Who will be FC Bayern’s coach?
First of all, there is the question of what the new coach should offer. FC Bayern needs a clear idea of how to play in the next few years. Real Madrid, Barcelona, the English clubs and Paris have all left FC Bayern in the dust in the transfer market. If they want to buy players of the highest caliber, they can do so without flinching. Bayern could do the same, but they don’t want to do so at the moment out of principle, and therefore have to find alternatives to catch up. This includes, for example, the tactical area.
Van Gaal’s appointment changed the philosophy of the record champion. The so-called “Hero football”, a term coined by Volker Finke, was omnipresent at Bayern. Players were indiscriminately bought together and the system varied from coach to coach. There was no overarching philosophy and no core idea that ran through the entire club.
At least Louis van Gaal brought a tactical idea to Munich. He laid the foundation for possession-oriented and dominant football. Jupp Heynckes adapted to this and enhanced the system of his predecessor with important elements such as higher counterpressing and more vertical passing. Then came Pep Guardiola, who raised FC Bayern to a level they hadn’t seen before, from a tactical perspective.
One suddenly got the feeling that something fundamental had changed within the club. There was a conviction and an idea of how to understand football. Carlo Ancelotti’s appointment didn’t quite fit in. The Italian did not stand for a clear philosophy, nor for the development of teams. Apparently, the hope was that he could manage the status quo. It went wrong.
Finally, Jupp Heynckes came back as a temporary solution. A clearly defined callback, which should only last until the end of this season. Accordingly, it was his task to reinstall the basics and somehow manage a successful season so that a change could take place in the summer. To some extent, expectations were limited to bringing this season to a successful close. There were no immediate expectations that he would further develop or begin transitioning the team.
This is the greatest challenge for the future coach. He has to further develop the team, bring Robben and Ribéry into a less dominant role (or discard them) and establish new ideas. Meanwhile, he must do all of this using a sporting concept that FC Bayern will be able to identify with over the next few years and that also matches the squad. In other words, a new era must begin.
On the next page we will discuss some scenarios.
But who could be considered based on this profile? We’ve looked at the most likely scenarios and analyzed who could fit and who would not.
Heynckes deserves a statue in front of Säbener Strasse. Simply because he was the only coach in the club’s history to win the treble. But his merits this season are also great. He came back from retirement and reactivated a team that no longer believed in their coach.
Heynckes also feeds from that effect. The senior players would run for him until they drop. They give everything for a man with whom they had great success. In Jupp Heynckes, experience and leadership are perhaps more pronounced than any other trainer in the world. Uli Hoeneß rightly points out that from an interpersonal point of view, no other coach would be able to mediate Ribéry’s benching as well as Heynckes.
Nevertheless, it is doubtful that Heynckes will be able to cope with this transition from a sporting perspective. Another year of Heynckes would be a big risk for both sides. For FC Bayern, because it is to be feared that the important new ideas will be missing. Heynckes would have the confidence to spend another good year with his team, but doubts about a radical change would be justified.
Despite his adaptability, the treble coach also stands for the past and he survives to a certain extent, based on the acceptance of his former players, who forgive him the current tactical weaknesses because his basic task was different. A potential lack of tactical and player development could no longer be justified by his role as rescuer, because he would be explicitly responsible for it.
It would also be a great risk for Heynckes himself, because an extremely complex year would be looming. One in which he can only lose. He would have to place his trust in players who do not have such close ties to him as Robben or Ribéry. This could cause the Jupp-effect to crumble if there are failures in the transition, which is to be expected.
The moral perspective also plays a important role. The constant pursuit of Uli Hoeneß and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is slowly becoming exhausting. Jupp Heynckes has made himself clear on several occasions and that should be respected.
The underlying idea behind this Heynckes solution is that FC Bayern could have other plans in the background. Joachim Löw is a highly esteemed man in Germany. His achievements for the DFB are enormous. Especially the tactical development of his team is impressive.
Löw has always fought with critics, but he has earned a reputation as one of the best national coaches in history. He knows about controversial personnel decisions and is appreciated by most players. In addition, he now stands for a very dominant approach that would fit the philosophy of the record champion.
