May roundtable: Welcome, Vince The Prince

miasanrot Separator May 31, 2024

This article written by Lok San Wong

As it has now been announced, Vincent Kompany will be the next Bayern Munich coach. The former Manchester City and Belgium center-back and captain will take charge of the Rekordmeister with an initial contract until 2027. Kompany caught attention in his young coaching career with an impressive season with Premiership-side Burnley that saw them dominate the English second division and earn their return to the Premier League. On top of the results, he was mainly praised for successfully implementing a Guardiola-esque style of attractive, offensive football in a team that was known for everything but that. Despite failing to stay in the Premier League this season, Kompany is still regarded as a very talented and promising coach and he has now accepted the biggest challenge of his managing career so far. 

Servus Vincent!

In this roundtable, our writers tell us what they think of this appointment.

After this roller-coaster search, what’s your overall feeling about the appointment of Kompany? 

Lok San: If you would have told me months ago that we would end up with Kompany, I would have never believed it but I’m actually really excited. The brand of football he wants to play would be great to watch if he can implement it and he has a certain aura and confidence about him that he always had as a player. Obviously, he lacks experience managing at the highest level but as we’ve seen more than once, experience and previous achievements are no guarantees of success at Bayern either. It’s a risky choice but one with potentially higher rewards than other “safer” options in my opinion. 

Pepe: I have mixed feelings because I’ve been watching some videos on Burnley. In the Championship they did look like a “mini Man City”. Their style looks enjoyable and efficient, but once they were promoted to the Premier League, looking at how they conceded goals due to tactical stubbornness, makes me wonder if he doesn’t have a plan B or just is unwilling to adapt. I’m positive that his style could bring more balance to Bayern, and he would have better players than the ones he managed at Burnley, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if his tactics didn’t work and he was sacked before completing two seasons. Bayern keeps hiring system managers and then doesn’t give them time to develop their projects, so I wonder if the old guard is willing to give Kompany time and support, or if they’ll sack him just like they did to his predecessors.

Marc: It’s a bold appointment, though if we’re being honest, those are the only options they had left to them. Tactically I actually think it’s a very good match for the players and the general style of the club. Moreover, the more I learn about him the more I think he might actually be able to handle things off the pitch reasonably well, though that will still certainly be a challenge, as it would be for anyone.

I also understand the concerns following Burnley’s season but I’m probably less concerned about that than others and I’m certainly open to giving him a chance. What I’m most curious to see is whether he can adapt that attacking possession based system to suit his opponent, not whether he can completely change the underlying philosophy and tactics of the team match to match, something that very few managers in the world do. Moreover, I’m hoping that he can get the most out of the players that we have rather than forcing them into a system that doesn’t work for them.

Rainer: I would say the overall feeling is a bit of indifference or the good old “meh”. After so much time, so many rumors, so many options and so much talk, relief that is over is also another feeling. But the appointment doesn’t excite me at all. Nothing against Kompany itself, but is not someone that gives me that “I can’t wait for the next season to start” feeling. I don’t think it is the end of the world that Bayern hired a relegated coach without much experience, like some fans think, and I think that it has a chance to be a really good deal in the long term, but I also don’t get over the moon or expect incredible results with him.

Kompany was evidently not the first choice but behind the scenes Eberl was seemingly a vocal advocate for the Belgian, which ultimately made the deal happen. This is a deviation from the board’s apparent wish to pick a more established and known candidate as opposed to a “project” manager like Kompany, do you believe this is the right trajectory for the club?

Lok San: Of course, only time will tell whether this was a brilliant decision or a poor one. Looking at the state of the coaching market, the reality is that there aren’t many top candidates available and I don’t think we could have afforded to choose a stop-gap and hold out for an option that may or may not materialize next season. There’s been a lot of talk about a small revolution happening within the squad this summer, the extent of which is unclear at the moment but it’s obvious that changes are needed to bring some fresh impetus in the club. With Kompany’s arrival, there’s an opportunity to build a consistent and clear vision of what the team should be, with everybody involved, top to bottom, working in the same direction. 

