Monday, October 3, 2011
Manuel Neuer - breaking records and going for more
As Bayern Munich drew this weekend 0-0 with Hoffenheim, a piece of Munich history was made. New goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has already left his mark on the Bavarians history by breaking Oliver Kahn’s previous record of time without conceding a goal. Neuer has now gone 1018 minutes without conceding a goal in all competitions surpassing the previous record which Kahn held (1013 minutes). That’s 11 games without conceding a goal.
Neuer, 25, is arguably becoming one of the top Goalkeepers in world football at the moment and very few keepers in world Football can match his feats or perform to his level. His move this summer to Bayern Munich from Shalke 04 was seen as the catalyst that would take him a step further in his relatively young career. So far, Neuer is matching, and surpassing, the expectations that were put on his young shoulders upon his move. However, it hasn’t been all joy and fun for the 6ft4 keeper. When he first arrived to the Allianz Arena he was given a tough reception by Bayern’s “ultras”. During their pre-season friendly vs Trentino, a banner was put up for him to read clearly “You can save as many balls as you like. We will never accept you in our shirt”.
They gave Neuer a code of conduct for him to follow, which included that Neuer shall never:
1) Sing Bayern chants on their megaphone, a tradition for popular players.
2) Kneel in front of the team and sing the "Humba" song.
3) Approach the South stand, where the Bayern Ultras sit.
4) Throw his shirt into the crowd.
5) Kiss the Bayern badge on his shirt.
A bit harsh in my opinion, and I bet those “ultras” must be forgiving the big man now. His transfer fee of €18 million is the third most expensive transfer fee for a goalkeeper in the history of Football and he’s already proving his worth around Europe with his saves, consistency and presence in the box.
The reason for this is not only because he’s a self-confessed fan of Bayern’s rivals Shalke 04 (even though he left them to join Munich anyways), but because a few years ago he had the balls to make fun of Oliver Kahn, the legend, by mimicking a celebration of his in front of Bayern fans while he was still at Shalke. That hasn’t been forgotten by Bayern’s “ultras” and he has to make it up to them to earn their respect.
With ¾ of the season still to go, Neuer could still break the European all-time record for not conceding a goal which was set by Dany Verlinden in the 1980s while playing for Brugges which stands at 1390 minutes without conceding a goal. If he keeps up his current form he could do it; he'll need to hold his ground for the next 5 games to do so, and there's no reason why he can't do it. Edwin Van Der Sar came close a couple of years ago, and couldn’t; so it’d be good to have a young keeper break it soon.
I personally hope Neuer does it. Not only because I believe he’s a World Class keeper, but also because he’ll be able to prove the “ultra” doubters wrong. He’s still very young and has a good 12-13 years ahead of him, so he could end up being one of the great goalkeepers of all-time if he keeps up at this pace. With this current Bayern side playing the way they are and maintaining this sort of form, there's no reason why Neuer can't break the record. 5 games to go to break it, I hope I haven't jinxed him...