Bayern Munich CEO Uli Hoeness’s staunch defense of Niko Kovac must have been heartening for the new head coach after a four-match winless streak that saw Die Roten slide to near Ancelottian levels of offensive ineptitude. According to Raphael Honigstein, with Hoeness’s backing Kovac’s job is secure, but everyone at Säbenerstrasse knows that things must change.
Hoeness’s defense is to be expected. It was he, after all, who hired Kovac after interim manager Jupp Heynckes repeatedly rebuffed Bayern’s efforts to forestall his (re)retirement. It wouldn’t have been necessary, of course, to call in Jupp to salvage Bayern’s season had the hiring of Carlo Ancelotti not turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. So, while it’s nice that Uli is doing his best to slap the collective hand of the fanbase away from the proverbial panic button, his support of Kovac is also somewhat self-serving.
Despite efforts to convince people outside the organization that all is well, the grumblings from inside the club continue to slip out. Bayern’s veterans are at a loss to explain their sudden loss of alacrity in the final third, and the youngsters are frustrated to see their minutes vanish in favor of some of those same veterans, especially in key games.
One of the biggest complaints under Don Carlo was that his training program was too lax. The good news for Kovac is that no longer seems to be the case, if ESPN’s source is to be believed. The bad news, of course, is that Bayern’s attack still seems directionless, and when left to their own devices, the players seem unable to figure things out.
One thing is for certain. Kovac has never had this much talent, particularly attacking talent, to work with in his career. He brought his fitness and defensive discipline over from Eintracht (lapses against Gladbach notwithstanding), but so far it seems as he hasn’t brought anything else. This lull in form may just be a part of necessary growing pains under a new and relatively young coach. In a few years’ time, when the trophy cabinet is full of UCL titles, Bayern fans might look back at this rough patch and laugh. Or perhaps Hoeness made a bad hire, one born of desperation after his first choice(s) rebuffed the club, and he refuses to admit it. Either way, for now, Kovac won’t be getting a pink slip any time soon.