He knows the majority of the squad and he doesn’t shy away from putting big names on the bench or managing difficult transitions. If he were available as early as 2018, it would be the best possible solution. In the coming summer however, he will compete in a major tournament with his team. It would not only cost a lot of preparation time, but also a great deal of energy to change to a new team in Munich. For this reason alone, employment at FC Bayern is unlikely this year.
If Heynckes were to stay for another year however, there would be a better chance in 2019. If you had already decided in favour of Löw and received a commitment, another Heynckes season would certainly not be a doom. The risks mentioned above would certainly need to be weighed, but Löw is probably a coach worth waiting for. However, this scenario would also require a further commitment from Heynckes, which one simply cannot expect and certainly should not force.
A further intermediate year would be risked in order to finally obtain a long-term coach with great potential in 2019. Nagelsmann’s situation would be similar. The current Hoffenheim coach finds himself in a difficult season which has brought him into some criticism. Some media reports and interviews indicate that the 30-year-old could have slight leadership problems. These are experiences that every coach will have at some point.
From a purely technical point of view, however, Nagelsmann is a sensation. There is no doubt that he will be a very hot candidate for the record champion in the future, but most likely not in 2018. Heynckes rightly pointed out that such young people have to make mistakes. Only in a positive culture can he learn from his mistakes. Nagelsmann is already a good coach, but how good could he be in a few years time? Patience is certainly not a bad guide in this case.
For the time being, Nagelsmann could make Borussia Dortmund stronger again so that Bayern have a little more competition in the next few years. Afterwards, FC Bayern could snatch away the creator of success from their new rival. A devilishly good plan.
Niko Kovac, on the other hand, smells like an option that Uli Hoeneß has been dreaming of for years. Since Zinédine Zidane’s success story, it has been his inner need to achieve the same thing at FC Bayern. And indeed, Kovac’s successes in Frankfurt are remarkable. In 64 Bundesliga games, his team earned an average of 1.36 points per game. This places him among the top 10 Eintracht trainers in history.
In this season his Frankfurt team are in 6th place, which is partly due to the fact that no other team consistently scores points except Bayern. Nevertheless, the development in Frankfurt should not be underestimated. The team has also continued to develop on the pitch under him.
However, Kovac falls into the group of coaches who makes their team successful primarily through attitude, aggressiveness and dedication. If a team can play against the ball in a structured way and excel in the one-on-ones, it works very well, especially in the Bundesliga at the moment. But that would not be enough for FC Bayern, therefore Kovac would also have to improve considerably.
He wouldn’t fit in the line of van Gaal, Heynckes or Guardiola. It is very likely that he would even be a step backwards into the “heroic football” times between 2002 and 2009. It is also more than questionable whether Kovac could bring the necessary development on the pitch. Kovac has neither the experience nor the special tactical skills that would qualify him for a position at FC Bayern. In other words, hiring Kovac would be playing with fire.
The next page is about Tuchel and two outsiders in the race for the coach’s position.
Is Thomas Tuchel not a good option because of his past? Klopp and Hasenhüttl were also a recurring theme. But are they the right candidates? We also analyze these scenarios and come to a conclusion.
Every week there are new rumours about Thomas Tuchel and FC Bayern. In terms of technical and tactical expertise – there’s not much to discuss – Tuchel is one of the country’s top three coaches. Of all the candidates, he is the coach who could best continue Guardiola’s philosophy. Additionally, he is the only coach who has seriously jeopardised FC Bayern’s title run in recent years.
He collected 78 points in his first year at Borussia Dortmund before losing his entire spine. Thomas Müller once told Mats Hummels that this BVB was very exhausting and annoying. It was an unbelievable achievement for FC Bayern to keep BVB at a distance week after week and so it was that the Dortmund team finally collapsed late in the season.
Nevertheless, Tuchel proved that he was able to implement development and change in a very short period of time. He turned Klopp’s Counterpressing-Borussia into his Ball-Possession-Borussia in a few weeks. It would have been exciting to see where the development would have gone if he had been able to keep at least two of his key players.
