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Niko Kovač’s Seven Commandments at Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich’s new coach is bringing a hard-working, serious mentality to the locker room and expects Bayern’s players to tow the line as a team.

MUNICH, GERMANY - JULY 04: New team coach Niko Kovac (2ndR), his assistent coach and brother Robert Kovac (L), goalkeeper coach Toni Tapalovic (R) and physiotherapist Bernd Schosser of FC Bayern Muenchen chat during the team's first training session at the club's Saebener Strasse training court on July 4, 2018 in Munich, Germany.
Niko Kovac in conversation with assistent coach Robert Kovac (L), goalkeeper coach Toni Tapalovic (R) and physiotherapist Bernd Schosser at the team’s first training session, July 4, 2018.
Photo by A. Beier/Getty Images for FC Bayern

Niko Kovač is looking to lay down the law in Bavaria.

After Germany’s dismal World Cup campaign, which featured many Die Roten players, Kovač wants everyone at the club to forget the past and look forward to bonding together as a club. Kovač inherits a locker room that had split loyalties and infighting. So, in an effort to right the ship, Bayern Munich’s new coach will enforce a set of seven rules that he expects players to follow (Bild — paywall).

And so, the new God of Munich spoke all of these words:

1. I am the boss

Niko Kovač spent three years as the head of the Croatian national team. For those unaware of the Croatian football diaspora, one club, Dinamo Zagreb, is notorious for controlling call-ups to the national team. The bosses at the club are deep in the pockets of the team and have often forced players onto or off the team. Kovač was not easily swindled and stood up to the board and took a decent team to the World Cup where they fell in the group stage. He plans to bring this mentality to Bayern. He is already putting this philosophy in motion by reportedly telling Robert Lewandowski to stay at Bayern to further develop. If this works, Kovač could be able to get the best out of these players and prevent the dissent that we saw last year.

2. Daily medical assessments

Kovač has previously gone on record saying, “If I didn’t make it as a footballer, I would have been a sports doctor.” As such, the new manager will be putting the medical staff to their full use by requiring daily blood and medical tests. This is a practice he will bring with him from Eintract Frankfurt, which helped prevent injuries. By monitoring player health as religiously as Kovač has, Bayern Munich may be able to recover faster and play better, which is important as many stars of the team reach the ends of their careers.

Kovac literally put this philosophy in practice on day one:

3. Training comes before marketing

The excesses of last season’s whirlwind tour of Asia will not be repeated this summer. Kovac has imposed strict marketing limits on the team, banning all marketing activities before 8:30 PM during their tour in the United States. Bayern’s PR department will just have to be patient.

4. Keep a competitive, winning mentality

Kovač has previously attributed his constant optimism and winning mentality to a “Balkan gene.” “I’ve always had to punch through my life,” the native Croatian said. “I’ve had to work hard.” The manager maintains this attitude through every aspect of his life, including at home. Kovač even refused to let his daughter win at cards or other games at home. Kovac will impose the same brand of tough love at Bayern Munich.

5. Experts know better than you

Much like his dedication to medical professionals, Kovač enriches his staff with fitness and football experts. He likes to involve his players with every possible chance to succeed and will try new methods, some that players aren’t used to. While at Frankfurt, for example, he hired a yoga teacher to help players stretch before training sessions. This mantra would presumably prevent headbutting with team doctor Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt in marked contrast to Pep Guardiola...

6. Food is serious business

Fifty Shades of Arsene Wenger... Much like the former Arsenal boss when he first arrived, Kovač is an aggressive dietitian. He has already put the players currently training with Bayern on a strict diet, monitored by experts of course. The diet is high in carbs, and low in meat. The players also now must drink lukewarm water to boost their metabolism and enhance performance.

7. The team comes first

Time for a Mia San Mia reboot: Kovač said, “I’m a guy who likes to work hard, but I expect others to follow suit.” Kovač expects all his players to put the team before their own individual interests and work hard for the common good. This mentality should make a big impact in a locker room that has recently attracted criticism for divisiveness in both club and international competition.

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