Facing Bayern Munich once had teams shivering in their very shoes but times have changed and teams are no longer afraid of the Bavarians. Instead many welcome the challenge with the belief that defeat is no longer the only option and that begs the question, is Germany’s greatest champions dying?
A telling sign of when things start going bad is desperation and a club’s insistence to desperately stay relevant despite all their obvious struggles. It’s exactly what is happening at Bayern Munich right now and the Bavarians are really struggling. That’s not what their world looks like after a quick peek at the statistics, match records from this season and even a look at the teamsheet. If anything, that last bit while the most telling of all symptoms but it also happens to be a positive point.
Step back into reality and Bayern Munich are genuinely struggling to find themselves and for a team as well run as they were it's shocking. Their chase for their next manager is arguably the defining point of this argument and it’s flabbergasted a few. Having sacked Niko Kovac, a manager that never really seemed to take to Bavaria, Bayern Munich decided to look for alternatives in the form of Arsene Wenger, Erik ten Hag, Max Allegri, Thomas Tuchel, and Ralf Rangnick. Or so the rumour mill informed us and it’s their chase of Ralf Rangnick that showed just how bad things have become.
Within the space of four days, Bayern were linked with a move, then saw Rangnick deny that he was interested and then Bayern, representatives, revealed that they had rejected Rangnick and not the other way around. It shows just how badly the club needs to or rather has to keep that air of a perfectly run club and they failed to do that with the interweb, rather gracefully, calling them out on that. But now with a Champions League knockout place all but secure and no manager, they want, interested in the job, Bayern have given Hans Flick the job.
It’s the move of a club panicking after watching all their candidates disappear down into the sunset and with a change brewing in the Bundesliga, it’s the wrong move. For the second time in as many years, if things keep going this way, Bayern Munich will not be the Herbstmeister and instead, if things do indeed go this way, it will be Borussia Monchengladbach. The same team who won the last of their five Bundesliga titles at the end of the 1976/77 season. The same side that a little over ten years ago were sitting in the depths of the 2.Bundesliga and have never managed to finish higher than 3rd place since.
Yet, going into the November international break, Borussia Monchengladbach have a rather impressive four-point lead at the summit. And that’s not the only interesting titbit. England have 17 points separating 1st and 6th. Spain have 5 points, France have 11 and Italy have 10. Germany, on the other hand, have four separating 1st and 4th, five separating 1st and 5th and six separating the 1st and 6th. It’s shocked a few fans and certainly a few critics but that more than anything in the world proves that things are changing. But for some reason, the Bavarians haven’t adapted to anything. Instead, they moved along at their usual pace with a prayer that things will usually work out for them.
And the sheer fact that Robert Lewandowski has been at god-level this season adds to their problems. It’s bandaged over all their problems because the Pole has been indescribably good. At the moment, he’s averaging a more than a goal a game in the Bundesliga and the Champions League (22 goals in 15 games). No-one, barring Erling Haaland, even comes close to that tally. But barring that, Bayern are reeling and it’s evident everywhere you look. Their chase for Leroy Sane ended with an average Ivan Perisic and a Philippe Coutinho that still has PTSD after his war in Catalonia.
They’ve lost two legends of the game in Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery only to replace them with absolutely no-one. Backroom staff have indeed been leaving the club and so have their board members with Uli Hoeness, the latest to step down, and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge set to do the same within a year. It’s an uncertain future for a club that once broke their transfer record, twice, without it ever breaking social media. And yet, it’s a disaster all of their making. Everyone knows footballers don’t last forever and the same goes for presidents and chairmen.
And yet Bayern Munich decided against doing anything to help ease in a brand new era, a superstar to help take the pressure off everyone and instead opted to keep things exactly the same. However, the one thing you can’t hold against them is their lack of effort. They have been trying but things haven’t exactly gone according to plan for them so far. In the search for a new legacy and a manager to back that, they’re been incredibly picky. But they need to be and yet sacking their second permanent manager within four odd months into his second year is not the way.
It’s exactly why the Der Klassiker win meant next to nothing for them because it did nothing but remove them from the spotlight and turn it onto their other half instead. It’s nothing more than putting a bandage over a chainsaw wound and the Bavarians need that to change. Hans Flick gives them time to find someone new but maybe it’s time to take a breather before finding their way back into the world??
Manchester City did just that in Manuel Pellegrini’s final season as they laid a foundation for Pep Guardiola to use and took a break from winning league titles. Instead, they opted to, as Manchester City fans call it, let Leicester City win their now infamous league title. Naturally, the Bavarians don’t have the kind of money Pep Guardiola was afforded and that City can produce but with a turnover of €750.4 million, after the 2018/19 season, they have the largest budget in Germany. In the right hands, that’s a fortune and it should comfortably see them do things.
But, money doesn’t buy results and only with the right manager will the club start doing well. It’s why the only way forward is to give up title number 9, in a row, and instead, concentrate on their future with the aim of dominating Europe one day again. That is after all the only way to truly measure a team, isn’t it?
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