Pepe: I think it’s a gamble, but the correct one. Being the 7th or 8th option meant that any choice would have been risky, but I like they went for a young promising manager that plays modern football instead of a “more prestigious” but washed out figure like Mourinho, or a “transitional” “gap-filler” coach like Rudi García, while they wait in line to see if some elite manager wants to come in 2025. 

Marc: It is of course a gamble and will either prove to be a stroke of genius or a complete disaster, with very little room in between. However as I said above, there really weren’t any options left that weren’t a pretty big gamble in one way or another. All in all, I think it makes more sense to take a chance on a young coach whose tactics theoretically match the players and style of the club and hope that things work out than to bring in one of the more established coaches that is more set in their ways and has more personality challenges. Worst case scenario they’re back in the same place next season which already looks to have more managers potentially available. 

Rainer: I believe it could be the right choice, but like my dear colleagues said above is definitely a gamble, and a big one. It’s a really important summer transfer window and even though we have Freund and Eberl, he will also be integral to the plans of incoming and especially outcoming players and any mistakes made during this summer can hurt the squad composition for a long time… I don’t know if it is the right trajectory for the club, in both short and long terms due the terms mentioned above and if he fails we are again back to the drawing board and crazy rumors. But we need to acknowledge that he was definitely one of the “least worst” options right now after so many missed shots, so any other options, maybe besides Flick for a year contract, would also be a gamble.

What do you think the expectations will be for Kompany in the immediate future (i.e. next season) and beyond that?

Lok San: It would be unrealistic and unfair to expect him to achieve what Alonso has done at Leverkusen in his first year. But obvious improvements over this season, in terms of results but also performances, should be the target. Reclaiming the league title should be the priority along with a challenge for the Pokal and a good run in the Champions League.  

If he can instill a clear identity within the team, this would be a platform to build on for longer term success. I do hope Kompany is given a fair amount of time and support to succeed, granted there are clear improvements, and we can move away from this carousel of short-tenured managers but as we know, time is a rare commodity at Bayern and success is very much expected at every turn. 

Pepe: At Bayern the expectation is always to win the Bundesliga. I think Kompany can achieve that, especially if they make some decent signings and release some players, but the board shouldn’t consider it a failure if he doesn’t win it in his first season. Right now Leverkusen is more cohesive, has been almost 2 years now with their current manager, and has all the confidence to go and win the title again. Bayern will be restructuring and rebuilding at every level of the club so getting the project going seems more important than obsessing about instant success. If Kompany wins the Bundesliga in his first season that would exceed my expectations – and probably would give me some false hopes for the Champions League – but if he doesn’t, I don’t think we should be asking for him to be sacked.

Marc: I think the expectations outlined by Lok San and Pepe are pretty much right on the nose. Winning the league will be priority one. Finally making a run in the Pokal will be priority number two with I think a minimum expectation of the semifinals likely being the goal. The Champions League is always unpredictable and given the change in format even more so. Obviously I think they’ll expect a minimum of a Quarter/Semifinals run but there’s also no question that they would love to win it next year at home if possible. That cannot be the expectation but I do think that will be a goal.

Rainer: I don’t think anyone will expect him to have a treble soon, but there will be pressure. Another season with no title would be a failure, there’s no running from that. So he will be expected to have at least a national title and a good performance in the Bundesliga, in a very competitive scenario right now, anything else will be a failure. And, of course, an elimination in the newly formatted Champions League before the quarter finals will also be a disaster, so he will have a lot of pressure from day one. Besides the results, we cannot forget that he will be expected to be able to manage a quite difficult to manage squad and to deal with the media, definitely not easy tasks. To be quite honest, even though he has a three year contract, I don’t expect him to still be around in June 2026.

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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