Mueller defends Bayern teammate Robben

AP, Tuesday 14 Feb 2012

The player who has taken Arjen Robben’s usual place on the Bayern Munich right wing, Thomas Mueller, has defended the Netherlands star against charges of selfishness

Arjen Robben

Robben was relegated to the reserves for Bayern’s last two games, with Mueller moving into his preferred spot on the right wing rather than playing deeper in the midfield. Bayern has won both games, with Mueller setting up two goals and scoring for the first time since September.

“We’ve heard this often before, but these charges of egoism don’t apply because one of the aspects of Arjen Robben’s game is that he is very strong in dribbling and you usually dribble alone,” Mueller told reporters Tuesday.

Mueller was the top scorer of the 2010 World Cup but accommodating both him and Robben has proven difficult for Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes.

Mueller is most effective on the right wing, as shown again in the last two games.

Bayern began the second half of the season by winning only one of its first three games and fell two points behind defending champion Borussia Dortmund. Heynckes finally reacted by keeping Robben on the bench. The often injured Robben had groin surgery in October and has scored five goals in 12 appearances this season, while playing below par most of the time.

“I had to do something and even make unpopular decisions,” Heynckes said Tuesday. “But is doesn’t mean that Arjen is now the 12th man forever.”

Robben did not come off the bench in German Cup win over Stuttgart and came on in the second half in the 2-0 victory over Kaiserslautern in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

The Dutchman came under fire over the weekend from former Bayern great Franz Beckenbauer, who is now the honorary chairman of the club.

Beckenbauer used a television appearance to accuse Robben of being selfish and egocentric and said the star who led Bayern to a domestic double and the Champions League final in 2010 had used up much of his credit.

Beckenbauer pointed out that Robben had a habit of running to salute his family in the stands, rather than celebrating with teammates after scoring a goal.

“He is selfish like so many others,” Beckenbauer said. “He has to think more of being useful to the team.”

Bayern captain Philipp Lahm has also defended Robben and said the topic was not part of discussions among the players.

The club has said it was looking to extend Robben’s contract beyond 2013 and he has said it was a “formality.”

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