The press was on hand to document a grim sight after the players had left the mixed zone under the Allianz Arena and retreated to the locker room. In marched the club bosses, stony-faced.
After Bayern Munich gave away a commanding lead, and second-to-last-placed Fortuna Düsseldorf escaped Munich with a precious point and 30% more goals all season (13 total now), club president Uli Hoeness, Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, and Executive Vice-Chairman Jan-Christian Dreesen went directly to the locker room.
Outside closed doors, Hoeness made an ominous remark to the press (Sport Bild):
Today was a difficult day for us. We need to have a discussion internally.
Hoeness was utterly baffled by Bayern’s defensive performance. “What I saw when the first goal was conceded I actually only know from slapstick films,” he said. After Bayern could not clear the ball, Jean Zimmer tragicomically blasted a bicycle kick directly into Jerome Boateng and then, from the ground, tapped the rebound past Boateng with his toe, where Dodi Lukebakio fired it into the net.
Niko Kovac has cut a sorry figure, but it is likely that Bayern’s front office will not pin all the blame on him. Without naming names, Hoeness lashed out at Boateng in a comment captured by Sport1’s Stefan Kumberger:
#Hoeneß nagelt indirekt #Boateng an die Wand: „Gibt den einen oder anderen Spieler, der über sich mal nachdenken muss. Hat man heute wieder gesehen, wo dilettantische Fehler passieren. Wenn ich an das erste Tor denke: sowas habe ich eigentlich nur in Slapstick-Filmen gesehen!“— Stefan Kumberger (@Kumbert) November 24, 2018
Hoeness indirectly nails Boateng to the wall: “There’s this or that player we have to think about. Today we’ve see again where amateurish mistakes happen. When I think of the first goal, I’ve only seen something like that in slapstick films.”
Kovac is safe at least until Tuesday, when Bayern host Benfica. Hoeness declared, “On Tuesday our coach will definitely be Niko Kovac.” Another senseless defeat could spell then end, though.
Kovac himself was furious after the match. He told the media,
You can imagine how I feel inside. I don’t know if there’s a level beyond angry. When you have the game under control and lead for the nth time, then I’m everything but happy, but rather very angry. I simply cannot understand that we could not convert the chances that we nonetheless had. But much worse is the way we defended all three of the goals conceded. Then it doesn’t mater if it’s a newly promoted club or a Champions League participate on the other side. These mistakes will be punished.
It was yet again with a page from Kovac’s own playbook with Eintracht Frankfurt that broke Bayern’s defense. Düsseldorf coach Friedhelm Funkel praised Düsseldorf’s defense for not collapsing and candidly described his offensive game plan:
The plan was that Lukebakio would create a chance or two with his speed. That it worked so well and he scored three goals today — that’s a little bit lucky, too. When you win a point im Munich, it feels like a win.
At least one player on Bayern’s defense was willing to bear part of the blame. David Alaba had his coach’s back after the match. Alaba told AZ,
When you look at the game today, it’s not the coach’s fault at all, I think. The goals we conceded really hurt, but not the way we played today. The coach isn’t to blame.
Alaba argued that the team has to analyze “where the big mistakes are being made, when you give up the equalizer in the last minute.” Manuel Neuer also defended Kovac after the match, stating,
If we had implemented what the coach had given us, we would have won 5-0.
To what extent Kovac and the players themselves are to blame for Bayern’s ongoing struggles will doubtless be the subject of discussion in the front office, as Hoeness indicated.