When Jupp Heynckes took over for Carlo Ancelotti, his first piece of business was to get the mighty Bayern Munich ship back on course after a wayward tenure under the Italian legend. Consider that task complete as all Heynckes has done is guide Die Roten to 21 wins in 22 games across all competitions.
The coaching and player management of Heynckes has been nothing short of brilliant. With the return of Thiago Alcantara to the star-studded Bayern Munich roster, however, it has finally come time for the overflow of talent to be handled with care. Prior to this point, Bayern has has at least one or more player on the mend from injury, sickness, or some other malady.
Now, however, Heynckes is going to have to manage his game-day egos like he does his game-day lineups. Since Heynckes has made few, if any, missteps in assembling his starters, the Bayern faithful should have confidence that he can tip-toe through this minefield with aplomb.
An embarrassment of talent
The first-world soccer problem facing Heynckes is that he simply has too much talent on his roster, which inevitably forces some players to watch from the stands with Bayern limited to including 18 on its bench for game days. We saw it first when Juan Bernat and Sebastian Rudy were banished to the stands for Bayern’s game against Schalke.
The primary cause of heartburn Heynckes may face is choosing which players man the 6, 8, and 10 positions. With Thomas Muller, James Rodriguez, Thiago, Arturo Vidal, Javi Martinez, Sebastian Rudy, and Corentin Tolisso all worthy of consideration and offering diversified skill-sets, Heynckes will assuredly continue to use his preferred squad rotation, while also attempting to build consistency in a charge to capture another treble.
There is no doubt that Heynckes has the aptitude and feel for the team to know when to rest and rotate players. The confidence and cohesion this team plays with can be directly attributed to Henyckes and his ability to understand how to best utilize each player, both physically and mentally. Those kind of intangibles are what separate the good coaches from the world-class managers. Clearly, based on his performance with Bayern this season, Heynckes has proven he is still world class despite his post-Pep Guardiola respite.
Unfortunately for players like Rudy, Tolisso, Juan Bernat, and Sandro Wagner, that quartet could be the primary pool of players used to draw who will be in the stands on game day—at least until Bayern is beset by injuries. Tolisso and Rudy are caught in the aforementioned midfield logjam, while Bernat is a luxury at outside back, and Wagner’s role is not a necessity for every game day.
Keeping the locker room united
If we factor all of this, Heynckes is the key, not only to keeping the play on the field consistently good, but also to keeping the seemingly bonded locker room from unraveling. There is, without question, a level of togetherness that Heynckes has fostered since taking over for Ancelotti and it is evident through the player interactions on and off the field.
Perhaps this is one of the factors in Heynckes’ apparent reluctance in returning for another season. Getting a roster to buy in to team goals for the next three months is a lot less daunting than managing this core, with the looming addition of midfield phenom Leon Goretzka, through next season’s slate.
But looking to next season—as tempting as it may be—would be a disservice to how incredible Bayern has been under Heynckes to this point. The squad is arguably as talented as any team in the world and if Heynckes can continue to managed field time and egos, a repeat of his 2012/2013 treble winning campaign could be in sight, even if there are momentary lapses in navigated these choppy waters.