Understanding Thomas Muller on a personal level is probably a good deal easier than interpreting him as a football player. Down to earth, from a small village in Bavaria, married to his childhood sweetheart, Thomas Muller is just your average Joe. Everything from his unnotable, modest upbringing down to his gangly posture and unorthodox running style, he looks more like an IT technician than a footballer. Qualities that add to the beauty (and bite) of his game.
Unpredictable is probably an unfair assessment of Thomas Muller’s style of play. Being unpredictable insinuates that he has his bad days, and is much more one dimensional than he really is, but in reality, the most under the radar player on the pitch is often the most dangerous, Muller is the perfect example of that.
Incredibly self aware, Muller was once asked to describe himself in one word as a footballer. Raumdeuter [interpreter of space] is what he came up with and for someone who, more often than not, escapes description on a football pitch, the way in which he explores unheard of positions during a game could have no more of a fitting, yet interesting title.
His ‘interpretation’ of space is what makes Thomas Muller so special, but deadly at the same time. His record domestically for Bayern Munich, much like Muller, is somewhat understated. 88 goals in just over 200 games makes you forget the amount of times Muller has scored, and granted, most of these probably weren’t anything more than simple tap ins or headers but it is this almost ghost-like goalscoring that is the epitome of his game. Thomas Muller scores, without you even realising he was there.
Internationally his threat is impossible to miss. Top goalscorer in his first World Cup at South Africa in ’10, Thomas Muller was the striker and ‘false nine’ that Joachim Lowe was begging for and duly received.
Lowe, much like all of Muller’s coaches has nothing but admiration and respect for the players hunger for goals and knack of goal-gettin.
“he is a very unorthodox player and you can’t really predict his lines of running, but he has one aim and that is ‘how can I score a goal?”
Two goals and an assist against England and opening the scoring against Argentina in the quarter final win added to his earlier group goal and pushed him into the fray for Golden Boot and Young Player of The Tournament.
Suspension meant he missed the semi final against Spain but a third place play off win where Muller scored in a 3-2 victory over Uruguay made sure he went home with some personal accolades at least, although Muller’s fantastic tournament was overshadowed by national disappointment.
Everyone knew of Mullers talent back in Germany and it wasn’t long before Van Gaal cemented him in his side ahead of (at the time) record signing Luca Toni. Played all over midfield and as a centre forward or target man, Muller managed to not only shapeshift into space but also into team positions, scoring modestly each season but contributing to the final goal of Bundesliga glory as he has so efficiently done since his inauguration in 2010.
Efficient. Now if that isn’t the cliche of Germany then nothing else is. But again, Thomas Muller is the embodiment of such a cliche. A player that does exactly what is asked of him and often when it’s not. His ability to chip in on the goals, whilst optimising the space he has around to create room for others means he’s one of, if not Germany and Bayern Munich’s most effective asset.
How Muller sees space or ‘interprets’ it if you prefer is unfathomable for most players. Occupying a position that most would deem pointless or unnecessary is often where you’ll find Muller, and with more often that not devastating results.
Along with global triumph at the most recent World Cup in 2014, Thomas Muller went on to score another five goals at the major tournament, making him only the third but youngest to do so at the age of 25. Instrumental in a German side that boasted youth and hunger he was the tournament’s second top goalscorer.
Muller’s value at Bayern is infinite. As Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Bayern CEO so bluntly put it when Muller was linked with Manchester United in the summer. It’s fruitless to even think of his homegrown club without him.
“we never even considered selling Thomas Muller…but you no longer need to send me anything. It is useless.'”
But internationally is where Muller continues to dominate. Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and even the great Gerd Muller whose namesake idolises, are all players that dominate also, but in different ways.
Dragging and pulling their sides through brute force goals has always been the aim of the latter mentioned strikers however for Germany’s newest No. 13 it’s how easy he makes it for his teammates to provide him with goals and his knack of knowing where to be that make everything else so seamless for Germany.
Euro 2016 approaches with Germany still set to hit their best form despite topping their group. Germany struggled against teams that asked questions against them in Group D and many will feel the World champions have a lot to prove in France. But that’s a personal feeling Muller has had to deal with before.
Bayern’s 26 year old has 25 goals in 36 appearances whilst also scoring 9 goals in 9 games during Euro 2016 qualification and those stats have slipped under the radar in what were pretty questionable performances for Germany and pretty routine Bundesliga circumstances for Bayern. But that’s exactly what you get with Muller and is the most dangerous way to underestimate him.