Bayern Munich’s resident mole resurfaced today in a Sport Bild exclusive that reveals the tenor of Niko Kovac’s address to the team the day after the club threw away a 2-0 lead to newly promoted Fortuna Düsseldorf, allowing them to escape the Allianz Arena with a point and a 3-3 result that they celebrated like a victory.
The strange thing about this story? The leak purportedly describes the same team address that we previously covered on the basis of an exclusive by Bild. All four authors of the Bild piece from November 26 — Niedderer, Verhoff, Kessler, and Brosda — appear now in the Sport Bild piece with the addition of Christian Falk and Tobias Altschäffl.
The new article published by Sport Bild today unsurprisingly corresponds in part to the earlier story. Kovac is said to have criticized the players’s lack of urgency. Sport Bild uses the word bequem, literally “comfortable,” to describe this attitude. Düsseldorf coach Friedhelm Funkel used the same word to criticize Jerome Boateng, which I translated as “lazy” in the context. Kovac urged the team to work hard for everything. This is presumably be where he allegedly brought up his Croatian background.
Sport Bild adds that Kovac further criticized center-backs Boateng and Niklas Süle for a lack of aggressiveness. He said he had watched Atletico Madrid vs FC Barcelona on Saturday evening and seen how the defenders at other top clubs went much more aggressively into duels.
Putting Kimmich in his place
The third and final revelation of the new article may match the allegation earlier made that everyone in Bayern’s locker-room was a “know-it-alls.” Kovac now is said to have complained that the players were disrespectful, and he singled out Joshua Kimmich in partiucular.
By way of example, Kovac described how Kimmich ran toward Neuer with the ball during the Düsseldorf game, but ignored the captain’s request for the ball. Kimmich had also repeatedly ignored the Kovac’s instructions to fall back instead of driving forward in search of goals and assists.
Kimmich took the criticism in silence, yet Sport Bild claims “he couldn’t understand why he was being held back in his fervor,” a strangely intimate insight into Kimmich’s alleged mental state for a report of an anonymous leak.
Naming names and taking blame
In part of the story available only in print, but quoted in part by @iMiaSanMia on Twitter, Kovac also singled out Niklas Süle for criticism after Bremen’s Yuya Osako scored. That claim is not at all surprising, because Kovac in fact said exactly the same thing (Sport1) to the German press publicly after the game. Pundits were impressed by Kovac’s candor and willingness to call out individual players.
In the dressing room after the Werder Bremen game, Niko Kovač openly criticised Niklas Süle and blamed him on the Bremen goal: "If Niklas stays on the opponent, he can blow everything away there with his power & height. He didn't do that." [SportBild] pic.twitter.com/H0rki3HCeD— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) December 5, 2018
Kovac allegedly ended the team talk by stating that he personally, not the team, would suffer the consequences if he is dismissed. That presumably gives a new angle on Bild’s earlier claim that Kovac had suggested he could be dismissed soon. At the time, however, Bild emphasized a different argument: that it was not Kovac who was responsible for the team’s results, but rather the players standing on the pitch.
The message seems to have been received. Bayern demolished SL Benfica 5-1 on the following Tuesday and continued with a gritty 2-1 victory over Werder Bremen. And in both games, Joshua Kimmich was one of the best players on the pitch, serving as Bayern’s defensive midfielder.
Bayern play FC Nürnberg at home this Saturday, where the team hopes to treat the fans to a second consecutive home win as they climb their way further back up the Bundesliga table. Bayern won six of their past seven matches against Nürnberg dating back to 2011, the only exception being a 1-1 draw under Jupp Heynckes in 2011.