Tuesday 28 March 2017

Neuer defies opposition and boo-boys

Mark Ogden

Manuel Neuer has taken 838 minutes to turn down the volume on his Bayern Munich tormentors, yet the goalkeeper will always be one second away from reigniting the bitterness and hostility that has made him the enemy within at the Allianz Arena.

Germany's first-choice 'keeper, the man many Manchester United supporters yearned to see at Old Trafford as Edwin van der Sar's replacement, has made a stunning start to life at Bayern on the pitch -- conceding just one goal and extending his shut-out run to almost 900 minutes ahead of tonight's clash against Manchester City. But his performances between the sticks tell only half of the story.

Off the pitch, Neuer remains locked in a battle to win over the supporters who never wanted to him in a Bayern shirt in the first place, thanks largely to his perceived goading of the Bayern fans during his time at Schalke.

When Carlos Tevez defected from United to City in July 2009, the Argentinian was smothered with love by the Blues and treated with scorn by the Reds. He was even afforded a 'Welcome to Manchester' billboard in his honour by his new employers.

But the only welcoming committee for Neuer following his acrimonious £15m summer transfer from Schalke to Bayern -- think Leeds-Manchester United in the rivalry stakes -- was a menacing banner unfurled by the Munich supporters prior to a 15-0 victory over Italian part-timers Trentino. "You can save as many balls as you like," it read. "But we will never accept you in our shirt."

He is loathed by the Schalke supporters who once adored the boyhood supporter in their goal and now vilified by the Bayern fans who continue to regard him as an unwelcome outsider.

Neuer, described by Peter Schmeichel as "probably the best goalkeeper in the world" following his heroic performance for Schalke in last season's Champions League semi-final defeat against United at the Veltins Arena, could have settled for the easy life by rejecting Bayern's advances and giving Alex Ferguson the encouragement to develop his interest before the Scot settled on David de Gea as the long-term successor to Edwin van der Sar at Old Trafford.

Instead he chose Bayern and, in an effort to win over their fans, agreed to a code of conduct issued by a group of Bayern 'Ultras', which, among other things, forbids him to sing the traditional 'Humba' song, throw his shirt into the crowd, or kiss the Bayern badge. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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