(Reuters) - After criticising Bayern Munich’s transfer policy in an outspoken interview, Robert Lewandowski did his talking on the pitch against Anderlecht on Tuesday to kickstart the German side’s Champions League campaign.
The Pole’s forthright comments suggesting Bayern no longer compete in the transfer market dominated the build-up to the Group B game, with the club further unsettled by Thomas Mueller talking about a possible move away and reports that Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann is lined up to succeed Carlo Ancelotti as manager.
A 2-0 weekend defeat to Nagelsmann’s present side confirmed Bayern’s worst start to a league campaign in six years and Lewandowski’s outburst led to a rare public rebuke by CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who indicated that the Pole should stick to what he is good at.
Anyone doubting what that might be had to wait just 10 minutes into Tuesday’s game as Lewandowski threatened on goal before being hacked down by Sven Kums, who was given a red card.
The Pole got up, dusted himself down and scored Bayern’s opener from the penalty spot.
Lewandowski is due to make his 100th Bundesliga appearance against Mainz on Saturday, having scored 80 goals in his previous 99, and still looks as lethal as when he made his debut three years ago.
Keeping him happy will be high on Bayern’s list of priorities as they seek a first Champions League trophy in four years.
Next up is a trip to Paris Saint Germain, presumably one team Poland’s captain had in mind when he complained that penny-pinching Bayern needed an injection of world-class talent after falling behind Europe’s elite.
Although Tuesday’s 3-0 scoreline sounded convincing, Bayern illustrated Lewandowski’s point by struggling for long periods to see off a side who played with 10 men for so long.
“It was not a top performance but we got a win that we needed,” said a slightly downbeat Ancelotti. “We had a lot of chances but we were not focussed. Sometimes it happens.”
Besides Lewandowski, Ancelotti must now deal with another disgruntled player in Franck Ribery who, to the Italian’s obvious bemusement, publicly discarded his shirt as he walked off after being substituted in the 77th minute.
“Ribery had a yellow card so I decided to sub him off and give him a rest. He was clearly angry. You have to ask him why.
“I can understand that he wants to play 90 minutes but I cannot understand his reaction,” said Ancelotti.
Winger Arjen Robben also played down Bayern’s win. “There was no tempo to our game — we needed to show a bit more desire,” he said. “The crowd deserved more; we have to give more.”
Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Clare Fallon