider, who told Sportsmail: 'There is no question that Bayern will do absolutely everything in their power to persuade Guardiola to sign another contract.

'There will be negotiations after the season is finished, and there is an air of confidence within the club that he will agree. It is far from certain, but, interestingly, the departure of Muller-Wohlfahrt makes it more probable, rather than less so.

Muller-Wohlfahrt (fourth from left) sits behind Pep Guardiola during the defeat by Porto this week
Manchester City long to bring in Guardiola to replace Manuel Pellegrini but they may have to wait for him
'That was a problem, because they had many disagreements over the treatment of injured players. Now he has gone, Guardiola is in a stronger position than ever. That is clear, because when Muller- Wohlfahrt said he was leaving, the club made no attempt to talk him out of it. They simply accepted it and said thanks very much.

'Pep has got his own way again, and that could play a part when they sit down in the summer to discuss a new deal.'

So what went wrong between them? How could it be that a vastly- experienced and hugely-respected surgeon with a track record for rescuing stellar careers imperilled by injury failed to meet Guardiola's requirements as club doctor?

Certainly, availability was a major issue. Sportsmail has learned that one of Guardiola's stipulations, after taking over from Jupp Heynckes, was that the club doctor should be at the training ground every single time the players were there.

Dante, Sebastian Rode, Lahm and Robert Lewandowski (L-R) trudge off the pitch after defeat in Porto
Muller-Wohlfahrt has worked with the German national team as well as athletes including Usain Bolt

Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt has often courted controversy with his methods.

He claims that a substance called Hyalart, which is extracted from the crest of cockerels, helps lubricate knee injuries and take away pain.

He also swears by Actovegin, an amino acid preparation derived from calves' blood.

In 2009, he prescribed more than 50 injections of goat's blood to St Johnstone striker Peter MacDonald for his hamstring injury.

Among those to have been treated by him are Ronaldo, Usain Bolt, Michael Owen and Jose Maria Olazabal.

Muller-Wohlfahrt claims to have administered more than one million injections, at least half of which have been to athletes.

A stickler for detail, he wanted to ensure any mishap could be dealt with expertly at a moment's notice and made it clear it was an instruction to be adhered to by Muller-Wohlfahrt.

It placed club bosses in a quandary, not for the last time, as Muller-Wohlfahrt pointed out he had a steady stream of high-profile patients to his city centre practice, not least the likes of Usain Bolt, and that he could ill-afford to desert his post to spend day after day at the club's training facility.

Irked by Muller-Wohlfahrt's defiance, it soon became apparent to Guardiola that they were diametrically opposed when it came to policy over ushering players back from injury.

In a nutshell, Guardiola wanted players declared fit and pencilled in for selection as rapidly as possible, whereas care and caution were the key words for Muller-Wohlfahrt.

It drove Guardiola to distraction, according to the club insider, who said: 'Pep has never been the most patient about players' recovery time. If there is an injury, he expects it to clear up. He wants the players back on the pitch, but it wasn't happening.

'Muller-Wohlfahrt is the opposite. He takes the view that you have to be patient and allow the healing process to take its course. He wants a player to be in perfect condition when he returns and argues that rushing people back runs the risk of a fresh injury. Really, it's no wonder they were at loggerheads.'

Guardiola wanted players declared fit as rapidly as possible, but Muller-Wohlfahrt wanted care and caution

Muller-Wohlfahrt prescribed a course of action for a nagging injury to Thiago Alcantara but was overruled.
Muller-Wohlfahrt prescribed a course of action for a nagging injury to Thiago Alcantara but was overruled.

As a further insight into the core differences between the pair, Muller-Wohlfahrt prescribed a specific course of action for a nagging injury to Thiago Alcantara but was overruled.

The midfielder suffered damage to the same area of his knee three times in quick succession, and Muller-Wohlfahrt was adamant he should attend the veteran medic's clinic in Colorado for specialised treatment.

Guardiola was having none of it and, instead, arranged for Thiago to undergo treatment in Barcelona, where, to Muller-Wohlfahrt's exasperation, surgery was followed by recuperation and an eventual return to the Bayern squad.

Usain Bolt was one of many athletes to benefit from Muller-Wohlfahrt's treatment at the London Olympics

Guardiola is now in the strongest position he has ever been at Bayern and he could agree a new deal there
If protesting to the Bayern boss was futile, trying to appeal to Thiago was just as pointless. His agent is none other than Guardiola's brother, Pere. The odds were stacked ever-higher against Muller-Wohlfahrt, and his resignation on Friday morning was merely confirmation the Guardiola empire is not about to be overthrown.

City must now wait to see if the Spaniard's Bavarian rule is about to be extended, as forecast with growing confidence in Munich circles.

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