We’re only four matches into Niko Kovac’s tenure as manager of Bayern Munich, and he’s already made it clear that he’s going to implement a rotation policy to keep his squad fully fit. Kovac has luxury of depth in virtually every position barring an injury crisis, making it much easier for him to rotate with minimal risk.
After starting in both the DFL Supercup vs. Eintracht Frankfurt and the first round DFB-Pokal clash vs. FC Drochtersen/Assel, Mats Hummels was rotated out for Bayern’s Bundesliga opener vs Hoffenheim; Niklas Süle started alongside Jerome Boateng in the central defense. Additionally, Hummels was subbed off after only 53 minutes in the Drochtersen/Assel match to accommodate a tactical shift in formation.
Speaking to the media (SportBild, AZ), Hummels revealed that he has absolutely no problem with Kovac’s rotation policy, despite showing some frustration at being left on the bench vs Hoffenheim. Hummels stated,
Everyone sits on the bench sometimes, in every part of the team. It would be very unfair to the other two [center-backs], if I didn’t accept not playing once in a while. Jérôme and Niki are simply sensational center-backs. I hope he [Kovac] keeps up the rotation over the whole season. We have virtually only English weeks now until the winter break. That’s why we need a large and high-quality squad and rotation. That applies also to me.
Hummels further explained that the rotation between himself, Boateng, and Süle helps keep him honest as a player and motivates him to work twice as hard in training sessions:
If I didn’t accept [Kovac’s decision] given the enormous quality of our central defense, I wouldn’t have a healthy opinion of myself. You can expect from me that I’ll simply accept it and push myself again at the next training session.
Coming from Hoffenheim last season, Süle acknowledged that he was willing to spend a considerable amount of time on the bench behind both Boateng and Hummels. Rotation is a fact of life when you’re at a club that has world class talent like Bayern. Süle stressed the importance of solidarity between him and his peers, especially once the Champions League games begin in the near future (Kicker):
At Bayern, we only have top players, where actually everyone has the stuff to play. It’ll be important that everyone accepts the coach’s decision. Up to now, I have the feeling that we’re all doing that. Up to now, we’re a real unit. It’ll be important when the interesting games come around that we still stick together as a team.
For Kovac, having three world-class center-backs at his disposal is reassuring, especially since they all accept that rotations will be made throughout the season. Not for nothing, either: Süle did not miss a match on account of injury all last season and played reliably whenever he was called upon. Given Boateng’s and Hummels’s injury proneness, Süle’s remarkable fitness track record is a breath of fresh air, especially with how solid his performances have been; he’s always an option for Kovac.