In a locker room full of world class talent, getting players to check their egos at the door is no easy feat. For a new manager, it is a prerequisite to success. Niko Kovac has taken a no-nonsense approach to creating this culture of success. In the age of social media and player branding, cell phones are the latest casualty of the Croatian’s philosophy.
According to Sport Bild, the new boss in Bavaria has outlawed the use of cell phones outside of the locker room at Säbener Strasse. That includes all rooms for functions, lounges, and medical treatment. After some players broke the rule, Kovac repeated it and threatened punishment. Phones have been banished from the massage tables and team meals ever since.
Kovac explained that the measures reduces the number of distractions for the players and encourages them to be present and interact with one another:
The use of mobile phones in the locker room is okay, but otherwise prohibited. If we eat together, it should be normal for people to talk to each other and not play around on their phones. I want there to be an exchange with one other. Also with the physiotherapists on the massage table, the players should relax, not be permanently distracted by their phones. I moreover cannot imagine that the radiation is helpful during therapy.
The cell phone ban, coupled with his seven commandments and a straightforward, rigorous training regimen, indicates that Kovac believes in a strict, yet relationship-oriented approach to man management. He has not hesitated to mold the culture of the locker room in his own image.
Past Bayern Munich managers have taken various approaches and experienced varied degrees of success. Traditionally, in the mold of Pep Guardiola or Jupp Heynckes their reputations preceded them and gaining respect was not a problem. In contrast, despite Carlo Ancelotti’s prestigious career, his lax man management style ended up leading to his demise.
Bayern’s new man comes in as a relative unknown in comparison to the aforementioned trio, but that has not prevented him from asserting himself. Early signs are positive, but will Die Roten’s stars grow weary of the manager’s structured style?