1) Did the press conference do more harm than good?
For what it’s worth, I think it could have been an opportunity for the front office to come out and express their full backing of Niko Kovac and the rest of the squad during a tough period, but it was instead used as a platform to attack certain media outlets. I wouldn’t necessarily say it caused more harm than good, but it didn’t seem like it was something that was really necessary, especially the day before a match when the club’s trying to snap a four-match winless streak.
I think it did nothing. This was all about trying to show the media who was boss and asserting control of the situation. It was bunch of bluster and ranting. But if the club leadership feels that this is what was needed to regain some of the edge the squad has lost — by supporting the players and coach and turning the media into the villains — then so be it. Circling the wagons can be a good rallying point. I’m not sure the media will change the way it covers the team, nor do I really think the club would have any chance of success in a lawsuit against a media outlet. I do think, however, that the front office wants to make it an “us vs. them” environment with the media in hopes of bringing the team and coach together.
It was a bunch of hot air. In the hopes of cutting a unified figure, Uli and KHR fueled the fire. Instead of backing Kovac and keeping attention focused on moving forward, they used the event as a chance to attack the media and play the victim. They made some valid arguments as it pertains to the coverage of transfer rumors and gossip within the squad, but the critique of Juan Bernat and focus on negative reporting did nothing but uplift the same negative reporting and conceptions of the Bavarian brass. It seemed childish and unnecessary when considering their approach.
It definitely did more harm than good. For one, there was absolutely no need whatsoever for Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness to hold a press conference at all. Recent reporting has obviously gotten under their skin — quite like the media firestorm around Mesut Özil’s resignation from the national team — and they simply could not help themselves. It would have sufficed if Hasan Salihamidzic alone appeared to say that Niko Kovac had the full support of Bayern Munich. Instead, by antagonizing the press, they have made Kovac an even greater target than he already was. If for whatever reason Bayern loses or draws against Wolfsburg today, the criticism will be deafening, and it definitely will now extend not only to Kovac but to Rummenigge and Hoeness themselves.
2) How do you judge Hoeness’s comments about Juan Bernat?
I don’t really know why this was even a part of the press conference. Singling out Bernat’s performance in a Champions League tie last season, when we ultimately advanced, seemed out of place, given the theme of the rest of the press conference. As is the case with everything pertaining to the club, though, I trust that Hoeness had his reasons for saying what he said. There are quotes circulating from Lothar Matthäus saying that what was said at the press conference is “kindergarten” compared to how critical managers and the coaching staff would be of players back in his playing days, so I don’t think too much attention should be paid to what Hoeness said about Bernat. At this point, what Hoeness said is just rhetoric and shouldn’t take away from the fact that the press conference was primarily about criticizing the press.
Meh, I kinda want to just write this off as Uli being Uli. It wasn’t necessary to kick Bernat like that after he left, but when you pull Uli’s string (like one of those old talking dolls from the 70s and 80s), he just keeps going and going until he eventually insults someone, whether it is Mesut Özil, Christian Falk, or Juan Bernat. Uli is always gonna Uli and that is partly why he has had such a successful run with Bayern. I am not sure it does any damage with the recruitment or acquisition of any future players and I doubt Uli cares one iota what Bernat thinks of him, so I don’t think there will be any material fallout from it.
Uli just can’t help himself. It seemed pointless, but harmless overall. It won’t prevent players from coming to Bayern and it won’t upset the current squad. Uli has a huge ego and that’s all that comment was. It was frustration more than disdain for the Spanish left back.
It was extraordinarily unprofessional of Hoeness to say what he said about Juan Bernat. And it is not the first time Hoeness has abused former players. His equally unwarranted comments about Douglas Costa, whom he unfairly compared to Ousmane Dembélé, spring to mind. Obviously, Juan Bernat cannot defend himself directly. That makes him an easy target. But the fact that Hoeness would exploit his struggles as ammunition in his personal quarrel with a specific journalist over his Bayern coverage is simply inexcusable. Imagine the fan outrage if he had said the same thing about Rafinha or Sven Ulreich! The decency and respect a player deserves doesn’t change simply because he now wears a different jersey.
3) Why was this press conference not about supporting the coach and team?
That’s honestly what I was expecting the whole press conference to be about; firmly establishing a sense of unity and togetherness moving forward. Most of us here at BFW agreed it could not be to announce the departures of either Niko Kovac or Hasan Salihamidzic, so I thought the whole slot would consist of the front office essentially telling everyone to relax about the club’s temporary rut. I’m not entirely sure what kind of retribution they can have on the media outlets that they called out during the press conference. Perhaps that could’ve been dealt with privately? Nonetheless, I’m all for trusting the club and the people that run it, so I just hope we get back on the right track and get back to business on the pitch, plain and simple.
I think they wanted to avoid anything that vaguely resembled an admission of weakness. There is no blip or crisis if they don’t admit it. The club leadership is there to guide the entire organization through any dark times. To show up at a press conference and state anything other than, “Things are fine, YOU are the problem not us,” might send the wrong message internally. After how combustible the player-coach relationship was with Carlo Ancelotti, there is no way the front office wants to put any focus on a potential rift between the coach and the squad by giving the slightest hint that there may be an issue here or an issue there.
This press conference allowed Uli and KHR to deflect attention, which may be good for Kovac. Neither considered any form of self reflection, but they also didn’t throw the manager under the bus. They were slightly immature, but they made sure to steer clear of the current squad. This seems as though it was a poor attempt at backing the squad and manager and nothing more. It would’ve been nice if they had addressed the current dip in form, but deflection is better than nothing.
I think Hoeness and Rummenigge selfishly made things worse for Niko Kovac and the team by airing their own private grievances with the press. (I seriously doubt Brazzo really wanted to do this — even his epic burn of Stefan Effenberg seemed mostly unintentional, bless him.) If any press conference was really necessary — and I think at most Brazzo might have said a few words in support of the coach — they should have expressed their support of the team by noting the simple facts we’ve already noticed elsewhere: that Bayern has been largely unlucky in front of goal and will surely rebound.
Instead, by antagonizing the media, the bosses have whetted the appetite of all the vultures circling around Niko Kovac and every older player on the squad. The slightest slip now, and the criticism will be relentless. I do not envy Kovac. The front office has transformed this match against Wolfsburg from a likely win into a quasi do-or-die elimination match. I only hope the team is not affected by pressure. The stakes should not be this high.