Opinion: Does a strategy exist?
For weeks Salihamidžić was in discussions with Miroslav Klose. The former German international striker was his favorite hire for the empty chair in the Under-19 youth squad. After Klose’s convincing season with the Under-17 and him growing both as a coach and a person, he seemed to be the perfect man for the job.
But Klose had other plans. A fact he was eager to point out from day one of the talks. When Salihamidžić wouldn’t let the issue go and even told the press about the negotiations, Klose was frustrated enough to threaten with his resignation. In the end, Martín Demichelis was presented last Thursday and Klose will coach the Under-17 for at least another season. So is all well now? Rather not.
With a hint of irony one might say, Salihamidžić learned from his mentor Uli Hoeneß: Just last year the club president pushed Jupp Heynckes to stay another season for so long, that Bayern was left without many options in the end. Up until now, one might wonder, whether Niko Kovač was actually Bayern’s best choice or just “the best of the rest”. But irony aside, this is not the first time Salihamidžić appeared rather unprofessional.
Because of all the turmoil surrounding Klose, Demichelis looks like the second choice from day one. Even without mentioning his lack of experience and the questions concerning his fit. After Sagnol, Kovač and Klose he is the fourth player Salihamidžić knows from his playing days, leaving one to wonder about his network. It seems like a deal amongst friends: Salihamidžić gets to close one pot hole, while Demichelis gets a chance to prove himself as a coach.
Danny Schwarz and Stefan Buck will assist him in doing so. The former Under-16 coaches are supposed to support the Argentinian with their experience in youth teams and their licenses. This seemingly random coaching staff is the reality of club politics, that have been characterized by beaing reactive instead of proactive for years.
Even though the club must be aware of the important decisions and the big rebuild this summer, new construction sites are created instead. Amongst them are the first team squad, important roles in the youth teams and the direction of the Bayern reserves in the third division. While Salihamidžić is involved in all of them, he has little results to show for.
The honeymoon period is well over by now: Both Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeneß point out at every chance they get, that the 42-year old is in charge now. And he seems to be in over his head.
The Klose-debate alone locked up much of Salihamidžić’s capacity. The transfer rumors circle around the same names for weeks. While the favored Sané is waiting with his decision and Bayern is still trying to sell Boateng to another suitor, promising prospect Kabak signed with Schalke instead of strengthening Bayern’s defense. Just one example of many, where Bayern was too late.
It would be preposterous to pin the lethargy of the whole club on a single person. But Salihamidžić is in charge and his representation of himself and the club is not satisfying. Another example? According to several reports, Bayern tried everything to sign talent van den Berg. Even when the player was in Liverpool for his medical exam, Salihamidžić tried to contact his agent to convince him otherwise. This immensely weakens Bayern’s public image.
Bayern struggles with alternatives. If one plan fails, the club bosses start floundering. Hoeneß boasts publicly about potential agreements with players. Something that can be turned against him when months later these players still haven’t signed, because there are more parties involved in a transfer than just the player.
Even Mats Hummels transfer wasn’t without complications. While Bayern at least secured a reasonable transfer fee, the dissatisfaction of the defender and his wish to move where both known for a long time. Hummels was thinking about a transfer the prior summer as well.
Bayern is at a turning point. In August at the latest the squad will be loaded, Hoeneß told reporters. To be fair, one should wait until then before a final judgment. However, the transfer period has started and there are still four players missing for the final team and several open spots in the youth teams. Makes you wonder whether Bayern and Salihamidžić actually have a plan.
This summer will be decisive for the sporting director. The results in all these different areas will be a good measure. While it is true, that the summer is still long, the club should send out signals of security and calmness.
Quite the opposite is the case. Bayern seems to be waving their arms and grasping every straw they manage to get a hold off. Whether these straws actually fit together and suit the overall image of the club seems to be secondary. And if one straw proves to be faulty, the next one doesn’t have to match the first one. This is true for both new signings as well as the casting of important jobs around the team.
This sums up to one question: Does a strategy exist? The single pieces of this jigsaw puzzle have to be forced together in ordert to paint the picture of a club philosophy. Salihamidžić yet again failing his own ambitions by getting a rejection from Klose is just another misfit piece.