After a year in which we said goodbye to the much-loved dynamic duo of Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben, the transition into the new era at FC Bayern Munich is one of great importance for Niko Kovač, Uli Hoeneß, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, and everyone associated with the club.
Twenty-First Century Golden Era
The recent golden era at FC Bayern was one that achieved greatness; namely domestic domination and Champions League triumph against Borussia Dortmund. This era featured the pride of Bavaria in Philip Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger, two of Germany’s greatest players of the twenty-first century. FC Bayern were destined for greatness.
Winning a total of fourteen Bundesliga titles, ten DFB-Pokals, five DFL-Supercups, and three DFL-Ligapokals in the twenty-first century domestically, Die Roten were dominant. On the European stage, the Bavarians won the UEFA Champions League twice, beating Valencia on penalties in 2001 and overcoming Borussia Dortmund in 2013 thanks to the exploits of Arjen Robben.
With players like Oliver Kahn, Mehmet Scholl, Bixente Lizarazu, Giovane Élber, Philip Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribéry, and Arjen Robben, Bayern’s twenty-first century golden era proudly adorns the FC Bayern Erlebniswelt and Hall of Fame.
It will be extremely difficult to replicate the exploits of Ottmar Hitzfeld, Felix Magath, Louis van Gaal, Jupp Heynckes, and Pep Guardiola. Each coach wrote his name into the history books. Moving forward, Niko Kovać is aspiring to make history of his own.
Year of Transition
All eras in football must come to an end. As one chapter closes, a new generation is setting out to create stories of their own. The hunger to achieve continues in the current iteration of FC Bayern. A club built on hard work and a determination to succeed, Die Roten now must navigate a transition into a new era. That transition is one of utmost important to the club and the fans.
Receiving criticism throughout his first season in charge, Kovač nonetheless led FC Bayern to a domestic double. The Croatian head coach showcased why he’s the right man to take FC Bayern forward by securing the club’s twelfth domestic double in a difficult transitional period,
Despite that success, the 2018-19 season was not without serious challenges. The Bavarians had to work to achieve their domestic ambitions, after struggling and underperforming in the Bundesliga, and bowing out of the Champions League in a singing defeat to Liverpool.
A highly conservative approach to the transfer market, despite issues with the squad, led to a season of uncertainty and frustration. Kovač had the unwelcome task of making the most of what he had at his disposal and was unable to truly shape and define his first season in charge.
The old guard of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry played for the club one last time. Ending with the glory of silverware and goals, Robbéry concluded their substantial and impressive careers in Bavaria on a high note.
Rebuild in Progress
The board and Kovač now have the task of carrying out a rebuilding period at the club. Mats Hummels made a surprise return to Borussia Dortmund, Arjen Robben’s and Franck Ribéry’s contracts came to an end, Rafinha returned to Brazil, and the club decided against making James Rodríguez’ loan permanent.
World Cup-winners Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernández joined for a combined reported fee of €115m to shore up Bayern’s defence. Pavard and Hernández’s ability to play fullback and centre-back gives FC Bayern much-needed versatility and depth across defence. While Javi Martínez has the ability to cover at centre-back, the departures of Hummels and Rafinha reinforce the need for further defensive signings. Since the future of Jérôme Boateng is also uncertain, Bayern’s defence is of utmost importance in the transfer window.
Signed from Hamburger SV, the talented Jann-Fiete Arp joined FC Bayern for a reported fee of €3m. But Arp is a developmental signing at striker; the Bavarians’ attack remains an area that needs addressing. The club has been linked with a plethora of wingers, especially Leroy Sané, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Ousmane Dembélé; the intention is clearly there from FC Bayern. However, whether any of these transfers occur remains to be seen.
Despite the uncertainty, Bayern remain confident that they will be prepared when the transfer window closes in September. Kovač and Salihamidžić are methodically preparing for the new era, something that takes time and requires patience.
Moving forward, FC Bayern undoubtedly aspire to maintain and expand on the years of success. But it will be no easy task, especially with the increased competition in the Bundesliga from Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig. The Bavarians must get it right in order to continue the proud history and tradition of FC Bayern Munich on the basis which many fans have become acclimatised to.
This pressure and level of expectations on Die Roten are the product of years gone by, of hard work leading to success. It will be no different going into the 2019/20 season. As the trials and tribulations of an era come to an end, FC Bayern now have the opportunity to start a new chapter in the extensive and proud history that started 119 years ago.
Like the greatness before them, FC Bayern are ready to create their own history in the new era before them.