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Looking back on Hansi Flick’s first year at Bayern Munich

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At the one year anniversary of Hansi Flick’s appointment as head coach we look back on the past twelve months that he’s been in charge.

Hans-Dieter Flick Hands Over UEFA Champions League Trophy To FCB Museum Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Last week officially marked the one-year anniversary of the glorious relationship between Bayern Munich and Hansi Flick. What a year it has been. 49 games, 45 wins, 1 draw, 3 defeats, 163 goals scored, and five trophies won. Bayern has rewritten the history books multiple times under Flick’s leadership, and does not look to be slowing down any time soon. Let’s take a look at what happened in the past year.

November 2019: The Journey Begins

November 2, 2019. Bayern fans around the world were stunned into silence after seeing their team crumble meekly to Eintracht Frankfurt, conceding five goals in the process. In the next 48 hours, then-coach Niko Kovac handed in his resignation, and his assistant Hansi Flick took the reins. No one gave Flick that much thought, as he was supposed to be a stopgap until Bayern could find a new coach. Plus, expectations were low. Flick’s first game in charge was against none other than title rivals Borussia Dortmund. What could a new coach do to turn around a team that had been utterly destroyed in their game before?

Well, Hansi rose to the challenge and surpassed it by blowing Dortmund away 4-0, before doing the same to Fortuna Dusseldorf after the following international break. Flick got his team clean sheet wins against Olympiacos and Crvena Zvezda in the Champions League as well, winning the group with a game to spare. True, he was stopped in his tracks with a 1-2 loss to Leverkusen, but the signs were positive. Active pressing, a fast-flowing attack, and an increased desire to win. Bayern were playing like Bayern again.

December 2019: Super Subs

Hansi’s run took a stumble with another 1-2 loss, this time to Borussia Monchengladbach. Concerns were naturally raised, but Hansi Flick was no Hansi Flinch. He soon whipped his team back into shape with a 3-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League and a 6-1 win over Bremen in the Bundesliga.

Injuries, however, took their toll, and Flick saw his team reduced to bare bones, to the point that he could barely field a starting eleven, much less fill the bench as well. But Hansi remained unfazed. Instead of complaining, he dug into his youth pool and struck gold two games in a row, boldly taking off Philippe Coutinho for Joshua Zirkzee, the latter scoring twice with two touches in two games in their dying minutes. Flick did not drop a single point with a skeleton squad, and his decisions ensured that his team would stay firmly in the title race by Christmas.

January-March 2020: Losing? What’s that?

Rolling into the new decade, Hansi’s team scored nine goals in their first two games back, conceding none. True, his tactics were still being fine-tuned, as the team showed a bit of shakiness in their following games against Mainz and Hoffenheim. Plus, he dropped another two points in a hard-fought draw with Leipzig. It would be the last time Bayern ever dropped points that season.

Getting back to winning ways against Koln, Hansi drove his team to the top of the Bundesliga again, and took a huge step forward with a 3-0 win over Chelsea in the Champions League, in London, no less. Even the loss of Robert Lewandowski to a knee injury did little to stop Hansi, as he and his men adapted to the situation well and scored nine goals in three games without their star striker.

But there was one thing that did stop them: the COVID-19 pandemic. The entire football world was forced into quarantine, and Bayern fans waited with bated breath, wondering if the stellar form that their team was in would be gone for good.

May 2020: Back with a Bang

Thankfully, the Bundesliga resumed two months after its suspension, and Bayern returned to the field. The question was: would they be able to replicate the form they had before after such a long break?

The answer was a resounding yes. Flick got his team off to a decent start with a 2-0 win over Union Berlin, and avenged his side’s defeat in the Hinrunde against Eintracht Frankfurt by putting five goals past them at the Allianz Arena. The next test was their biggest: Dortmund away. A place that hadn’t been too kind to Bayern in the past year.

But Hansi set his team up well, made them press the hell out of Dortmund, and with pure will and determination, ended up victorious thanks to a brilliant lob from Joshua Kimmich. Whatever they did in training must have worked wonders, because even after such a draining game, Flick made short work out of Dusseldorf by defeating them 5-0 just a few days later. Hansi had somehow managed to bring out the best in his players even in such stressful times; in fact, the only black mark on his resume that month was when Thomas Muller kicked his backside in lieu of an orthodox handshake. Never change, Thomas.

June-July 2020: Defending the Double

Another month, another huge challenge. Hansi’s team would have to face Leverkusen and Gladbach simultaneously in the league, the only two teams that had defeated him until then. Add a tough clash with Frankfurt in the DFB-Pokal to that, and Hansi had a week that could make or break his season.

He started off well with a 4-2 win over Leverkusen. Keep that score in mind, it’ll come up again in a bit. But in that win, he lost both Lewandowski and Muller for the Gladbach match due to suspension. Plus, despite eventually beating Frankfurt to reach the Pokal final, his team was drained again. Gladbach loomed, and Hansi stood in front of them without his best goal scorer and assister, not to mention a physically exhausted squad. I remember musing to myself: “If Hansi Flick actually wins this game, he’s a tactical genius.”

Well, it turns out he was.

FC Bayern Muenchen Training Session
Hansi Flick has been phenomenal with Bayern Munich.
Photo by S. Mellar/FC Bayern via Getty Images

Yes, Bayern were a bit lucky in their 2-1 win over Gladbach, but you’d be ill-advised to think that Hansi did anything wrong in that game. He did his best with the limited tools that he had, and even though his best players weren’t there, the will to win still was. As a result, after Gladbach, Bayern were only one win away from the Meisterschale, which they clinched three days later with a 1-0 win in rainy Bremen.

