After a four-game drought, which features a 3-0 home upset at the weekend, there have been rumors about a “crisis” at Bayern Munich. What are they doing wrong? Is new head coach Niko Kovac to blame here? Or are there more underlying issues?
After letting go of Carlo Ancelotti less than two months into the Bundesliga 2017/18 season, Bayern could be about to sack another manager, with Niko Kovac rumored to be hanging by a thread after a 3-0 home defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach. The loss added to Bayern’s winless run to four matches and came just days after president Uli Hoeness said Kovac was putting “his neck on the line” with his rotation approach.
First and foremost, Kovac was not Bayern’s number one prospect when they searched for a replacement manager to take over from Heynckes at the end of last season.
Hoeness said the club continuously persudaded Heynckes, now 73 years old, to hold his position, before turning to Thomas Tuchel, who instead decided to manage Paris Saint-Germain. Kovac’s name came out of the light and suddenly came next in line. The Croatian once sported the Bayern Munich crest as a player from 2001-2003, but his credentials as a manager lack when placed beside Heynckes, Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola.
Despite numerous doubters, feedback was positive for Kovac. He even led the charge to seven wins in a row to start the season.
However, the tables turned in recent week. One of the evident issues involves the regular rotation, with Kovac yet to name the same team for consecutive league matches. In the last five matches, there have been five variations of line-ups as well as changes in the team’s formation.
Hoeness’ view on the position was: “It’s up to the coach. In the end, he’s putting his neck on the line for it.”
Several sources claim that some players are unhappy with the current management. James Rodriguez reportedly exclaimed we’re not at Frankfurt here” after sitting out the 1-1- draw with Augsburg. The Colombia international, who is currently on loan from Real Madrid, was set aside for the match after producing positive results in previous matches.
Kovac denied reports of a fracture within the team, but some suggest otherwise.
“The atmosphere in the dressing room is a positive one,” said Kovac in response to a question about rifts. “Some are of course disappointed not to play, and we’re also disappointed with recent results. Nevertheless, there is a real sense of unity in the team.”
Recent results fail to prove his cause. Bayern Munich was outplayed by Ajax in the Champions League group stage and was lucky to claim a point. There was also some dangerous defending against Monchengladbach at the weekend, with players ball watching as Patrick Herrmann controlled the ball and fired one in the back of the net.
Asked if he feared termination, Kovac said: “I cannot answer that. I know the mechanisms in football, in the Bundesliga, and in Bavaria. I know that I’m at Bayern and the time here is different than maybe elsewhere. We have played seven games well and four not. We have shown that we can do it. I am convinced that we will be back and I want to do my part.”
Bayern’s squad currently has the oldest average in the league this season. The Stats reflect that, as well as the performances in their previous matches. Yet there wasn’t much work put into the squad in the summer. Goretzka was the only signing, while Serge Gnabry and Renato Sanches returned from loan spells. This leaves Kovak with a shorter list–particularly after injuries that involve Corentin Toilisso, Kingsley Coman, and Rafinha.
Clearly, some issues here need addressing but changing manager might not be the perfect solution, even if Heynckes did pick up the phone and get in touch with several tempting candidates available if he decides to pull the trigger, which includes Zinedine Zidane and Antonio Conte.