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Three reasons why Bayern Munich should sack Niko Kovac

Three arguments why Bayern Munich should cut their losses now and move on from a coach in over his head.

Bayern Munich's Croatian headcoach Niko Kovac wears a traditional Bavarian Lederhosen (leather trousers) dress as he arrives for his football team's annual visit at the Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, on October 7, 2018. Photo by Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images

There’s no need to beat around the bush: everyone knows that Bayern Munich are in a crisis right now. At the center of it all is the coach — 46-year-old former Croatian international Niko Kovac. Thanks to the valiant efforts of tabloid newspapers such as Sport Bild, we as a fanbase now possess intimate knowledge about dramatic behind-the-scenes incidents at the club (that may or may not have happened).

In case you’ve had the good fortune not to be exposed to such trash, here’s the gist of it:

  • The players don’t like/respect the coach.
  • Kovac exhibits communication and tactical problems.
  • The board failed to back him with summer transfers.

Whether or not you believe it all, the fact remains that damaging stories keep coming out in the media, and no one associated with the club has opted to refute them — suggesting that these reports may contain a modicum of truth. Perhaps, with all this in mind, maybe it’s time to let Niko Kovac go?

My colleague Jake Fenner already gave his take, giving us three reasons why Bayern Munich should back the coach. In that same vein of argument, here are three reasons why Bayern should sack Niko Kovac:

#1: Tactics? What tactics?

Ask yourself this: What kind of football does Kovac’s Bayern play? Is it based on counter-attacking? No, it can’t be that: when was the last time we managed a good counter? Is it based on possession? Apparently, since we tend to have a lot of possession. Okay, but possession based football can be a lot of things. Do we press? No. Do we counter-press when we lose the ball? No. Do our center-backs press high up the pitch? Well, sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

Thiago is our defensive midfielder — that much we can be certain of, but what about Leon Goretzka, James Rodriguez, Renato Sanches, and Thomas Muller? What do they actually DO on the pitch? What are their roles? Is Goretzka supposed to be an attacking midfielder like he was at Schalke, or a box-to-box warrior like Arturo Vidal? Why did he play a game at left-back?

What about Sanches? He makes marauding runs, but what is his actual role when he is not tempting fate as a daring soloist? Do Goretzka and Sanches contribute defensively? Not really. Are they supposed to contribute defensively? We have no idea.

Is James Rodriguez supposed to be a CAM like he was at Real Madrid or a central midfielder like he was under Jupp? If he’s a CAM, then what about Muller? When both players start on the pitch, what does each one do? Do they both get inside the box? Does one provide service for the other? Do both of them provide for Lewy? Do they go out wide to support the wingers? From what I’ve seen, they try to do a little bit of everything, which adds up to a whole lot of nothing.

This problem extends to the entire offense. Where’s the linkup play? The positional awareness? The pre-planned attacks? As seen against Berlin and Gladbach, do we have any plan to create chances apart from “cross into the box and hope Robert Lewandoski gets to it”?

Simply put, in his time at Bayern so far, Niko Kovac has failed to give this team any semblance of an identity. The tactics seem unclear and the players look lost and unfocused. Unless that changes, Bayern Munich will not win another game under this coach.

#2: Rookie mistakes all round

I wrote this article after Bayern drew against Ajax 1-1. Everything in it still applies:

Ever since the beginning of our our slump against Augsburg, Niko Kovac’s decision-making has been so erratic that one wonders if he has a BVB-affiliated fairy whispering things in his ear. When we were 2-0 down against Hertha Berlin, Kovac subbed on an extra striker in Sandro Wagner, ostensibly to win aerial duels. Okay, makes sense — except, to make room for Wagner, he subbed off James Rodriguez, the player who is the best creator and the best crosser on the team. How does that make any sense? Was it for rotation purposes? Well, no — because James didn’t even start against Ajax in midweek.

How does one start Javi Martinez against a young, energetic Ajax side? Why does Frank Ribery keep playing so regularly while Serge Gnabry sits on the bench? Why is it that James Rodriguez and Thomas Muller are almost never on the pitch together? This is a series of questions for which no reasonable answer can be given.

Niko Kovac isn’t an amateur coach. He took Eintracht Frankfurt to the Europa League and won the DFB Pokal against Jupp Heynckes. Where are all these unforced errors coming from? Did he lose his nerve after the draw against Augsburg? Mistakes like these, at a club like Bayern, simply cannot be allowed to continue.

#3: There are safer options available

Let’s not even talk about Zinedine Zidane. Fans romanticize the idea of change when things are going wrong, but let’s be clear on this — sacking your coach during the season is the nuclear option. It’s what you do when things have gone so far south that there is literally no other option. It’s when Bayern, as a club, has to admit that the Champions League dream is over two months into the season. Unless we somehow get Jupp Heynckes back, none of the coaches we are linked with could turn this current squad into proper UCL winners.

Bayern could get someone like Antonio Conte and have him whip our boys into shape. I’m confident that Conte would be able to do it. Italians and Bayern don’t mix very well, but both Trapattoni and Ancelotti managed to win titles at this club. Conte is the kind of man that can pull Bayern out of this death spiral. If not him, there’s also Arsene Wenger and Ralph Hasenhüttl that we can call.

However, none of these guys will win us a treble. That’s something we’ll have to accept. Maybe get some reinforcements next summer and try again? That’s the choice we face right now. Firing the coach is an admission of failure by the club. It’s not a good thing. It’s just the best thing we can do.

I don’t want this to sound like I’m hating on Kovac, because I’m not. Even though it was risky, I’ve always been in favor of giving him a chance, even before he beat us in the DFB Cup final. However, we have to face the reality.

It was a neat little idea to hire a promising but untested coach in the hopes that he could become our Pep Guardiola, our Antonio Conte, our Zinedine Zidane. Unfortunately, it isn’t working out. The problems at this club aren’t solely Kovac’s fault, but he seems to be out of his depth.

Bayern Munich would be better off with a new coach.


Should Bayern Munich fire Niko Kovac?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Yes, he’s out of his depth
    (616 votes)
  • 56%
    No, we can still turn it around
    (798 votes)
1414 votes total Vote Now

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