A date with Leverkusen at the Olympiastadion Berlin was all that remained in the domestic season. Now, remember what I said about that 4-2 score line? Well, let’s bring that back. Hansi pressed all the right buttons again, attacking Leverkusen from minute 1 to 90, and won the Pokal by the exact same score line. Hansi made his team addicted to winning, and ended up lifting two trophies in two weeks.

August 2020: Mission Lis6on

After a short break, Hansi and his men were back in business. The Champions League. A single-elimination, do-or-die knockout tournament in Lisbon. There was little, if any, room for mistakes. Would the team be able to regroup after their domestic success? Could this be the year that Bayern finally brought the coveted trophy home? Would they be the first European champions of the new decade?

Well, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from watching Hansi Flick, it’s that he rarely shies away from a challenge. He first dispatched Chelsea’s last sliver of hope with an aggregate 7-1 win, and then went on to face the biggest team that he had met so far: Lionel Messi’s FC Barcelona.

To this day, I still don’t understand what exactly happened that night in Lisbon. I don’t know what Hansi told and taught his players before that memorable match. But what I do know is that whatever he did didn’t just work wonders, but basically destroyed the essence of an entire club. It’s not every day that a team puts eight goals past Barcelona, or anyone for that matter.

After a routine 3-0 win over Olympique Lyon in the semifinals, Hansi and his team was just one more win away from the trophy. Oil money-driven Paris Saint-Germain awaited in the final. A team that could punish Hansi’s bold tactics. Had Hansi finally met his match? Would he be forced to change his ways?

Hansi did not change his ways, nor did he meet his match. He kept his troops rallying all game. Most managers would become defensive if their team was up 1-0 in a European final. Not Hansi. His team remained as hungry as ever, never backing down until the final whistle went. We had done it. We had won the Champions League. Hansi Flick had become the first ever interim coach to win the continental treble.

Even the ever-calm Flick couldn’t be stopped during the celebrations. “GENIESEN DIE ABEND (enjoy the evening) !!!” he screamed before being mobbed by his players. Boy, I bet they really did enjoy that evening. Hansi’s just that good at getting his players to do as he tells them.

September-October 2020: New Season, Same Ol’ Hansi

When you win a treble, motivation is bound to suffer a bit. But not when you’re playing under Hansi Flick. Just take a look at the first Bundesliga game of the new season. He threw a water bottle in frustration even when his side were a couple of goals up, and said “we should have scored two, three, maybe four more goals in the first half,” after his side had beaten Schalke 8-0. Yes, by eight goals to nil.

FC Bayern Muenchen - Training Session
Hansi Flick’s impact at Bayern Munich is close to immeasurable.
Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images for FC Bayern

Tiger moms will stop at nothing to get their kids to win awards and trophies, and Hansi was no exception, with his team winning the UEFA Super Cup a few days from then on. Again, it was a Flick super sub who clinched the win, Javi Martinez scoring one of the most memorable goals of his career after coming on in extra time.

Although Bayern slumped to a 1-4 defeat to TSG Hoffenheim, Flick took responsibility and graciously accepted the defeat, even though it was pretty evident that a threadbare squad was at fault rather than any coaching miscalculations. As tired as the team was, though, Hansi’s motivational skills must have gotten the better of their fatigue as they won yet another trophy, this time the DFL Super Cup against Dortmund. It was Hansi’s fifth trophy of his Bayern coaching career.

Hansi would impress yet again in Europe, opening the new Champions League season with a 4-0 win over Atletico Madrid, a team with one of the tightest defenses in the world. Despite injuries and faulty COVID tests, Hansi’s Bayern picked up three straight wins in their first three Champions League games, not to mention wins in the Bundesliga as well. So impressive was that run that he won the UEFA’s Coach of the Year award, literally picking up every award he could get his hands on.

November 2020: It’s like Poetry, it Rhymes

After a 6-2 win over Red Bull Salzburg in the Champions League, Hansi reached his one-year anniversary with the club. Just a year ago, the relatively unknown 55-year-old had taken charge of one of the biggest clubs in the world, and had enjoyed success like no other.

Fate had decided that on the week of his anniversary, Hansi would face the first Bundesliga team he had to play at the start of his Bayern coaching career: Borussia Dortmund. How poetic is that?

And just like he did then, he won.

One Year with Hansi: Conclusions

I could go on and on about the success story that Hansi has had with Bayern so far, but I’ll sum it up with just one fact: he’s won more trophies with Bayern than he’s lost games. Five trophies won, three games lost. Even if you extend the category to “games he failed to win,” the statement still stands: five trophies won, four games without victory.

But the thing about Hansi’s Bayern isn’t that they win all the time, or that they play brilliant football. Ever since Hansi took charge, you get the feeling that the team is giving everything they have in every game. Do they play well all the time? No, but they won’t be going down without a fight. And that comes down to the coach.

A team will not play with such heart and desire if their coach does not instill it within them. Hansi has the backing of his players, his captain, his coaching staff, bosses, and his fans, for a good reason. He gives them reason to believe that if they trust in him, and if they play their hearts out for him, he will lead them to glory. It is nothing short of heartwarming to see the team fighting on the pitch every single game, and we as fans have been blessed with the privilege of watching them do so. As aforementioned, Hansi has got Bayern playing like Bayern again, and winning like Bayern as well.

What Hansi has done with this Bayern team is spectacular, no one can deny it. But knowing him, he will probably not rest on his laurels at all. For Hansi Flick, every game is a new game. As he put it right after his treble-winning final: “Success is only rented — and the rent is due every day.”