Miasanrot Roundtable: Mailbag May 2019
This month we got Mark Lovell from ESPN to join our Miasanrot writers Tobi, Marc and Rick in answering your questions.
Via @bnceo: Should winning the Bundesliga finally end the #KovacOut talk?
Marc: No. While results obviously matter and it was a tremendous achievement to win the title after being down as much as Bayern were this year, this trophy should not determine his fate. Similarly, if they had failed to win a trophy I don’t believe it necessarily should result in an automatic sacking. This decision should be based on how the team performed, his tactical growth and ideas, his player management and their response to his style and how they believe he can develop this team going forward. From my point of view there are serious questions to be asked in nearly every category that he will/should be judged on. It is up to the bosses to decide if he’s shown enough to lead this team to the future they envision.
Tobi: No. Coaches should be judged based on the product, the progress, the squad management. All of those things were average at best. That being said, this success significantly increases chances for these talks to be suspended for a few months at least. Maybe Kovač can make a significant jump in the second season – I sure hope so. If not, it’s still very much a question of when he will go, a similar story as Ancelotti’s Bayern career.
Mark: No. If Bayern win the cup final, Kovač will have done a Felix Magath, capturing a domestic double in his first season as coach in equally as (un)inspiring fashion. This should ensure the Croatian maestro is safe for next season. Bear in mind that if Bayern were to sack Kovač, this would especially mean Uli Hoeness admitting his appointment was a mistake. Just can’t quite see this happening at the moment.
Rick: Yes. For now, at least. Or at least in the form it has taken, which has bordered on the gratuitous. We, and the Bayern bosses, knew that in appointing Kovač that he was not going to be another Heynckes or Guardiola. They knew what they were getting having seen him at Frankfurt and before then with the Croatian national team. There was no obvious caveat emptor.
What we did get was a relatively inexperienced coach inherit a squad that had no major additions prior to his appointment, and then a raft of injuries. The fact that he managed to turn a nine-point deficit into a memorable title win should be celebrated. Give him the players and the backing, and then we will have a fair challenge.
On matchday 33 Bayern drew 0-0 against Leipzig in the Bundesliga in a rather dull match. How do you expect this match to be different?
Marc: The main thing I expect to change is the way that Leipzig approaches the game. I think they will likely be a bit more adventurous going forward. If that happens, it could open up the game a bit more. Whether that results in more goals is anyone’s guess.
Mark: Both sides could live with the point on their last meeting, both showing a lack of ambition in a dull game. Obviously, this is a one-off game at a neutral venue and a great chance for Ralf Rangnick to get one over on Bayern. For this meeting to take a different course, it could do with an early goal, rather like Eintracht last season, so that one side has to throw their game plan out of the window.
Tobi: Leipzig will actually care this time. Whether that makes it better or worse for them considering their track record in big matches, who knows. Bayern won’t be that different. All in all, it will be a similar match as two weeks ago, with a quality increase due to Leipzig going the extra mile their gameplan always requires.
Rick: Having already secured third place and with no real hope of achieving any better, Leipzig’s Bundesliga campaign was done. Beyond continuing their unbeaten run, they were able to use the game as a planning exercise for Berlin. In this weekend’s showpiece, they will care a whole lot more as they look to challenge for their first major piece of silverware.
Your predictions for the Pokalfinale? Will Kovač be able to win the double in his first season as Bayern head coach or will Rangnick be able to outcoach him in his last match on the sidelines for Leipzig?
Mark: Bayern to win on penalties with Timo Werner (again) missing a spotkick before, surprise surprise, agreeing to join die Roten in the summer.
Tobi: It’s a 50-50 affair. Considering how this campaign has been going, I’ll say that Rangnick will outcoach Kovač, yet Bayern still win 2-1 because Serge Gnabry will salt the earth.
Marc: I think Tobi is just about right on here. I think Bayern will win but doubt that Kovač outcoaches Rangnick. I think Bayern may squeeze in a late goal for a 3-1 with the game being much closer than that score line indicates.
Rick: It will be close. I like Mark’s interesting theory about Werner doing a Matthäus, but I do not think that it will come to that. Bayern to win it by the single goal or odd goal in three, with the winner in the final ten minutes.
Via @bnceo: Is 19/20 the year that Neuer needs to show he’s still a starting keeper?
Mark: If Neuer steers clear of injury, he’s still among the best in the world. He’s judged by impossibly high standards meaning his every mistake his exaggerated. Ulreich is a great understudy to have though and Bayern will be thankful that he is happy to warm the bench when Neuer is fit, and does not have the ambition to be a starting keeper elsewhere.
Tobi: Less so in terms of quality than in terms of quantity. When he played, Neuer was decent to good. There was a run of two to three months where he couldn’t prove himself because seemingly every chance Bayern conceded was a sure goal. But if he spends another season constantly battling injuries, things could and should very well heat up in the summer of 2020.
Marc: Yes and no. To Tobi’s point his quality of play hasn’t been as big an issue as many have painted it to be in the media and social media circles. That being said, his injury history certainly is cause for concern and his increasing age would have the team on the lookout for signs of decline regardless. Barring another catastrophic injury, Neuer will be the starting keeper for the next few seasons.
Rick: Everybody has a use by date, and this applies to greats like Neuer. This season has not been kind to him, and should things follow the same pattern next season I think his time is done. However, there is still opportunity for him to turn things around.
There are still a lot of rumours around possible transfer targets for Bayern out there. This week German newspaper “Kicker” wrote about the possibility of Sane joining the Reds, which Hoeneß and Rummenigge confirmed. Which type of player would you target in the upcoming transfer window?
Mark: If Leroy Sane is on the market, Bayern would be insane not to do everything in their power to sign him. Sane makes sense, he’s German, ultra-talented and would fit with Uli Hoeness’s dream of a team of German internationals. But if Bayern can get De Ligt, who also has a decade of top level football ahead of him, this would be a massive capture.
Tobi: An additional difference maker for the offense. Sane fits that mold perfectly. Aside from that, there isn’t too much to do. I’d be happy if the club decided against entering another season with only one full-back backup. Not letting Renato Sanches walk would be a smart move, too. Give him regular playing time to develop and his worst-case outcome is ending up as a massively versatile 12th man. But signing Sane seems more realistic than keeping Sanches at this point…
Marc: The one area I think might need to be looked at that no one has mentioned is a defensive midfielder. The defense looks pretty solid with plenty of depth unless they move Kimmich forward. De Ligt would be great just because of his undeniable talent. Tobi’s suggestion of a difference maker in attack however is honestly the right answer. When we’ve struggled to score this season, too often there was a lack of ideas from our attacking players. Having another player that is capable of making that extra bit of difference.
Rick: I will admit that while Sané has shown many glimpses of brilliance, he is yet to convince. Yet, I will buy into the idea of Uli wanting to create an all-German wing duo with Serge Gnabry. The major question is where Kingsley Coman fits into all this, more so as he finally looks to have turned the corner. Part of my doubt about Sané is his attitude; if he had Gnabry’s overall approach and team ethic, it would be a no-brainer. I would have no issue at all with de Ligt, however.
Via @andiminga: Who will be able to take over the mantle of Spasskanone in the cabin next season aka. successor of Ribery?
Marc: Perhaps Gnabry? I’m not sure to be honest. Might be a bit of a team effort.
Mark: If Kovac is not the coach next season, I am sure players like Müller will be walking around with a permanent smile.
Tobi: Anyone but Thomas Müller, his jokes are awful.
Rick: Lewy. The guy can occasionally crack a smile. Seriously, I think it will be hard to follow somebody like Ribéry.