Bayern Munich respects, regrets sudden departure of longtime doctor
MUNICH (AP) — Bayern Munich said Friday it regrets the sudden departure of its longtime team doctor and his staff, whose surprise move has revealed tension in the club as it faces a possible exit from the Champions League.
Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt announced Thursday that he was stepping down after nearly four decades with the club, saying he had been unjustifiably blamed for the 3-1 loss to FC Porto a day earlier.
In a statement, the doctor said the club's "medical department was made primarily responsible for the defeat for inexplicable reasons."
The 72-year-old Mueller-Wohlfahrt, who is also the German national team doctor, said the trust necessary for a successful working relationship has been damaged.
Bayern coach Pep Guardiola said Friday it was the doctor's personal choice.
"I can only respect this decision," Guardiola said.
"If we lose, it's always my fault, nobody else's," Guardiola said. "If a player is injured, it's not the fault of doctors, an injury is an injury, it happens."
Bayern officials prevented Guardiola from taking more questions on the doctor's departure.
"Bayern Munich regrets the decision of club doctor Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt to quit," Bayern said, adding the doctor and his staff had provided "first-class work" for the club and its players.
Bayern is battling a series of injuries to key players as it enters the decisive stage of the season seeking a repeat of its treble in 2013.
In Porto, Bayern was missing, among others, wingers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. The return leg of the quarterfinals is on Tuesday in Munich.
Bayern's honorary president Franz Beckenbauer placed the blame for the loss squarely on the players who were healthy.
"With this performance, you don't win anything," Beckenbauer said during a news conference at the club's U.S. office. "Sometimes, you can say the left back, he played bad, or the right back, or the goalkeeper made a mistake. But in this game, all players on the field — nada."
Bayern plays at Hoffenheim on Saturday in the Bundesliga and will be also without Philipp Lahm, who is out with a stomach problem. Bastian Schweinsteiger, David Alaba and Javi Martinez are also nursing injuries.
Guardiola and Mueller-Wohlfahrt reportedly have had differences before on the treatment on injured players and their long recovery.
The Spanish coach wanted to have a doctor present all the time at the team's training ground to prevent long commutes for injured players to Mueller-Wohlfahrt's downtown practice. Bayern accepted the demand and employed Mueller-Wohlfahrt's son.
Mueller-Wohlfahrt also quit the post during Jurgen Klinsmann's 10-month tenure as Bayern coach during the 2008-09 season, only to return the day after Klinsmann's firing.