Five Tasks For FC Bayern
One thing is for certain: the man at the sideline will be called Carlo Ancelotti when the team comes back together for training this summer. He won’t have turned into a tactical genius by then, instead he will continue to provide a fairly simple structure that is meant to support every player’s individual strengths.
Ancelotti’s biggest task will be to work on the balance between defence and offense. Especially the top-tier teams in the Champions League will demand a defensive security from Bayern in certain phases that hasn’t always been available this season; in the games against Dortmund and Real, Bayern conceded both goals and red cards after good counter-attacks despite starting off well. This will likely be the area where the biggest footballing improvement will be possible.
There won’t be a “revolution” per se this year. With Neuer, Boateng, Hummels, Alaba, Thiago, Müller, and Lewandowski, important players have long-term contracts at good wages. In addition, there’s more experienced, high-class players in Vidal, Robben, and Ribéry, and promising talents in Süle, Kimmich, and Coman. The framework for the years to come is set. All further considerations should be based upon that. There are five tasks that need to be tackled now.
Ever since Matthias Sammer left, FC Bayern has been looking for a new person in charge for the sporting area. Michael Reschke described in detail what the job description looks like:
»I believe all top clubs are well-advised to act with dual leadership for sporting aspects. One “home secretary”, as the first point of contact for the coach, the players, the staff, the medical department and all other employees in the vicinity of the team, as well as the connecting link to the executive team. At the same time, this person will have to represent the club in the media and the public in general. Also, he should be well-connected with the youth department as well as other important parts of the club.
In addition, there needs to be a “foreign secretary” to collaborate with the extremely important scouting department to judge the national and international market for players, both at the top and at youth level. He also needs to be well-connected enough to be aware of important contractual constructs like buy-out clauses. Of course, it’s also important to be able to judge home-grown talent very well. This “foreign secretary” will then need to work with the manager, the executive team, and the “home secretary” to prepare a strategy for planning the squad.«
In this scenario, Reschke is the foreign secretary. The position of home secretary is still open. The club needs more than just a visible voice for the media (which Sammer always embodied), but also a corrective to be an influence on bad decisions internally and make sure the superseding philosophy of the club is enforced and implemented.
In Lahm and Eberl, the club already scared off two more than qualified candidates. Hansi Flick is another name that keeps getting mentioned, but there are no other official candidates in the running at the moment.
It’s also important that Ancelotti gets an assistant. After Paul Clement transferred to Swansea, Ancelotti’s son Davide took over that role together with Hermann Gerland. Clement was important for the tactical work in training, Gerland will move on to lead the new youth academy in the summer. Ancelotti would be well-advised to add an experienced assistant manager, who can also be a point of contact for the team. If in doubt, the board will have to demand and enforce this.
Even though many players have been contractually bound to the club long-term, the people in power at Bayern should make sure to have targeted conversations with players within that framework. (As it happens, an ideal task for a sporting director.) It has to be about the question of whether or not every player is ready to completely support the upcoming changes after Lahm and Alonso’s departures.
That also means that roles can change. Ribéry and Robben can’t expect to automatically be starting players in every game at 34 or 35 years. It actually makes more sense to use at least one of them as a joker more often.
Vidal is another candidate for those conversations, potentially also Boateng and Thomas Müller. At the same time, it’s also about a new hierarchy in the team that will have to be established bit by bit. These things don’t necessarily appear by themselves, but will have to be guided by Ancelotti and the sporting leadership team.
There won’t be a big upheaval, but still the squad isn’t perfect. In keeping with Ancelotti’s wishes, it has even been relatively small this season. That’s usually good for the mood within the team, but often bad for the potentially crucial internal competition. The original goal of going through the season with 20 field players should be fulfilled this time.
A star player for the offensive wings, a back-up for Lewandowski, more good players with potential to develop for the full-back position and the offensive, as well as a goalkeeper who can participate in play. That should be the catalogue for the next two years.
