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BFW Mailbag: Is Serge Gnabry good enough? What is James Rodriguez’s future? False confidence for Bayern? AND MORE!

You’ve got questions. I’ve got answers.

BERLIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 06: Serge Gnabry of FC Bayern Muenchen celebrates with team mates after scoring his team's second goal during the DFB Cup match between Hertha BSC and FC Bayern Muenchen at Olympiastadion on February 06, 2019 in Berlin, Germany.
BERLIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 06: Serge Gnabry of FC Bayern Muenchen celebrates with team mates after scoring his team’s second goal during the DFB Cup match between Hertha BSC and FC Bayern Muenchen at Olympiastadion on February 06, 2019 in Berlin, Germany.
(Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images)

Welcome to the second edition of the BFW Mailbag here at Bavarian Football Works. I asked for questions, and you certainly delivered. So, without further adieu, let’s get to it!

“Is Gnabry good enough?” - TFKC03

I think it depends on what your definition of “good enough” is. Am I convinced that Gnabry is the guaranteed long-term successor for Arjen Robben or Franck Ribery? Not yet, but I think he’s got the potential to reach that level. Consistency is the key, and right now, it appears that Gnabry is going to get the opportunity to make that position his own.

Bayern will need to spend money this summer in bringing in another winger or two to push Gnabry and Kingsley Coman. For me, Coman has proven that, as long as he can stay healthy (and, so far, this is a big ask), he is an elite level talent. Gnabry is still working to show that he can play at that level on a regular basis, but he’s close.

Still, I want Bayern to bring in a world class winger this summer. The potential of Coman and Gnabry isn’t reason enough to sit back and be complacent about this team. It never hurts to have an extra winger or two.

“Is James Rodriguez a tactical misfit? Where is he supposed to fit in?” - Ineednoname

I think James is one of those players that you really want on your team, but you don’t really need, if that makes sense. Is he better than Thomas Muller? No. Is he a better actual winger than Gnabry or Kingsley Coman? I don’t think so.

Does James fit one of the midfield roles when Kovac wants to go to a more attacking lineup? Definitely! He’s a perfect extraneous player who is Muller’s backup. I feel like that’s not something to be ashamed about, but James probably feels different.

He wants to start as many games as possible. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him look to leave Bayern if he doesn’t feel that he’s going to get that in Munich. Players want to play, not be a backup.

“Dahoud’s critical early miss: If that had gone in, would the outcome have been the same?” - Al Deraan

If Dahoud had managed to give Dortmund the lead in the 6th minute, things could’ve been completely different in the match from three different angels.

  1. Dahoud’s early goal would’ve allowed Dortmund to sit back and focus on defending while trying to nail Bayern on the counterattack. Bayern would’ve been pressing for a goal, so Dortmund could’ve used their speed to get behind the Bayern defense when Alaba and Kimmich were pushed up the field.
  2. The goal could’ve boosted Dortmund’s confidence that they are indeed a championship-quality team. Instead of being dejected through Bayern’s two quick goals, maybe it’s Dortmund that pushes for a second goal around the quarter hour mark, putting Bayern behind it.
  3. Inversely, talk about a major let down for Bayern. The Bavarians came out on fire, but that early goal could’ve zapped all the energy out of them that we saw.

Quick Hits!

“After this emphatic victory.. how much of a confidence should we take forward, because Dortmund were really bad. With Freiburg in hindsight, Doesn’t this promote a false sense of security going ahead??” - Ranambo

Bayern should take confidence from the win against Borussia Dortmund. They beat the second place team 5-0. Dortmund aren’t fighting relegation. They were sitting in first place in the Bundesliga after 28 games. That’s a huge win.

However, the takeaway for Bayern shouldn’t be, “Look how good we are!” and I don’t really think it will be. Kovac will keep hammering into these guys that they need to carry the performance over from the Dortmund game. If they can continue playing with that intensity and precision for the remainder of the Bundesliga season, they’ll certainly win the title again.

If they take their eye off the ball, things can turn against them just as quickly.

“Can raumdeutering ever be taught?” - Anfi8

It’s really just an instinctual thing. I don’t think it’s possible to learn it.

“It’s been observed that 4-2-3-1 system has been consistently given results and something players are comfortable with. Why don’t coach stick to it to maintain good run and PS: This is my first comment in the Community and greetings to everyone from India.” - Soumi_006

Hey, Soumi! I hope you stick around and comment more. My favorite thing about BFW is that there’s a place where you can talk about anything and everything Bayern related.

As for your question, I think it’s important for any team to be flexible in their formations when they’re out on the field. Many of Kovac’s lineups this season have been tweaks on 4-2-3-1 either pushing them more offensive (think 4-1-4-1) or more defensive (think 4-4-2) while not completely abandoning the “idea” of a 4-2-3-1.

“Every time Bayern trashes Dortmund, is it bad for the reputation of the Bundesliga because people then start calling it a “farmers league”?” - Jesper33

If the Bundesliga was performing in Europe, it wouldn’t matter. Currently, Bundesliga teams can’t compete in Europe. Bayern could win the Bundesliga 20 seasons in a row, but if the other teams are making deep runs in the Champions League or Europa League, nobody would badmouth the league.

“With all due respect for our community....but why the f*ck they didn’t play like this against f*cking Liverpool…Not saying they would have won, but the attitude and sense of urgency was not the same. I’m so f*cking pissed with our guys now..strange but completely honest.” - evsigler

This is a fair comment (KHR would agree...), but I think it’s a situation that we see regularly across the sport. Look how poor Bayern was midweek against Heidenheim in the DFB Pokal (yes, Bayern was down a man, but still) or against Freiburg last weekend. Sure, it sucks that this Bayern team wasn’t the one that showed up against Liverpool, but it’s hard to know if Liverpool wouldn’t have just stifled them as well.

“If we won the league this season, how long do you think Bayern would continue winning BuLi consecutively with the promised heavy investment this summer? This season might be BvB’s best chance to win the league.” - Ryan O’lantern

I’ve long thought that it would be a lengthy period of time before someone other than Bayern won the Bundesliga. Little did I know, Bayern would spend basically no money over last summer, and Dortmund would continue to improve. The Bundesliga and Serie A have both entered a period where, if Bayern and Juventus properly invest every summer, it’s hard to see them losing the league. When those two don’t invest, then other teams can challenge, if they’ve properly built a squad.

“Would any of ten Haag, Hütter or Van Bommel be an upgrade over Kovač?” - farawayfan2

I don’t think so. At least, they aren’t yet. Ten Haag and Van Bommel are doing great work over in the Netherlands, and they could continue to develop into great coaches. Hutter clearly has built upon what Kovac built at Eintracht Frankfurt and has them challenging for a Champions League spot. Would he be a good coach for Bayern? It’s really hard to know. There’s no reason to beat around the bush here: Kovac didn’t get the Bayern job because of his success at Frankfurt. He got the Bayern job, because he’s a former Bayern player and because of his success at Frankfurt.

“Will INNN ever publish his article on his first trip to the Allianz Arena?” - Anfi8


Thanks for reading today’s mailbag! Bayern don’t take the field again until next Sunday against Dusseldorf. See you then!

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