Thomas, who wears number 13 for the all-conquering Nationalmannschaft akin to his legendary goalscoring namesake Gerd Muller, has played in almost all offensive positions for both Germany and Bayern, but would now be considered most at home in the right side berth given to him by Louis Van Gaal, who reverted him there from an out an out number 9.
This is where the new Football Manager position “Raumdeuter” has been created, and given the evident confusion over what the position actually is, we at the Raumdeuter thought that it would only be right for us to give a definitive answer.
“Raumdeuter” (pronounced Rowm-Doy-Ter) is a relatively new term, coined here by German World Cup (2014) and World Cup Golden Boot (2010) winner Thomas Muller, in an article entitled simply “Ich Bin ein Raumdeuter“.
Its meaning is generally given as “space interpreter” or “space investigator”, but given the term is a corruption of “Traumdeuter”, the German for dream interpreter, we will go with the former.
History of the Raumdeuter
After making his debut as a late substitute for Miroslav Klose against HSV in August 2008, Muller rise to prominence truly kicked off in the 2009-2010 season, when Louis van Gaal gave him a 3 year contract and stated quite clearly “Müller spielt bei mir mimer”, meaning “Muller plays with me always” (ignore the innuendo, this is a serious article guys.).
Muller started the season strongly and won the player of the month in September, the month in which he turned 20. Deployed in a central striking role, flanked not too shabbily by Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, he grabbed 13 goals and 11 assists. Tellingly, he made an appearance in every game as Bayern won a domestic double and he personally picked up a place in the Bundesliga team of the season as well as kicker’s award for best newcomer.
Originally a small doubt for the German World Cup squad after falling off a bicycle, Muller ominously took the 13 jersey of the injured Schwarz und weiß captain Michael Ballack. Despite never having never scored an international goal before, Muller returned to Bavaria with the Golden Boot and a bronze medal.
The best of the 2010 World Cup. 🌎🏆
Thomas Müller (Golden Boot) 👟
Diego Forlán (Golden Ball) ⚽️
Iker Casillas (Golden Glove) 🧤 pic.twitter.com/DfEYJkqUNQ
— Football Tweet (@Football__Tweet) April 10, 2020
It could have been so different but for an ill-fated handball in the 4-1 demolition of England, a game in which Muller had scored twice and created another. The lacklustre Raumdeuter-less performance against Argentina in the semis would have been painful for Thomas to watch, but also have served as a reminder of his own ability.
Style of the Raumdeuter
Muller’s intelligence on the pitch is nearly unrivalled. While not appearing to excel at any particular part of the game, his forethought and decisiveness elevate his ability manifestly
Muller has joked that until Luis Gustavo joined the club he had the skinniest legs at the club, and he also attributes the development of his mental game to a lack of great physical ability in his youth.
Muller describes his use of space as instinctive, rather than coached, and he is hugely grateful for the gifts the footballing gods have bestowed upon him (“Aber oft ist das schon ein gewisser Instinkt, ein Gefühl für die Räume. Ich bin froh, diese Fähigkeit zu haben.”).
Joachim Low, for whom Muller has scored 10 World Cup goals, said “Thomas 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?” The number of goals Muller scores like the one below against Mainz, where the defence simply cannot process what is happening on the pitch as fast as him is remarkable.
While not the most beautiful goal in the world, the level of anticipation of the Raumdeuter is world-class in itself. Check it out. He stops looking at the ball. It doesn’t seem like the oddest thing in the world but just consider it for a second. HE STOPS LOOKING AT THE BALL. For the Raumdeuter, space is king.
Despite more often than not being concerned with matters in the opposition’s half of the pitch, Muller often tracks back to use his interpretive abilities in his own box. Gifted with excellent stamina as well as an excellent reading of the game, he is happy to do an economical job covering the full-back if necessary but in Bayern’s possession-based system this isn’t often necessary.
This block on Jordi Alba in the 7-0 destruction of Barcelona at the Allianz was entirely legal, and stopped a goalscoring opportunity that was to occur 4-5 seconds in the future.
In Football Manager Terms
As mentioned above, you are now able to deploy a Raumdeuter in Football Manager 2015. A variety of the wing positions, it could be described as a poacher on the wings.
If you use a fluid system where your players are allowed to roam, you allow your players a certain amount of creativity and you like to pass into space then the Raumdeuter might just be for you. You’d also ideally want your striker to have a support mentality and also to roam around a bit to concede the space interpreter space to interpret.
Ironically Bayern have since changed their style and system somewhat since the introduction of the Raumdeuter and it may in fact not be suitable for replication of Pep’s latest dalliances such as the 3-4-3.
The Legacy of the Raumdeuter
While players such as Cruyff, Sindelar and Xavi have all interpreted the dimensions of the field of play in new-fangled and elaborate ways that have changed the way their successors viewed the game, it is fitting of the efficient nature of the Raumdeuter’s interpretation that he felt the need to categorise those that seek to control the space first and the ball second.
It will be interesting to see how Muller continues to influence football, and I can’t wait to hear a commentator be watching a League One game and hear a commentator describe a player as a “pacy Raumdeuter”.