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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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By ESPN Staff

Ballack lifts lid on feud with Bierhoff

Germany captain Michael Ballack has revealed his row with national team manager Oliver Bierhoff stemmed from his personal feelings that football was not taking priority in the squad.

The Germany captain was reported to have exchanged words with Bierhoff following Euro 2008 when he refused to hold up a banner to the fans in the wake of their defeat to Spain in the final.

Things have remained tense between then pair since, but Ballack revealed the situation has now been resolved following a telephone conversation last week.

However, the Chelsea midfielder admitted much of his frustration was due to the fact he felt the Germany management were putting "fun" before football.

In an interview with Germany's Tagesspiegel am Sonntag newspaper, Ballack said: "This banner was not the reason, it was just what sparked it off.

"We did not argue because he told me to hold this banner up to the fans, that is certainly not the reason, but that is now dealt with as far as I am concerned.

"(Former Germany coach) Jurgen Klinsmann was the first to take things in this direction, together with Oliver Bierhoff.

"It has just developed from there. The players like it - we are only human after all - but when you lose a grip on what counts, then you have got to do something about it.

"Before, organising our free time had never been an issue and it was normal to be shielded off from everything, but then the contact to the fans became more intensive.

"I am all in favour of fun, but football must take priority."

Ballack is grateful that in England training sessions are not open to the public, as they are in Germany.

"Arsenal's coach Arsene Wenger once wisely said that the training field is for work and the stadium is for the fans," Ballack continued.

"Of course there should be training sessions open to the public, but not always.

"In the summer, during the holidays, there would be 5,000 people each day at training with Bayern Munich and that makes it hard to concentrate.

"It is not all about locking the fans out, but the players must be able to train professionally and that is the same in any job.

"As a player, I like the situation in England and everybody who is new to England finds it great. It is very comforting when you can work in peace all week."

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