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The tale of two talismans

By ESPN Staff

Bayern coach Magath brushes off Ruud snub

TOKYO, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Bayern Munich coach Felix Magath has brushed off the club's failure to sign Ruud van Nistelrooy, as well as the loss of Michael Ballack to Chelsea.

Manchester United striker Van Nistelrooy opted for Real Madrid instead of Bayern, who missed Ballack's presence in Monday's 1-0 pre-season defeat by Japan's Urawa Reds.

'I wasn't that disappointed not to sign van Nistelrooy,' Magath said. 'We were interested if the terms were right for us but signing another striker wasn't an absolute priority.'

He added: 'Other clubs came in and were prepared to invest more than us and we felt there was no point breaking the bank to sign him.'

Magath acknowledged Ballack's contribution in helping the team win three Bundesliga titles during his four years with the club but backed Bayern to cope without the Germany captain.

'Obviously Michael was a big player and a big personality at Bayern,' he said. 'Most of our play went through him and the team was to some degree structured around him.

'We need to become more flexible but I also think we can become a more attractive side.'

Ballack joined English champions Chelsea on a free transfer before the World Cup but Magath was still positive about Bayern's hopes of challenging for trophies at home and in Europe.

'I have no worries about that,' he said. 'I expect this team to be just as successful as we were before.'

Signing Germany striker Lukas Podolski from Cologne has helped soften the blow of failing to lure Van Nistelrooy to the club, despite Monday's late defeat by Urawa.

Podolski, whose goals helped hosts Germany reach the World Cup semi-finals, looked sharp on his debut and twice came close to scoring for Bayern.

Bayern's general manager Uli Hoeness was keen to draw a line under the Van Nistelrooy saga, declaring that the club were never prepared to pay over the odds for the Dutch striker.

'Had we offered what United wanted we would have had the player,' said Hoeness. 'But we would have had to do things that go against the philosophy of Bayern Munich.

'We didn't want to make the club successful for just one season but for the future too. I was upset for a day but then I told myself life goes on.'