One might get the impression that people are misjudging what is happening on the transfer market on an international level. For example: Andrea Belotti, who plays for FC Turin scoring 25 goals in Serie A, has a buy-out-clause of 100 million Euros. Apparently they are in talks of buying it of him, because it is likely to be too small (!). Another player in this kind of price range is Kylian Mbappe, whose transfer fee is valued around 100 million as well. After playing only one impressive season. His agent just stated, that only four teams were financially able to acquire him. Barca, Real, City and United. It may just be the usual ramblings coming from an agent who is trying to maximise his profit, but even people in charge are expecting the market to be like this in the foreseeable future. In addition there are huge wage demands for those kind of players.
The two examples show how difficult it will be to bring players of this category to Munich. You will need:
1. A player wanting to be transferred.
2. A club willing to let the player go.
3. A lot of money.
4. To be fully convinced that the player is worth the money you spend on him.
With the likes of Kevin de Bruyne or Leroy Sané, it became quite clear that FC Bayern has no power to overcome Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus or some English clubs financially on the transfer market in the previous transfer periods.
However a player who is able to close out games like against Real Madrid or Borussia Dortmund is desperately needed. The club has the same opinion regarding the issue, but there are different approaches to get such a player. A real star, who is unsatisfied in his current situation (Sanchez, James) with a lower price tag. A solid middle-aged player with no discount (Insigne, Carrasco, Mertens, Koulibaly). Or a young talent, who is likely to develop quickly (Coman, Brandt, Gnabry, M. Dembélé).
Michael Reschke has the network and the talent to find sleepers with contracts, FC Bayern may benefit of. And, if they really want to bring a top-star into the team you have the entire reputation of Hoeneß, Rummenigge and Ancelotti at hand as well.
Another difficult task will be to find a backup for Robert Lewandowski. It makes sense to have an additional weapon in the squad, which seems to be easy in games against Augsburg or Mainz. But who is fully able to replace the polish striker against Real Madrid or Dortmund, when it really counts? Who can play this role better than Thomas Müller and is willing to sit on the bench for 75% of the season? Would Sandro Wagner actually be better than Müller?
The setting in 2012/2013 is mentioned quite frequently over the past weeks, where the duo Mandzukic/Gomez was interchangeable on a pretty high level. Gomez left after the season because he (understandably) was not happy with his personal situation. There only may be players over 30 or under 21 suitable in this case.
After being eliminated by Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in the cup competitions, many necessary discussions are going on. What FC Bayern needs to do now:
With the end of Xabi Alonso’s career, the midfield needs to be organized in a new way. Ancelotti preferred to play with Alonso, Thiago and Vidal, which did not seem to be the perfect combination in various games. Without the Spaniard there is no additional build-up player and also no extra defensive support needed.
Besides, strong performances were more frequent with two central midfielders and four offensive players in front of them. Thiago and Vidal+4 or Thiago and Martinez+4. In the Bundesliga, a combination of Rudy and Kimmich could be another possibility. All of that sounds promising, partly because there would be a free spot for Thomas Müller, as well as both centre backs could use their skillset much more effectively. The switch for Martinez into a midfield position would also be beneficial for Niklas Süle, who may gain some more minutes as a centre back.
The executives and the coach need to determine how they like the future of the midfield to look like. An addition to the squad may be unnecessary despite Alonso’s departure, if two holding midfielders are implemented.
It is reasonable that Ancelotti did not care as much about the development of Bayern’s young talents, regarding the career endings of Lahm and Alonso. Even though Coman suffered from several injuries and Kimmich did not play less than under Pep Guardiola, their season can be judged more negative than the previous one. Likewise Renato Sanches is still a mystery. But there is no other option than figuring out what he can bring to the team in the future. Niklas Süle is another young addition to the squad and it is possible that some players of the youth academy take their next step to the first team as well.
It is a known fact that you cannot improve by sitting on the bench. A full season gives enough space to include 20 or more players in competitive matches. Especially Süle, Coman and Kimmich have already shown that they are ready to compete on a high level. Without Philipp Lahm, Kimmich has the big chance to make himself irreplaceable. Coman, after his extension, should be the first option to succeed the reign of Ribéry and Robben on the wings.
If those players are chosen to be key players in the future and even make an impact right now, the club needs to invest in their development. This should be the task for Ancelotti. It also has nothing to do with limiting his decision-making but with the long-term development of the club. This should be the focus, at least from summer on going forwards.
Translators: Bettina & Luca