Carlo Ancelotti has said he doesn’t feel under any added pressure after former Bayern players Dietmar Hamann and Steffen Effenberg criticised his management.
Dietmar Hamann told Sky Deutschland Ancelotti is “under pressure” for failing to develop young players “in the way the club expected,” adding there’s a “good chance” Bayern would fail to win the Bundesliga this season.
“Last year he had three of the best young players in Europe with Kingsley Coman, Joshua Kimmich and Renato Sanches in his squad,” Hamann said, but added none of them had developed sufficiently under Ancelotti.
Former Bayern captain Steffen Effenberg said this could prove to be Ancelotti’s final season at the club, and it would not surprise him if Bayern failed to win the Champions League over the next 10 years.
Responding to the remarks, Ancelotti said: “There are a lot of critics but I don’t feel the pressure. I like to be here, I like my club, my players, and my supporters. I cannot say Effenberg or Hamann are wrong — as everyone can have their opinion in football.
“We have to respect these opinions but I don’t feel under pressure from these critics. These have to be balanced with the opinions of the people that work with you and the supporters.”
Ancelotti confirmed that Arjen Robben and David Alaba will return for Saturday’s DFB Pokal opening round match in Chemnitz.
Robben, 33, missed the Bayern’s 12-day tour of China and Singapore, opting to remain in Munich to continue his recovery from a calf injury he picked up playing tennis while on holiday.
The Netherlands captain also missed the Audi Cup at the start of the month and Bayern’s German Super Cup penalty shootout win over Borussia Dortmund last weekend, while Alaba, 25, limped off late on in the 3-0 Audi Cup defeat to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool with a foot injury, but like Robben, has returned to training in midweek.
“Robben and Alaba are fit,” Ancelotti said. “I don’t think they will start the game, but will play in the second half.
“Tomorrow is an important game and I’ll select the best team.”
However, Ancelotti said Thiago Alcantara, Jerome Boateng, Manuel Neuer, James Rodriguez and Juan Bernat would all miss the trip to eastern Germany, adding that he would resist the temptation to experiment against the third division side.
However, Ancelotti was hopeful Neuer would be available for Bayern’s opening Bundesliga game against Leverkusen next Friday.
Neuer returned to training in midweek but has not played since suffering a broken metatarsal during the Champions League quarterfinal second leg defeat to Real Madrid in April.
“We are pleased with the way things are going with Manu at the moment. He has started individual training and everything is going to plan. We shall see if there’s a reaction in the next few days and then we will decide,” Ancelotti said.
However, there was less positive news about central defender Jerome Boateng, whose comeback has stalled.
Boateng suffered an injury-ravaged campaign last season, starting only 10 games as Bayern won a fifth successive Bundesliga title. He picked up a thigh injury during the final game of last season and has not played since — despite aiming to return for the start of preseason.
“He’s still doing individual training. In the past, he’s had major problems and we want to be sure with him — he’ll only play again when he’s 100 percent fit,” Ancelotti said.
Ancelotti said Bayern would not be taking any chances on the fitness of injured trio Martinez, James and Thiago with a break in action looming early next month.
“They don’t have big problems and it’s only the start of the season. We do not have to take any risks if the players are not 100 percent. We only have two games then it’s the international break — I think all the players can recover during the international break.”
Following five defeats in six preseason games, Bayern won their first trophy of the season with a 7-6 penalty shootout win over Borussia Dortmund in the German Super Cup last weekend.
Meanwhile, FIFA referee Bibiana Steinhaus will officiate in her first Bayern game.
Commenting on Steinhaus’ appointment, Ancelotti said: “It’s a premiere for me too with a female referee and a new experience. She was very good in last year’s Champions League between PSG and Lyon. It’s not a problem for us and I wish her all the best.”
Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.