Our mentality is to win another treble, says Bayern Munich’s Serge Gnabry
Exactly five years ago, Serge Gnabry was in the middle of a disastrous loan spell at West Brom. The German winger was unable to find game time and was criticised by Tony Pulis, then West Brom manager, as not being “at that level to play the games.” Half a decade later, having tasted success with German and European champions Bayern Munich, Gnabry said he is still frequently asked about his time in West Midlands.
“You always hear a little bit about it. People back in the UK ask me about it. It looks like it won’t stop. I am aware of it. All I can say is that I am proud of the journey that I have taken to be a Champions League winner now when a couple of years back I was doubted. It’s obviously a great thing for me,” the former Arsenal player told reporters in a video interaction on Thursday.
“It’s always hard to point out one thing that has helped me. After having struggled a lot (in England), it was difficult to pick myself up. I think the biggest thing was my self-confidence—that I knew what I was capable of—I never lost that. The second biggest point for me was that I was playing a lot (after moving back to Germany), not having so many injuries or so many little things that kept me out of games, and just being consistent.”
A season after moving to Werder Bremen from Arsenal in 2016, Gnabry’s impressive showing earned him a transfer to Bayern. The next season, he was loaned to Hoffenheim. But after returning in 2018, Gnabry has become a mainstay at Bayern, helping them win back-to-back Bundesliga titles and the treble last season.
The hunger for trophies remains unchanged after last season’s Champions League triumph, Gnabry said. “I hope we haven’t hit our pinnacle yet. Our mentality is to win another treble,” he said. “I don’t think we are satisfied with knowing that our opponents are beaten. We like to play attacking football, get behind the defence. We have got pace on our wings and a striker (Robert Lewandowski) who scores in every game.”
This Saturday, Hansi Flick-coached Bayern face the first major challenge of their domestic campaign when they visit Borussia Dortmund for the season’s first Der Klassiker. Gnabry said Bayern head into the game as favourites but know they cannot underestimate Dortmund. “For Dortmund, I am happy that they are playing good football and winning games. For Bayern, it’s more enjoyable when you win against a team that is maybe on eye level with you. We are still favourites going into the game but we know it’s going to be hard,” he said.
Asked about the hectic schedule this season, especially for Bayern who didn’t have a long mid-season break because of their European engagements, Gnabry said: “I am not going to lie, it’s not easy… I don’t know if it’s healthy in the long run, not just for your body but also for your mental side.”
Former Dortmund goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, who had also donned the No. 1 jersey for Germany and Arsenal, insisted that Saturday would be the “perfect time” for Lucien Favre’s side to beat the defending champions.
“They (Dortmund) have a good chance because Bayern Munich, although capable of scoring many goals, are a little bit tired right now. It’s not a surprise because after so many games, after the Champions League they’ve won, the team needs time to recover.
“I think if Borussia Dortmund can manage to keep a high possession percentage, Bayern won’t like it. There will be different phases of the game where you have to be cautious as Dortmund but you will get chances, dominate some parts of the game and you will have to score in these parts of the game,” he said in an online video discussion.
“The next two weeks will be an international break and I think the players will rest a little bit. But for Saturday, it’s a perfect time for Borussia Dortmund to have a chance to beat them. Because after two weeks, you never know, Bayern may recover well.”