Niko Kovac doesn’t usually speak about changes to the team. However, according to Bild (paywall), it seems the Bayern Munich coach has rearranged the team’s hierarchy by promoting Robert Lewandowski to third captain.
Now behind Manuel Neuer (captain) and Thomas Müller (vice-captain), Lewandowski will take on more responsibility at the club. This was evident when Lewy with Neuer, Müller, and Franck Ribery, met with Bayern’s bosses during the mini-crisis back in November. About the new responsibilities, Lewandowski told SportBild confidently:
I’ve already been captain of the Polish national team for several years. That’s what I can also help at Bayern; I have the experience. I know what you have to say in certain situations and have no fear of expressing my opinion.
Neuer and Müller have held their positions since Phillip Lahm retired. Last year both players missed matches due to injury (Neuer more so than Müller obviously). While they were out, Jupp Heynkes gave the captain’s armband to the most senior, longest-tenured players on the team. Ribery wore it the most often, while Arjen Robben wore it if he wasn’t available either. Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels even wore the armband once each.
In last week’s Telekom-Cup, however, Thiago wore the captain’s armband, although both Boateng and Hummels played. Now as Robben prepares to leave soon and Steakgate is still hanging over Ribery’s head, it seems like Kovac has shuffled the ranks within the team according to players’ current importance to the team.
Though none of the levels besides the captains are official, it is speculated that the new hierarchy goes something like this:
Captains: 1. Neuer, 2. Müller, 3. Lewandowski
Influencers: Thiago, Joshua Kimmich, Robben
Helpers: Boateng, Hummels, Ribery
As the Rückrunde starts this week, we can only hope that the new regime doesn’t divide the locker room. Perhaps Kovac has merely acknowledged the reality of the seniority on the team. Either way, it will take a unified team to achieve the goals that the Bavarians have set out to achieve the rest of this season.