But why does Bayern not strike when there is such a perfect sporting solution on the market? Quite simply, because Tuchel has not gained a good reputation at both Mainz and Dortmund from an interpersonal perspective.
Especially the stories from Dortmund allow for justified doubts. These stories are all the more believable since they came not only from possibly frustrated substitute players, but from many different sides of the club. Given this history, FC Bayern has to consider whether Tuchel is capable of developing his character.
From the external point of view, it is therefore not possible to evaluate the discussions the club has already had with him. If they were not fully convinced that Tuchel might fit, then the community would have to accept that.
And yet the thought remains that van Gaal was not an easy character either. He brought a revolution to Munich and laid the foundation for an era. Such a cornerstone is needed again. Someone who can establish the tried and tested and build through new ideas and thoughts. That may well be Tuchel. Maybe that’s why this risk would be worth it. However, he would then also need some room to maneuver, which he would have to be granted by the board of directors.
We have also talked about other alternatives that would not be available in 2018. Therefore, Tuchel could either become a longterm solution, or the club may realize in time that he does not fit in Munich. In this case, there would be completely different perspectives a year later. As much as Tuchel can be criticized for his character and his past, it is unlikely that the 44-year-old’s engagement could destroy anything in the club. There would be enough ways out of the situation.
The names Hasenhüttl and Klopp have also been mentioned several times. Both are, however, only to be considered as outsiders in the race for the coaching position. While Klopp is currently working meticulously on a team that is far from finished, Hasenhüttl has removed himself from the rumor mill. According to the coach of RB Leipzig, he is by no means ready for a bigger club and felt that this season, especially in the Champions League. These statements make him interesting for the future because he demonstrates a healthy self-reflection.
However, there is also the question of the tactics for both. Klopp’s counter-pressing football is certainly an exciting game, but it would require more radical change than is actually planned. The Bayern squad is designed for dominant possession football. It would therefore also require a medium-sized personnel restructuring. It is doubtful whether this is the way to go.
Hasenhüttl is a bit closer to reality. He has been able to bring creative elements of the possession game to his team. There would also be a tactical change with him, but it would not be as big as with Klopp. This remains an exciting alternative for the future, if and when he feels ready.
FC Bayern has several alternatives, but all of them have their disadvantages. If Heynckes could actually be persuaded, he would not be a bad solution, but still one that is terribly uncreative and potentially dangerous. Even if he were to be trusted with everything, a difficult year could threaten. Tuchel, on the other hand, would not only be a new idea, but also a coach who fits in with the club’s recent past. For him, the risk results from the interpersonal problems of recent years. Can he develop and learn from it? Hasenhüttl expressed himself relatively clearly, but perhaps FC Bayern may still be able to convince him. He could be a little surprise in the race for the coach’s chair.
If the record champion does not want to take the risk with Tuchel and if Hasenhüttl insists there is no chance, they may need an alternative that has not been mentioned anywhere. Abroad, there are also options, but the language seems to be an important factor for Bayern. Löw would be the ideal candidate because he embodies a path between Heynckes and Tuchel. However, his commitment in 2018 is even more improbable than an extension of Jupp Heynckes. It is an unbelievably complex and accursed search for a coach, which FC Bayern is operating or rather should be operating.
If one only looks at his own front door, one is forced to come back to Tuchel as the best solution. A new van Gaal that could lay the foundation for a new era.
Heynckes is publicly named as the only option, but can Hoeneß really be so naïve that he does not draw up any other plans in the background? If that were the only solution, you’d have to question the whole club. Not only because of the 10% probability, but also because it gives other candidates the impression that they are only second choice. Professionalism looks different.
Whether it’s an unnecessary smokescreen in the media or lack of a plan – both are bordering on a level of shame that can hardly be surpassed. The fact is that the future of the club will be decided in the summer. There will be many personnel decisions. One of the most important ones is the coach’s position, and the club would do well to announce the course it has taken for the next few years.