The Miasanrot Mailbag #4
Welcome to the fourth edition of the Miasanrot mailbag. This feature allows you to ask whatever Bayern-related question is on your mind and have it answered by our local lunatic. If you want to see your question answered in the next edition, either send it to us in a tweet @miasanrot_com, using the hashtag #MSRmail or, if you don’t believe in that Twitter voodoo, just leave us a comment down below.
Bayern’s South America scouting wasn’t overly successful. Young, promising players were signed for relatively high fees and turned out to be failures. Santa Cruz, Dos Santos, Sosa, Breno – signing them probably wasn’t an awful idea (everyone of them has shown talent at some point in their career) but it just never worked out.
Whether that’s due to bad scouting, coaching or a lack of integration, we don’t know. Either way, it appears that Bayern realized its flaws in that department and decided to close it instead of attempting to fix things. Considering how unimportant those direct imports have become for the European elite, it wasn’t the worst decision. Scouting, integrating and developing South American talents is now the business of the second tier of European clubs.
It’s pretty simple, I didn’t pay any attention to it.
It wasn’t until van Gaal that I cared or even understood any tactical happenings. I grew up with the Hitzfeld Bayern of “we’ll win because our players are better”, real tactics or philosophies were foreign concepts. The team would always score more goals than Kahn would concede, that was the philosophy. Watching these matches now is a scary thing, the fate of the club relied so much on the keeper saving some difficult shots. Imagine Roy Makaay and his finishing skills in a team as dominant as today’s.
Keep the dominance, transform the offense from a structure that’s massively dependent on wingers winning one-on-ones to a more collective threat that offers central penetration (heh!) and constant off-the-ball movement.
In other words: start beating a defense with passing and as a collective instead of with pace and dribbling. Preferable while finding a way to reduce the added risk a misplaced pass includes (lost dribblings are a lot less dangerous than bad passes in terms of transitional defense).
Will that happen? Kinda unlikely.
Many players aren’t in top form, most opponents are settled by now and (in my opinion most importantly) Bayern are figured out at this point. Changes to the team are rather minimal. Remember half a year ago when everybody talked about the unpredictable FCB that changes the entire strategy and formation every 30 minutes? That hasn’t been the case at all in 2016. Bayern mostly rely on the proven 4-2-4esque style and a switch to a back-three usually only changes the position of Philipp Lahm from right-back to midfielder, nothing else.
Bayern’s tactical approach in 2016 is similar to the performances: we know what we are and we’ll find a way to power through. Creativity, flexibility and unpredictability aren’t key anymore. Maybe the better and safer approach in the deciding stages but certainly not the one I prefer. I’m afraid it’s more or less going to last.
I expect a full-back, as Alaba and Kimmich will be seen as CB options in the depth chart. Everything else depends on the departures. Since you’re asking me right now, I can only take a wild guess: a central midfielder and a striker.
Here’s a more detailed description of the issue:
The vast majority of viewership follows a lot or some even all games without feeling a desire to understand the mechanics behind it. Online, there’s somewhat of a tendecy to closed circles of bloggers, tactic analysts etc. I think it’s too easy blaming the mainstream press / TV for their superficial reporting, I feel like some of the previous mentionned group don’t even try to really understand the average consumer and prefer sticking with their ‘elite’ filterbubble. I’d be interested in your perspective on this, and as I said, going deeper into the reasons for this gap than just ‘mainstream sport journalism sucks’.
This is the most important question of this edition, at least in my eyes. It appears as if there’s an issue regarding the behavior of the “new world experts”. While I’d never see myself in that group, I have to assume that position for this answer as the question was directed at me.
Blogging, alternative reporting, fans writing for fans – all those things are initiated by the thought that things can be done better or at least differently. So if the replacements turn into the replaced, that’s a massive problem. Why does the elite stay inside their little, exclusive circle? It’s not out of arrogance. In my opinion, there are two main causes.
#1 – A lack of awareness
To “experts”, certain things are completely obvious and natural. They often forget that the vast majority don’t see or know the things they know. As that basic fact is forgotten, the expected level of discussions rises. Questions that seem normal and interesting to “outsiders” are seen as boring nonsense by “experts”. It’s kind of the opposite of the mainstream media – instead of treating everyone as dumb people who crave only entertainment and drama, it’s assumed that everyone who cares has a certain amount of knowledge. The response to a bar being set too low often is that the bar is set too high, unfortunately. Because of that, discussions might seem elitist and “outsiders” are often ignored as their contributions aren’t taken really seriously.
#2 – An imagined competition
In a world where it feels like everything is dumbed down, we all want to be one of the enlightened ones. When you have a certain set of knowledge, you want everyone to know. Sure, you could dumb things down and reach 60% instead of 30% of readers. But that would mean sacrificing some details that could impress the 2% at the top. It’s a problem that’s as understandable and complex as it is worrisome. Until you’re “enlightened”, you want to be enlighted. Once you are however, you want to prove your place in that circle instead of helping increase it.
Add to those two factors that it’s more comfortable to stay within your proven circle, that questions from the outside are often similar and predictable, and that sometimes people inside a circle might just get along well and enjoy talking, then you get close to an explanation.
To end this, a bit about me personally. When I’m asked to predict things, I feel like I’m asked a question I can’t answer in a satisfying manner. I constantly have to remind myself that it would be rude and awful to always reply “I have no idea” when asked what’s gonna happen to XYZ, even though that’s the honest answer (how would anyone know?). My role and the expectations of the other person become so much more obvious when they ask me to explain something. “Explain” is such a key word in questions, as it signals that you want to understand something that might seem obvious to the person you ask. Everyone has a certain set of special knowledge, anyway. Knowing your 50 shades of counter-pressing doesn’t turn you into a superior human being, just into one that happens to know more about that particular thing (and, in return, a lot less about other stuff).